Probiotics For Skincare
It's no secret that probiotics benefit our overall health, but did you know they can also help maintain your skin's health? Many people are turning to probiotic-infused skincare products to get a glowing complexion and combat common skin problems.
In this article, we'll look at how probiotics work on the skin, why they're so effective, and how you can incorporate them into your routine.
Probiotics have become increasingly popular in recent years as more research has been conducted into their effects on human health. We've all heard about the gut benefits of adding good bacteria to our diets, but what many people don't realize is that these same microorganisms can improve the appearance and texture of the skin.
What Are Probiotics?
A common yeast found in probiotics is Saccharomyces boulardii; other organisms include Lactobacillus and
Taken orally, your gut microbiome is strengthened. This could include your skin because overall health = total body health. This can be achieved using oral supplementation but also through a diet rich in yogurt and other fermented foods. Probiotics work by restoring the balance of good vs bad bacteria in the gut, which helps regulate the immune system, reduce inflammation and fight off infection.
When it comes to skincare specifically, probiotics may help protect against environmental stressors like UV radiation and pollution while also reducing signs of premature aging such as wrinkles and fine lines. Additionally, they promote a healthy microbiome in the skin by encouraging beneficial microbes to flourish, which can suppress potential pathogens.
The Benefits Of Probiotics For Skin
Probiotic skincare contains live bacteria cultures which influence our body's natural microbiome - the collection of microbes living on the surface of our skin.
The benefits of probiotics on the skin include:
- promote good bacterial growth
- suppress pathogens, which may reduce acne
- regulate pH
- reduce inflammation
- improve wound healing
- protect and repair UV damage
Probiotic skin products may even increase hydration levels in the skin and reduce signs of aging like wrinkles and lines. Having a healthy microbiome keeps the pH of your acid mantle regulated. These protective effects all help to boost the health of your skin barrier and its functions.
If you suffer from a medical condition like eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis, check with your dermatologist before using any live bacterial products on your skin. There is increasing scientific evidence that oral and/or topical use can help with healing in diseases like acne and eczema, but this should only be done under the supervision of your physician.
Challenges with Probiotic Skincare Products
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are thought to provide health benefits when ingested or applied topically. Some probiotic skincare products contain live cultures of bacteria, while others contain extracts or derivatives of probiotics.
When a probiotic skincare product does contain live cultures, it should be indicated on the label or in the product description. Look for terms such as "live cultures," "active cultures," or "probiotic strains." It's important to note that probiotic products that contain live cultures require careful storage and handling to maintain the viability of the bacteria.
Also, there is potential for some marketing hype in this realm since a product could contain probiotic bacteria that get killed (and inactivated) by the preservation system. Preservatives are designed to kill bacteria but cannot discern good or bad.
Are there Microbiome Boosting Skincare Products without Live Bacteria?
It is possible to promote a healthy microbiome using skincare products that do not contain live cultures of bacteria. This is where prebiotics, postbiotics, and products of fermentation come into play.
Prebiotics are non-living substances that help to nourish and support the growth of beneficial bacteria on the skin. They are found in ingredients such as inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), and various plant extracts.
Postbiotics are byproducts of the metabolic processes of living probiotic bacteria, which have beneficial effects on the skin. They are often used in skincare products to help support the skin's natural microbiome.
Probiotic-derived extracts, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium extracts, are obtained from probiotic bacteria and are used in skincare products to help support the skin's microbiome and promote healthy skin.
How to Support Your Skin Microbiome
You can incorporate a microbiome health strategy into your skincare routine quite easily.
Incorporating Probiotics Into A Skincare Routine
Aside from taking oral supplements, one of the easiest ways to use probiotics for your skin is to make a homemade mask that contains yogurt. There are also online DIY recipes that include using fresh capsules you would normally ingest and turning them into a mask.
Otherwise, commercial products do exist, have the issues we've discussed above.
There are many different prebiotic skincare ingredients that can help support a healthy skin microbiome. Here are some examples:
- Inulin: A naturally occurring polysaccharide found in plants such as chicory root, sugarcane and artichokes.
- Fructo-oligosaccharides: Another type of naturally occurring polysaccharide found in plants such as bananas.
- Xylo-oligosaccharides: A prebiotic derived from the fibrous parts of plants, such as corn cobs and sugar cane.
- Galacto-oligosaccharides : A prebiotic that is found in human milk and can also be derived from lactose. This ingredient would not be considered vegan if that is something that matters to your shopping preferences.
- Alpha-glucan oligosaccharides: A prebiotic derived from yeast that helps to support the skin's natural microbiome.
- Other plant extracts derived from things like oats, barley, flaxseed, and asparagus.
Postbiotics for Skin
Postbiotics are metabolites or byproducts of probiotic bacteria that can have beneficial effects on the skin. Sometimes they influence the microbiome directly, but usually, these products of fermentation have a different role. As byproducts of the fermentation reaction, they require bacteria or yeast in order to be synthesized.
Here are some examples of postbiotic skincare ingredients:
- Lactic acid: A postbiotic that is produced by Lactobacillus bacteria. It is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that exfoliates and brightens the skin.
