Bacteria—while the mere thought of it may make your skin crawl, it just might be the hottest new ingredient in skin care
Feb 04, 2011
By Kim Erickson
Your skin— in fact, your entire body—is teeming with bacteria that are vital for good health. While there’s growing evidence to confirm that these friendly flora support healthy immunity and digestion, recent studies suggest that bacteria, in the form of probiotics, can also fortify your skin.
This should come as no surprise since probiotics have long been used to prevent eczema in infants. Research repeatedly shows that exposure to beneficial bugs both before birth and during the first two years of life stops eczema before it even starts. Although most of the studies linking probiotic supplements to eczema relief have been on children, some researchers speculate that topical probiotics may also reduce symptoms in adults by boosting the immune response.
From Acne to Antiaging: Bugs to the Rescue
Applying probiotics can also fortify your complexion’s defenses against chemicals and allergens that can disrupt the skin’s barrier function and cause swelling, dryness, breaks in the skin, and increased skin sensitivity. And because of probiotics’ ability to keep a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria on the skin, they are a natural in the battle against acne. Lab tests that pitted a variety of beneficial bacteria against Propionibacterium acne—the microbe responsible for that pimple on your chin—found that all of the probiotic strains stopped the harmful bacteria in its tracks.
But probiotics don’t just benefit the young or those with skin conditions like eczema. Emerging evidence suggests that these helpful critters might even keep premature aging at bay. Along with probiotics’ ability to strengthen the skin’s barrier function is their capacity also to help the skin hang on to moisture. The result? Soft, dewy skin. Preliminary studies also point to the possibility that some probiotic strains protect against the damaging rays of the sun.
These findings have piqued the interest of cosmetic companies, which are rushing to develop products packing skin-friendly probiotics. But you don’t need to wait to take advantage of beneficial bacteria—support your skin from the inside out with a daily probiotic supplement.
An effective way to fortify your army of beneficial bugs is with a multi-strain probiotic supplement. Check the label to make sure your probiotic is guaranteed to contain live and active cultures at the time of consumption—and make sure to store your supplement properly. Some probiotics require refrigeration; others are shelf-stable. Both can be quite effective.
The minimum probiotic dose typically recommended is 1 billion live organisms a day. While that might sound like a lot, it’s actually about the same amount you’d find in a cup of yogurt. But when it comes to probiotics, more is better. Most studies of probiotics’ impact on skin have used 5 billion colony-forming units (CFU).
Essential Formulas Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic Kampuku Soap Made with plant extracts, seaweed, and herbs, this natural probiotic soap protects and moisturizes.
Sedona Labs iFlora First Probiotics for Skin & Immune Health boosts T-cell (immune cell) balance and helps to increase skin moisture and suppleness.
Natren Healthy trinity and natasha’s probiotic face cream work together to get your skin glowing. The dairy-free probiotic capsules work on the inside, while the face cream nourishes topically.