When it comes to health and wellness, probiotics pop up in all sorts of unexpected places. Perhaps most unexpected? As a skin care ingredient. While we may know that probiotics are beneficial for gut health, probiotics are good for the skin too. So, how do they help your skin anyway? Read on to learn everything you need to know about probiotic skin care, sources of best probiotics for the skin, and why you need it in your routine.
In short, probiotics are “good bacteria” that are crucial to balancing the “bad bacteria” in the body. As stated by WebMD: “Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system.” Probiotics are considered beneficial as they can help repopulate good bacteria that may be lost due to diet, medication or certain health conditions. The balance of good bacteria to bad can have an impact on the health of your skin.
Common sources of probiotics are fermented foods, with yogurt being one of the most well known, but also including sauerkraut, miso, kombucha and even pickles! Typically, when discussing the benefits of probiotics, we are referring to the gut flora which consists of hundreds of microorganisms that ensure your metabolic activities remain healthy and effective. However, probiotics can also be used to help heal skin conditions.
To put it simply, probiotics are microorganisms that help promote good health, especially in your digestive system. In addition to improving digestion, they promote healthy blood sugar and hormone levels, assist in regulating your metabolism and give your immunity a boost. Probiotics also pack a punch in skin care. The American Academy of Dermatology states, "[Probiotics] have been shown to help with clearer skin, decreased skin sensitivity, redness and inflammation ... You may also see a reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and increased elasticity.”
These friendly bacteria occur naturally in your digestive tract, but can also be found in a variety of foods, supplements and even in skin care products. If you’re thinking of taking advantage of the health and beauty benefits of probiotics, here are three sources:
1. Probiotic Supplements
Due to the rising popularity of probiotics as a health product, supplements are easy to find — and are a convenient way to get your "good bacteria." You can find these supplements in health food stores, drug stores and even grocery stores.
Interesting fact: A healthy intestinal tract hosts over 100 trillion friendly bacteria. In order to keep these microorganisms topped up, an effective supplemental dose of beneficial bacteria should include at least 5-30 billion viable bacteria a day.
2. Probiotics In Food
If supplements aren’t your thing, you may want to consider incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet. Foods like kombucha drinks, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso are all packed with healthy bacteria.
Interesting fact: Sauerkraut is not only extremely rich in healthy live cultures, but might also help with reducing allergy symptoms. In addition, this pickled cabbage is rich in Vitamins B, A, E and C.
3. Probiotics In Skin Care
While dietary probiotics have been found to help balance certain gut issues, scientific studies support that they can be beneficial for the skin as well. Specifically, probiotic-rich products are believed to balance the microbiome on the skin.
As International Educator Brian Goodwin explains: “The skin’s surface is home to a delicate balance of microorganisms, like bacteria and other microbes. This mix of living organisms is known as the microbiome," which defends the skin from environmental stressors and harm. But if good organisms are outnumbered by harmful bacteria, the microbiome falls out of balance. This can disrupt skin barrier function, leaving your skin vulnerable to dehydration or irritation.
Topical probiotics can help balance the bacteria associated with conditions such as acne and eczema. Acne has been shown to be one of the most promising conditions to treat with topical probiotics because bacterial imbalance and inflammation contribute to certain types of acne. Applying probiotics for acneic areas can help soothe any flare-ups as well as normalize the skin’s natural bacterial and moisture balance, helping it to “reset.”
While there are many DIY recipes for probiotic face masks, as always, we do not recommend creating your own kitchen concoctions. This is because applying products to your skin that are intended for food consumption often vary wildly in their levels of beneficial ingredients and concentrations. For example, many probiotic foods contain ingredients like lemon and vinegar. While acids can be skin-friendly, the types of acids in foods have the potential to irritate the skin and cause extreme photosensitivity and even serious chemical burns. Especially if you are dealing with a skin condition such as acne or eczema where the skin can already feel raw and sore, please avoid homemade solutions. Instead, look for professional probiotic skin care products that meet industry-wide safety requirements.
Probiotic skin care products are most effective when they can be massaged in or left on to absorb into the skin. This allows the probiotics to positively impact the moisture barrier and balance the skin. Depending on your skin type and concerns, you may not need probiotics for every step of your skin care routine and may prefer to incorporate it only into a few areas. For example, if you have a dry skin type and are dealing with some eczema or the odd blemish, using a probiotic face mask once a week is an excellent option. If you are an oily skin type trying to manage more frequent blemishes, incorporating probiotics in your daily cleansing and moisturizing — as well as a weekly face mask — helps to balance the bad bacteria that may be contributing to breakouts.
In terms of product recommendations, our Kombucha Microbiome Collection is formulated with pre, pro* and postbiotics to maintain your skin’s natural microbiome. This collection is also formulated with kombucha, white tea, ginger and jasmine which comforts the skin and helps you achieve a luminous, healthy-looking glow.
For more recommendations, we asked Eminence Organics Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar to share her thoughts on probiotic skin care.
Natalie shared with us some amazing home care recommendations on how to use probiotic skin care. Some of our favorite takeaways:
- Probiotics come from nature and help balance good and bad bacteria in the body.
- Probiotics can come from a supplement or fermented foods but can also be found in skin care products to balance the skin’s microbiome.
- In skin care, this good and bad bacteria balance impacts the moisture barrier of the skin.
- Because 60% of our skin is water, we want to ensure our skin stays healthy with balanced hydration levels.
Do you swear by incorporating probiotics into your diet? We would love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on social media.
*Does not contain live probiotic cultures.
This article was originally written in April 2019.