Be warned: this is full of nerdie bits!
Probiotics are nothing new to most people's daily routine, whether in supplement or yoghurt form. However, ingestible probiotics are usually used to aid digestion and promote healthy gut flora (AKA healthy bacteria).
So where do probiotics fit in to our skincare routines... Or do they? The term “microbiome” probably brings you back to sitting with your chin on your hand, bored out of your tree in Biology class. Well, now is the time to sit up and pay attention!
Your skin has its own microbiome, meaning that specific species of bacteria live on your skin. This isn’t as bananas as it sounds, because these little critters are battling for your glow - love them yet? Your skin’s microbiome is affected by sebum, hydration and pH (that scale I'm always lecturing about that dictates acidity or alkalinity).
If there is a problem with these, the good guys on your skin can become pathogens. According to Patricia K. Farris M.D in Dermatology Times, "studies indicate that alterations in skin microflora play a significant role in conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and skin cancer". So, to sum it up, bacteria assists your skin in staying healthy.
How probiotic skincare works
Probiotics allow beneficial microorganisms (AKA good bacteria) to colonise the skin, restoring its natural balance. They also help the skin’s resistance to damage caused by environmental stressors, such as irritants and allergens. But when we talk about topical probiotics, we aren’t talking about slapping on a bit of Activia before bed singing "MMMM.. Danone".
The bacteria found in probiotic yoghurt are too big to be absorbed into the skin, and nobody wants to smell like sour milk... Poor Cleopatra!
Probiotic bacteria produce acidic compounds like lactic acid through the fermentation process. When applied, it acidifies the skin by reducing it's pH, deterring pathogens.
The benefits of probiotic skincare
- Topical probiotics have a calming effect on the skin. The probiotics help prevent skin cells from reacting against bad bacteria which causes inflammation, meaning it could be part of the solution to your rosacea or acne.
- Probiotics can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Topical probiotics help to protect your skin against UV rays – admittedly, not enough to ditch the SPF, but it’s always good to have double defense against sun damage.
- They strengthen the skin’s immune system, which means it can fight back against pathogens.
- They speed up the the skin’s reparation processes.
There are plenty of brands out there using probiotics, some flaunting full ranges of products such as the Yoghurt of Bulgaria line from Biofresh.
From left to right: Biofresh Yoghurt of Bulgaria Sensitive Probiotic Protecting Face Serum SPF 20 (€24.95), Biofresh Probiotic Ultra Delicate Cleansing Milk (€18.00), Biofresh Yoghurt of Bulgaria Ultra Sensitive Probiotic Aqua Expert (€14.95)
Internal probiotics and your skinIn my opinion, taking probiotics internally is a key part to skin health. Many disagree but I have personally seen a vast different in Mini Skin Nerd's skin since he has started taking them. Probiotic supplements, and other forms of probiotics such as kefir, yoghurt and sauerkraut (for the vegans reading), are particularly helpful for those that have...
- Forehead congestion
Or just for those who crave healthy skin!
So, to quickly summarise:
- Your skin is covered in bacteria that helps it skin to carry out its natural processes
- Probiotics, used both internally and externally, can balance the bacteria on the skin
- Balancing the bacteria can help with a vast array of skin problems