If it feels like you’re seeing probiotics all over the shelves these days, it’s not an illusion. In 2012, the use of probiotics or prebiotics by adults in the United States was four times higher than in 2007.1
The human microbiome is essential for good health, and science continues to back this up. As a result, more and more people are adding probiotics to their daily health regimen. Because of this, probiotics are becoming more and more diverse as a health option. And it’s not just the probiotics you ingest, either – one of the main growing areas is probiotic skin care.2
How Do Probiotics Help Our Skin?
To understand what probiotics do for us, you first need to learn about the human microbiome – the trillions of living organisms that reside largely in your gut.3 But that’s not the only place beneficial bacteria is taking up residence… your skin is also playing host to millions of bacteria.
And in every microbiome, be it in your gut or on your skin, you have good and bad bacteria. Balance is key. As with any ecosystem, certain things introduced can throw things out of balance. When the bad bacteria begin to outnumber the good, your health may suffer.
This is especially important when talking about the skin microbiome. The skin is often subjected to harsh environmental conditions – sun, wind, grease and chemicals. This can lead to the growth, or overgrowth, of different bacteria. These can affect immune response and skin barrier functions.
Studies show alterations in the skin’s microflora can contribute to several notable skin conditions. These may include acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.4 When it comes to microbiomes, the good bacteria are essential for maintaining balance. When introduced to the skin, these bacteria may help lower instances of these conditions. They also help the skin perform its normal functions, like retaining moisture.5
How can you help keep your skin’s microbiome balanced? Topical probiotics may help.6
What Can We Use Them For?
Well, just like oral probiotics, the way probiotic creams, serums, or ointments benefit your skin can vary by product. Imbalances in bacteria stimulate responses like zits or breakouts, redness, and irritation. Changing your bacterial balances can help lower risk in these areas. Probiotics can also lead to better skin hydration. They may help with the skin’s barrier repair and collagen synthesis as well.7
You don’t have to wait until you have a big breakout or similar skin issue before you start using probiotic skin care. You can use it preemptively. But before you introduce any new product, talk to your dermatologist. They may be able to help you figure out what products will help you the most.
When it comes to figuring out the best products for you, the choices can be dizzying. Besides talking to a medical professional, you also want to do your own due diligence. Research the products. Learn about their ingredients. Probiotic skin care products may include other skin-friendly ingredients, like lactic acid. Lactic acid is one of the most common alpha hydroxy acids. AHA’s may help reduce acne breakouts, and help fight signs of skin aging.8
Polyphenols are another popular ingredient in skincare products. They help curb free radicals. This can help reduce the effects of skin aging. Probiotics may also have potential in this area. And combining the two? This could be an effective one-two punch to help fight the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and other markers of aging.9
Fad or Favorite?
There’s a difference between a trend and a major development. Skin probiotics are a hot topic right now. But the science behind their potential benefits is far from a flash in the pan. Gut probiotics can help your body’s internal functions. And skin probiotics? This topical approach may help you feel and look equally good on the outside, too!