- Acetic acid: Another type of AHA that is a postbiotic produced by Acetobacter bacteria. It helps to exfoliate the skin and can also have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Niacinamide: A postbiotic form of vitamin B3 that can brighten the skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and support the natural moisture barrier.
- Hyaluronic acid: A postbiotic that is produced by some types of bacteria. It is a humectant that helps to draw moisture to the skin and keep it hydrated.
- Peptides: Short chains of amino acids that are produced by some types of bacteria. They can have a range of benefits for the skin.
- Lactococcus ferment lysate: Derived from the fermentation of a type of bacteria called Lactococcus lactis.
- Rice ferment filtrate: Derived from the fermentation of rice. It contains a variety of nutrients and amino acids, among other beneficial compounds.
- Lemon-peel bioferment: a product of fermentation shown to have skin brightening properties through effects on melanin via anti-tyrosinase pathways.
Ingredient Biosynthesis and Sustainability
Biosynthesis is the process of using living organisms to produce compounds or materials that can be used for various applications, including skincare.
Biosynthesis of skincare ingredients is a technological advancement that improves sustainability in the cosmetics industry because it uses renewable resources such as plants, algae, and microorganisms to produce ingredients. This reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing because the chemicals needed for lab synthesis are often non-renewable and potentially toxic.
An example is hyaluronic acid which was first discovered in the vitreous humor of bovine (cow) eyes in the 1930s. At that time, the only way to obtain hyaluronic acid was from animal tissues, such as the combs of roosters, the synovial fluid of cows and chickens, and the umbilical cords of cows. Today, hyaluronic acid is predominantly produced using bacterial fermentation technology, which involves using genetically engineered bacteria to produce hyaluronic acid. This method is more sustainable and cost-effective than animal-based methods, and it also produces a higher-quality product that is free of impurities and contaminants.
Are Probiotics Good For Acne?
The answer isn't all that clear cut; it depends largely on the person's skin type and condition. Some people may find success with using probiotic skincare, while others may not notice any improvement at all. Generally speaking, most experts agree that introducing healthy bacteria has many potential benefits, including the suppression of pathogens that cause acne.
A healthy skin microbiome will result in reduced inflammation caused by blemishes, as well as balance out sebum production which helps prevent future breakouts. Ultimately, trying an affordable product like a face mask or toner could be worth exploring if you're looking for an alternative treatment option for your acne.
When it comes to skincare, probiotics are just the tip of the iceberg for microbiome health. They can be a very important part of building a skincare routine if you have sensitive skin.
Probiotics are trickier to use for the skin (in commercial products) than prebiotic ingredients. You might want to consider natural sources like yogurt or supplements because of the nature of using live bacterial cultures on your skin.
Prebiotics are very useful for microbiome support and help to boost the health of the microbial flora, which will enhance skin barrier health and reduce inflammation. Additionally, using bio-fermentation to synthesize ingredients (called post-biotics) is useful from a sustainability standpoint, among the other benefits.
Roudsari MR, Karimi R, Sohrabvandi S, Mortazavian AM. Health effects of probiotics on the skin. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015;55(9):1219-40.
Habeebuddin M, Karnati RK, Shiroorkar PN, Nagaraja S, Asdaq SMB, Khalid Anwer M, Fattepur S. Topical Probiotics: More Than a Skin Deep. Pharmaceutics. 2022 Mar 3;14(3):557.
França K. Topical Probiotics in Dermatological Therapy and Skincare: A Concise Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2021 Feb;11(1):71-77.
Hendricks AJ, Mills BW, Shi VY. Skin bacterial transplant in atopic dermatitis: Knowns, unknowns and emerging trends. J Dermatol Sci. 2019 Aug;95(2):56-61.
Kukkonen K, Savilahti E, Haahtela T, Juntunen-Backman K, Korpela R, Poussa T, Tuure T, Kuitunen M. Probiotics and prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides in the prevention of allergic diseases: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Jan;119(1):192-8.
Soh SE, Aw M, Gerez I, Chong YS, Rauff M, Ng YP, Wong HB, Pai N, Lee BW, Shek LP. Probiotic supplementation in the first 6 months of life in at risk Asian infants--effects on eczema and atopic sensitization at the age of 1 year. Clin Exp Allergy. 2009 Apr;39(4):571-8.
Bustamante M, Oomah BD, Oliveira WP, Burgos-Díaz C, Rubilar M, Shene C. Probiotics and prebiotics potential for the care of skin, female urogenital tract, and respiratory tract. Folia Microbiol (Praha). 2020 Apr;65(2):245-264.
Al-Ghazzewi FH, Tester RF. Impact of prebiotics and probiotics on skin health. Benef Microbes. 2014 Jun 1;5(2):99-107.
Dr. Heather Smith developed her love for skinimalism and clean beauty years ago when she began making home remedies for her newborn's eczema. She is an expert in natural ingredients and active botanicals and has now launched bareLUXE Skincare - a full line of effective oil serums. She dedicates this blog to consumers who are researching ingredients and working to make their beauty ritual more natural and sustainable.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Smith nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content should consult their physicians about their skincare concerns and routines.