Effect of two cosmetic compounds on the growth, biofilm formation activity, and surface properties of acneic strains of Cutibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus

Microbiologyopen. 2019 Mar;8(3):e00659. doi: 10.1002/mbo3.659. Epub 2018 Jun 17.


Increasing popularity of preservative-free cosmetics necessitates in-depth research, specifically as bacteria can react to local factors by important metabolic changes. In this respect, investigating the effect of cosmetic preparations on pathogenic strains of commensal species such as acneic forms of Cutibacterium acnes (former Propionibacterium acnes) and bacteria behaving both as commensals and opportunistic pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus is of major interest. In this study, we studied the effect of commonly used cosmetics, Uriage thermal water (UTW) and a rhamnose-rich polysaccharide (PS291® ) on RT4 and RT5 acneic strains of C. acnes and a cutaneous strain of S. aureus. UTW affected the growth kinetic of acneic C. acnes essentially by increasing its generation time and reducing its biomass, whereas only the S. aureus final biomass was decreased. PS291 had more marginal effects. Both compounds showed a marked antibiofilm activity on C. acnes and S. aureus. For S. aureus that appeared essentially due to inhibition of initial adhesion. Cosmetics did not modify the metabolic activity of bacteria. Both C. acnes and S. aureus showed marked hydrophobic surface properties. UTW and PS291 had limited effect on C. acnes but increased the hydrophobic character of S. aureus. This work underlines the effect of cosmetics on cutaneous bacteria and the potential limitations of preservative-free products.

Keywords: Cutibacterium acnes; Staphylococcus aureus; biofilm; cosmetics; metabolism; surface adhesion; surface polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Adhesion / drug effects
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Cosmetics / metabolism*
  • Metabolism / drug effects
  • Propionibacterium acnes / drug effects*
  • Propionibacterium acnes / growth & development*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development*


  • Cosmetics