We're all aware of the benefits of taking probiotics, whether in food or supplement form, for the optimum health of our guts but, in recent years, they've been given something of an identity overhaul.
Right now, a new breed of probiotics are taking centre stage.
Enter an arsenal of topical beauty products like cleansers, moisturisers and serums, packed with the friendly bacteria that promise to soothe inflammation, strengthen the skin's barrier and even diminish acne.
Sounds legit, right?
ELLE thinks so. Here's why probiotic skincare is the key to keeping your skin in good health...
What Exactly Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria (the good kind) and yeasts which hold key benefits for the overall health of our digestive system. Found in yoghurts and supplements, they have the ability to block pathogens and balance bacteria in the gut to fight off bloating, stomach cramps and other issues.
"The proper definition of probiotics is 'micro-organisms that can benefit its host'", says Marie Drago, founder of award-winning probiotic skincare brand, Gallinée, "but I just tend to call them good bacteria! In our products, we use the lactobacillus type, which usually has been deactivated."
But the best part is that there are so many other variations with the ability to benefit the skin.
"At Aurelia, we use a non-live probiotic from bifido bacteria in the form of a glycoprotein - a molecule which helps cell-to-cell communication," explains founder Claire Vero. "We then combine them with a milk peptide to protect and restore your skin from within."
How Do Probiotics Work And Why Are They So Good For The Skin?
Similar to how probiotics treat and prevent problems in the stomach, topical versions are known for their calming effects on the skin by harnessing a surge of good bacteria to help cells flourish.
Now for the science.
"The bacteria cell content interacts with receptors to modulate the immune response," explains Marie, "and this really helps soothe inflammation in the skin."
"The natural bacterial ecosystem of our skin has a very important protective role," Marie continues, "and with our over-clean modern lifestyle, this ecosystem is often damaged and can result in dry, stressed, sensitive skin. Bringing probiotics and prebiotics into the equation can help rebuild this healthy skin ecosystem, giving you back the glowing skin you're supposed to have."
What Is The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?
"Prebiotics are nutrients for the good bacteria (probiotics), and already live on your skin. They help support your own personal bacterial ecosystem, for the same, great results," says Marie.
"At Gallinee, we incorporate both into our products. Together, they help support your own personal bacterial ecosystem and they are both extremely safe ingredients."
Would I Benefit From Probiotic Skincare?
- You Have Sensitive Skin
Probiotics have the rather clever ability to rebuild and strengthen the skin's barrier. Sensitive skin may take a while to repair itself after damage but incorporating probiotics into your skincare regime helps speed up the process.
- You're A City Dweller
Free radicals such as pollution have the ability to accelerate ageing and to zap the skin of its youthful radiance, but when applied topically, probiotics can boost the skin's natural defence.
"Probiotics calm the natural immune triggers in your skin which can be overstimulated by pollution and stress and they reduce the damage these immune triggers cause to collagen, elastin and healthy cells," says Claire. Think of them as an apron against said environmental aggressors and whatever else we fling at our skin daily.
- You're Acne-Prone
Studies have found that products containing aforementioned lactobacillus (a type of bacteria usually found in yoghurt) was effective in treating acne - and this is something that Marie believes will totally change the way we tackle the common skin problem in the future.
"I predict that in the next few years, acne won't be treated with antibiotics but with probiotics," says Marie. "It makes so much more sense to feed the good guys and starve the bad ones (in this case, the acne bacteria), rather than to kill all types and hope for the best."
This story first appeared on ELLEUK.com.
For more Beauty, head here. Or check out Everything You Need To Know Before Adding Micellar Water To Your Skincare Routine and The Under $30 Skincare Products Dermatologists Swear By.