Everything you need to know about probiotics in skin care

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Including whether it’s worth the hype

At any given moment, there are thousands of tiny bugs (or bacteria) living within and on your skin. And while the thought of countless critters taking up residence on areas like your face might sound like a bad thing, good bacteria actually plays a vital role in fighting infections, minimising environmental damage, boosting your skin’s immunity, regulating pH levels and maintaining adequate hydration. Problems arise, however, when the health of your skin’s natural bacteria is compromised and the number of bad bugs exceed the good. Whether it’s an unhealthy lifestyle, bad eating habits or an illness that causes this disruption, an imbalance often results in breakouts, rosacea and redness, rashes, and eczema.

To prevent bad bacteria from taking over and to ensure a healthy balance of good bacteria is restored, a slew of skin care formulas containing prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics have been developed. To find out more about the upcoming skin care trend, including whether it’s worth the hype, we spoke to two skin care experts: founder of Paula’s Choice Skin Care, Paula Begoun, and founder of AMPERNA® Skin Care, Kiri Yanchenko.

How prebiotics impact skin

Begoun explains that prebiotics are an asset to your skin because “they help to create a healthy environment and stabilise both your skin and its microbiome”. Put simply, prebiotics function in a similar way to fertiliser by encouraging good bacteria to grow. Prebiotics also work to increase the diversity of the good bacteria on your skin, which ultimately enhances its ability to ward off inflammation because there are multiple good bacterial strains working to protect it. Yanchenko also notes that “potent sources of prebiotics can enhance your skin’s microbiome”, allowing it to function more effectively.

If you’re looking to include prebiotic skin care into your routine, we recommend trying La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oatmeal Mask and Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP

, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oatmeal Mask

Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray

How probiotics impact skin

According to Yanchenko, probiotics work to replenish diminished levels of good bacteria and “restore the natural balance of the skin’s microbiota”. She adds that in skin care, probiotics derivative, lysates, break down on the skin’s surface and provide hydrating and anti-ageing benefits. Before you stock your beauty cupboard with skin care formulated with probiotics, Begoun stresses that probiotic skin care has rather significant limitations. “Because everyone’s microbiome is different and it’s constantly changing, there’s no way anyone can know the exact probiotics that your skin needs,” she explains.

Yanchenko agrees, noting that because everyone’s skin is unique, “one probiotic strain that works for one person might not work for another”. Although the notion that probiotics help your microbiome doesn’t hold up under the science, “some probiotics are effective anti-inflammatories and will benefit the skin,” explains Begoun. 

If you want to benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects of probiotic skin care, try AMPERNA® Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum, Andalou Probiotic + C Renewal Cream and The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner.

AMPERNA® Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum

Andalou Probiotic + C Renewal Cream

The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner

How postbiotics impact skin

Yanchenko explains postbiotics are the beneficial extracts that probiotics create when metabolised. When applied to the skin, some postbiotics function like natural antibiotics, capable of killing germs that contribute to the production of acne and other infections; while others are able to incite skin healing without the need for an instigating injury like those caused during microneedling

Because it’s a relatively new area of research, most postbiotic products are still in the production phase. When new and quality formulas finally launch, we’ll be sure to update you with product recommendations. 

On the hunt for more skin care tips and tricks? Then discover three skin-loving ingredients worth getting excited about and find out our top picks for the moisturisers your skin will love.

Would you try pre, pro and postbiotic skin care? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.     

Main image credit: @natashapoly

Kate has worked for BEAUTYcrew since early 2016, first as a contributor, before being named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine.