Probiotics In Skincare: What Are They and How Do They Work?
It's all about the good bacteria. 11/17/21
Probiotics have long been lining the health-food shelves, touting all manner of gut-balancing properties. But now, a new breed of bacteria strains, designed to work from the outside in, is taking center stage.
Just like the capsules you swallow to keep your gut happy, probiotics can have biome-balancing properties when applied topically to the skin. Cue an arsenal of beauty products – from cleansers and serums to masks and mists – packed with types of friendly bacteria that promise to soothe inflammation, strengthen the skin's barrier and even diminish acne.
Sounds intriguing, right? But is it really worth incorporating probiotics into your ever-expanding skin regime? Actually, there’s a lot of recent research that suggests there is. Here’s everything you need to know…
What Exactly Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria (the good kind) and yeasts that hold key benefits for the overall health of our digestive system. Found in yoghurts and supplements, they have the ability to block pathogens and balance bacteria in the gut to fight off bloating, stomach cramps and other issues.
'The proper definition of probiotics is 'micro-organisms that can benefit their host', says Marie Drago, founder of probiotic skincare brand, Gallinée, 'but I just tend to call them good bacteria!'
How Do Probiotics Work In Skincare?
Similar to how probiotics treat and prevent problems in the stomach, topical versions are known for their calming effects on the skin by harnessing a surge of good bacteria to help cells flourish. When your skin barrier is happy, it can regulate oil production, stay hydrated, and fend off free radicals.
Probiotics used externally are all about regulating natural balance and helping to moderate the cells’ signalling molecules in order to increase cell communication and balance the body’s immune response,' explains Claire Vero, founder of Aurelia Probiotic Skincare.
As Drago adds, the natural bacterial environment of our skin has a very important protective role, so it’s vital that we keep it intact. ‘With our over-clean modern lifestyles however, this ecosystem is often damaged and can result in dry, stressed, sensitive skin.'
The solution? Supporting your microbiome with a topical dose of probiotics, helping your personal ecosystem to stay balanced, which in turn results in glowing, happy skin.
The probiotic benefits for each skin type
Probiotic skincare for sensitive skin
Probiotics have the rather clever ability to rebuild and strengthen the skin's barrier. Sensitive skin may take a while to repair itself after damage, but incorporating probiotics into your skincare regime helps speed up the process.
'Our probiotics help to regulate the skin’s natural immune (or inflammatory) response, meaning that equilibrium is maintained and skin becomes less reactive,' says Vero. Essentially, they help to build skin resilience and natural immunity.
So, if stronger, more balanced skin is your aim, it may well be worth investing in a probiotic-powered skincare routine.
Probiotic skincare for polluted skin
Free radicals such as pollution have the ability to accelerate ageing and to zap the skin of healthy radiance, but when applied topically, probiotics can boost the skin's natural defense against these aggressors.
'By activating the skin's natural defense system and restoring equilibrium, probiotics ensure your skin is ready to fight the elements on a daily basis,' says Vero.
Simply speaking, a dose of topical probiotics can calm the immune response that pollution and stress stimulate, preventing damage to collagen, elastin and healthy cells. Think of them as a shield against said environmental aggressors and whatever else we fling at our skin daily.
Probiotic skincare for acne
Studies have found that products containing aforementioned lactobacillus (a type of bacteria usually found in yoghurt) are effective in treating acne – and this is something that Marie believes will totally change the way we tackle the common skin problem in the future.
'I predict that in the next few years, acne won't be treated with antibiotics but with probiotics,' says Marie. 'It makes so much more sense to feed the good guys and starve the bad ones (in this case, the acne bacteria).'Vero agrees that probiotic skincare is a promising way to treat acne-prone skin. 'By calming and balancing the inflammatory response within the skin, probiotics can also help to soothe acne-prone skin from within.' She believes the key to dealing with acneic skin is to treat it gently with kind formulations that don’t strip away all the skin’s natural oils.