From kombucha to kimchi to supplements for your smoothies, probiotic-rich foods are firmly back on the menu. And with good reason – as research reveals the importance of gut health for our overall wellbeing (we all have that friend who won’t stop evangelising about her microbiome at brunch), it’s become clear that probiotics are essential for a good diet.
But the fun doesn’t stop with what’s on your plate – a growing category of skincare products now contain probiotics to feed the body’s largest organ, fast. More sophisticated than smothering your skin in yoghurt (please don’t go there), probiotic-enriched skincare is multiplying faster than the live bacteria it contains (yep – more on that below).
“Good bacteria in the gut can help eliminate toxins and reduce inflammation, but we’re now discovering that probiotics can help eliminate free radical damage to the skin,” says Elizabeth Arden head of education, Philippa Curnow. Here’s what you need to know.
How does it work?
“When our tummy isn’t happy, the skin is the first area of our body to show signs of poor health,” says nutritionist Lola Berry. “This is a sign that the digestive system and organs that eliminate toxins are not functioning at their optimum.” Enter: probiotics, which help to rebalance gut microflora.
Just like the gut, the skin has its own population of bacterial flora. “The probiotics in skincare act in the same way as in the gut, to help balance the good and bad bugs,” explains Andalou Naturals marketing director Tina Randello. “When this imbalance is out, skin can suffer from breakouts and congestion.” Which brings us to…
Suffice to say, they’re wide-ranging. From keeping breakouts at bay (probiotics “diminish blemish-causing bacteria” on the skin, says Philippa) to strengthening the skin’s barrier, probiotics help to prevent and treat multiple skin issues.
“The cultures change the environment of the skin's surface, which discourages the growth of bad bacteria that causes redness, irritation and breakouts,” says Tina. “By changing the surface environment of the skin, probiotics encourage a prolonged refreshed and balanced skin.”
Philippa agrees: “As probiotics have an anti-inflammatory effect, probiotic skincare helps to soothe redness, skin irritation and conditions such as acne, rosacea and Psoriasis,” says Philippa.
Beyond skincare, add probiotics to your diet by increasing your intake of fermented foods – think yoghurt, the aforementioned kombucha and kimchi and sauerkraut. “Even olives are fermented!” says Lola. Eat up.