From kombucha, to kimchi, we all know the health benefits of taking or eating probiotics. With a host of scientific data to back up the claims, we know that this trend is more than a fad. However, recently probiotics have been added to more than out food- they’re now a growing part of our skincare regimine. We ask the questions, “can they really benefit our skin”?
Chances are you’ve heard about probiotics, it seems like there’s a different variation on every Chemist shelf. If you’re still unsure about why most doctors are raving about and prescribing probiotics, here’s a quick lesson. On average, your microbiome is a host to millions of tiny bacteria that aid in the digestion of food, absorbing and synthesising nutrients. Healthy and thriving “good” bacteria allow this process to run smoothly, while “bad” bacteria can hinder proper digestion and act as a catalyst for other health issues. Probiotics, which are normally comprised of multiple “good” bacteria types and yeast, are often prescribed to those striving to balance their microbiome flora.
We know it’s normal to consume them, but what about the additions of probiotics to skincare? Well, they essentially work the same way on our skin as they do in our gut.
Dr. Dendy Engleman, Elizabeth Arden’s Consulting Dermatologist, clarified the idea of probiotics in skincare vs probiotics that we take for our gut, and surprisingly there weren’t many differences. According to Dr. Engleman, in order for our skin to function properly, there must be proper pH balance and microflora levels in place. “Billions of natural microflora, comprised of both healthy and unhealthy bacteria, reside on the surface layer of the skin and if they become imbalanced it can result in chronic skin problems”, she explains.
Dr. Luis, Medical Director for Mesoestetic, agrees and states that our skin needs healthy microflora levels. Like many of our other body tissues, our skin is covered with bacteria and germs- even if we’re not aware of it. Additionally, “the skin acts not only as a physical barrier, but also as an immunological barrier. Which is why the modification of intestinal microflora using probiotics in our skincare is likely to have positive effects on the skin”, Dr Luis explained.
Our question was, “How do we know if the bacteria on our skin is balanced? And if it’s not, what types of issues might we see?”
According to Dr. Luis, if the microflora levels on our skin are out of balance, skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis might present. And if we don’t fix it? We were warned that, “other microorganisms could present opportunities that in turn allow viruses, fungal infections or even more bacteria that make up our microbiota to grow”. In this sense, the addition of probiotics into our skincare could do us some good, and result in a host of benefits- the ability to reduce inflammation and sebum content, that in turn helps to reduce acne.
Besides fighting and preventing acne, “the application of topical probiotics has been shown to increase the production of ceramides when applied for more than seven days, which can enhance the skin barrier function too”, which is a promising statement for those of us looking to turn the clock back a few years.
Before you go out on a mission to overhaul your microbiome, consider slowly incorporating probiotic products one at a time. Despite all of the scientific evidence, the addition of probiotics in skincare might not be for everyone. In fact, Dr. Luis recommends it mainly to those with conditions such as topical dermatitis, acne, psoriasis, redness or scars from injuries. Don’t give up hope just yet, with more research to come Dr. Luis reassures us that the future is looking bright. “The skin’s microbiota opens up great expectations for future research and may establish the bases of both preventive and curative probiotic, prebiotic and symbiotic treatments in dermatological illnesses”.
Want to add some probiotic power to your beauty cupboard? Start with a cleanser, like this one from Elizabeth Arden, that harnesses the power of probiotics to clean your skin and support its natural defences. Made with a mineral rich clay it removes dirt and impurities without stripping your natural hydration levels. Follow with a toner that has a lactic acid base, to act as an exfoliator and hydrator in one. The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner can be used straight after the shower, before your serums and is gentle enough to use every day. To finish off, a probiotic sleeping mask, like Aspect Probiotic Sleeping Mask, improves cell turnover for people with dry/dehydrated skin. Plus, the inclusion of antioxidants and ingredients such as aloe vera will help soothe and condition the skin.
Story by: Yadira Galarza Cauchi