One of the biggest shifts in the beauty and skincare industries in the past 20 years has been the meteoric rise of ‘natural beauty’. Initially, growing awareness of potential safety concerns associated with some synthetic ingredients, combined with a growing interest in ways to lead a more natural and eco-friendly lifestyle, spurred the demand for products containing natural ingredients. More recently, emphasis has shifted to ‘clean beauty’, focused more on ingredients that are proven safe and have minimal environmental impacts, regardless of whether they are all-natural or synthetic. Clean beauty is currently one of the fastest-growing beauty trends today, as evidenced by the fact that social media mentions of #cleanbeauty grew by 623% in the US between 2016 and 2019. Despite the massive popularity of clean and natural skincare, there is no agreed-upon definition within the industry for what terms like ‘clean’ actually mean. Further, the ‘natural’ and ‘clean’ beauty labels are completely unregulated by agencies like the FDA, leading to consumer confusion and misleading claims.
At Ellis Day Skin Science, our motto is Let’s Be Clear™: we will always be honest and transparent with our customers about our products and our ingredients. That’s why we have tried to clear up some of the confusion around clean beauty by talking about what being ‘clean’ means to us. And while we always try to use only the cleanest and safest ingredients, we have taken it one step further, by incorporating powerful first-of-their-kind active ingredients that are poised to revolutionize the world of clean and natural skincare: skin-native bacteriophages (phages for short).
Phages are tiny microbes (not visible to the naked eye) that infect and kill bacteria. That’s right, the microscopic bacteria that make us sick also have their own, even tinier, ‘predators’. These phages function as nature’s antibacterials. However, unlike other antibacterial agents you may be familiar with (like antibiotics), which kill lots of different bacteria, phages are very specific, meaning one type of phage only kills one specific type of bacteria. Phages can be found in almost every environment on earth, from deep sea vents to clouds -- wherever their target bacteria live. This means that phages are also found on and in the human body, especially in bacteria-rich regions such as the gut and skin.
The inherent specificity of phages makes them ideal candidates to eliminate unwanted bacteria, without disrupting natural microbial ecosystems - and the ‘wanted’ bacteria that are a part of these ecosystems. Phages have been used in medical applications to eradicate the bacteria causing life-threatening infections for over 100 years! But developing effective phage products for therapeutic purposes can be incredibly challenging. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the fact that phages are very sensitive to factors like heat, UV light, and preservatives. Also, the specificity of phages means that it is essential to find the exact right phage (or phages) for the job, or they won’t eradicate the specific bacteria you’re trying to get rid of. Never one to back down from a challenge, the team at Ellis Day has spent years to research and develop the enabling technology to bring the power of phages to consumer skincare products.
Our products, including our Balancing Phage Serum, Hydrating Phage Serum, and our Chill Face Spray, contain a proprietary blend of phages that target and kill a bacterium known as Cutibacterium acnes (aka C. acnes). C. acnes bacteria are a normal part of our skin microbiome. However, not all C. acnes are desirable: certain types (strains) of C. acnes can damage skin tissue, leading to blemishes, breakouts, and inflammation. Ellis Day has identified what we refer to as “smart phages” - the specific ones that eliminate only the harmful C. acnes strains, while leaving other members of our healthy skin microbiome intact. We are also the only ones to use a blend of several phages, which prevents the target bacteria from becoming resistant to phage killing. Also, we have spent years developing phage-stable topical formulations that protect the bacteria-fighting power of our phages and are also clean, gentle, and non-irritating to skin.
Ellis Day has generated clinical data from a 12-week study in young adult women and men, showing that when applied daily, our combination of C. acnes phages promotes a significant reduction in both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions. These results are superior to leading prescription and over-the-counter acne treatments in a similarly-designed clinical study. Our phages have the additional benefit of having no adverse effects, such as redness, dryness, or irritation.
In addition, based on DNA sequencing of skin swab samples from the clinical study participants, we observed a decrease in acne-associated C. acnes bacteria and an increase in healthy C. acnes strains and other healthy skin bacteria. So, our phages not only are clinically proven to be as effective as leading anti-acne treatments, without any of the unwanted side effects that these can cause. They also restore balance to your skin microbiome by eradicating bad bacteria and enabling good bacteria to flourish.
In addition to our superstar phages, Ellis Day phage-based products also contain an array of powerful, but gentle skin-native ingredients (sometimes called skin-identical ingredients), because we believe that the safest and most effective skincare ingredients are ones that are already found in your skin. One of our favorites is hyaluronic acid (HA), an essential molecule in our skin, eyes, and connective tissue that helps to form the support matrix holding our cells together. Incorporated in our Hydrating Phage Serum, HA is a powerful humectant—meaning it attracts water, so it is critical for maintaining hydration and supporting a healthy skin barrier. Clinical studies show that topical application of large and small HA molecules (known as high- and low-molecular weight HA, respectively) can help plump skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and minimize redness and irritation, leading to younger-looking skin.
Importantly, because we focus on skin-native ingredients, and never include fillers, artificial fragrances, or harsh preservatives, all our products are pregnancy-safe, gentle, and non-irritating. We are also proud to be a cruelty-free and vegan skincare company.
The world of clean and natural skincare has evolved considerably over the past two decades. From the early days of ‘natural’ products that were little more than a few plant-based ingredients in a brown glass bottle, to our current emphasis on safe and sustainable skincare, skincare products have evolved as our understanding of skin health has improved. We believe that skin-native ingredients, and phages in particular, represent the next step in this journey: natural 2.0, if you will. At Ellis Day, we are excited to be on this journey with you 💙
If you have any questions about Ellis Day Skin Science, or how our phage-based, skin-native products can promote skin health, please email us at email@example.com. We’re happy to help!
- Barnard E, Shi B, Kang D, Craft N, Li H. The balance of metagenomic elements shapes the skin microbiome in acne and health. Sci Rep. 2016;6:39491.
- Fitz-Gibbon S, Tomida S, Chiu BH, et al. Propionibacterium acnes strain populations in the human skin microbiome associated with acne. J Invest Dermatol. 2013;133(9):2152-2160.
- Marinelli LJ, Fitz-Gibbon S, Hayes C, et al. Propionibacterium acnes bacteriophages display limited genetic diversity and broad killing activity against bacterial skin isolates. mBio. 2012;3(5):e00279-12.
Dr. Laura Marinelli is a skincare-obsessed scientist who has spent her entire academic career researching phages and the microbes that live on our skin and make up our skin microbiome. She earned her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh, completed her postdoctoral training at UCLA, and is now living her longtime dream of creating phage-based skincare products to improve skin health with Ellis Day Skin Science. Laura has been a part of the Ellis Day team since 2017 and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband, three kids, and two cats.
About Ellis Day Skin Science
We believe that modern skincare must be grounded in true microbiome science and that the most potent, safe, and effective active ingredients are those that are native to healthy skin.
At Ellis Day Skin Science, we formulate pioneering skincare products using skin-native active ingredients, for the cleanest, safest and most natural approach to healthy skin. These include bacteriophages that eliminate bacteria associated with inflammation, damage, and aging, and enable good bacteria to flourish.
We use cutting-edge science to leverage these powerful active ingredients, creating products that are just as kind and conscientious as they are effective, so that everyone can feel empowered with balanced, clear, radiant, and resilient skin.