Gentle bath products clinically shown not to disrupt the infant skin microbiome over the first month of life

Longitudinal development of the skin microbiome during the neonatal period

Infants are exposed to microbes for the first time at birth. These colonies of microbes form the infant skin microbiome, which can protect against infections and other threats to the skin barrier. The populations of vaginal and environmentally acquired microbes present at birth become more body-site-specific over the first few months of life1. This evolution suggests an opportunity to gently nurture the infant skin microbiome and maximize future health2. In this study. the infant skin microbiome was observed to better understand its evolution and the effects of a baby skin-care regimen on this development3.


The study included 44 newborns. Of these participants, 29 completed the baby skin-care regimen, while 15 newborns completed the control regimen. Mothers in the baby skin-care regimen group used JOHNSON'S® HEAD-TO-TOE® wash, shampoo, and lotion on their newborns. These products are specially formulated for babies. Mothers in the control group continued to use their regular skin-care products on their babies. The study included several assessments:

  • Physician assessment of tolerance
    • Records Neonatal Skin Condition Score (NSCS) and presence of conditions such as rash, flaking, and roughness
  • Caregiver assessment of tolerance
    • Records any burning/stinging and itching
    • Product assessment questionnaire
  • Measures of skin pH and skin microbiome

These assessments were made across 3 time points:

  • Study baseline (newborns aged 3-7 days)
  • 1-week treatment (newborns aged 11-18 days)
  • 3-week treatment (newborns aged 26-33 days)

impact of baby products on infant skin chart


This study demonstrated that the skin microbiota evolves to an infant skin microbial profile within the first week of life.3

  • There was a significant increase in microbial diversity over time in both groups
  • Diversity was significantly increased in the group that used a baby product routine compared to the control group
  • There was no significant change in the NSCS vs baseline scores in either group


This study demonstrated that the skin microbiota in infants evolves to an infant skin microbial profile within the first week of life. Use of a gentle baby product routine with JOHNSON'S® HEAD-TO-TOE® did not disrupt this development. In fact, over the first month of life, this routine was associated with an increase in microbial diversity. Previous research has linked microbial diversity to a healthy skin microbiome. Establishing healthy habits with gentle products that are designed to support a baby's skin barrier and encourage touch and skin-to-skin contact may help foster a biologically rich and diverse environment for a healthy infant skin microbiome.3,4-6


1. Capone KA, Dowd SE, Stamatas GN, et al. Diversity of the human skin microbiome early in life. J Invest Dermatol. 2011;131(10)2026-2032.
2. Egert M, Simmering R, Riedel CU. The association of skin microbiota with health, immunity and disease. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2017;102:62-69.
3. Data on File 1, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (Examination of changes baby's first bath & Longitudinal development of the skin microbiome).
4. Fyhrquist N, Ruokolainen L, Suomalainen A, et al. Acinetobacter species in the skin microbiota protect against allergic sensitization and inflammation. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;134(6):1301-1309.
5. Data on File 2, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (Capone KA, Tierney N, Smith H, Tian S, Horowitz P. Longitudinal development of the skin microbiome during the neonatal period. AAD’17)
6. Scharschmidt TC, Vasquez KS, Pauli ML. Commensal microbes and hair follicle morphogenesis coordinately drive Treg migration into neonatal skin. Cell Host Microbe. 2017;21(4):467-477.

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