The skincare industry is full of buzzwords, and the last few years, one word has been buzzing louder and louder: probiotics. Where did this ingredient come from, and why is it suddenly everywhere?
The health benefits of probiotics have been well known decades. Their first reported benefits date back to 1907 when scientist Elie Metchnikoff described a correlation between the ingestion of lactic acid-rich foods like yogurt and increased longevity. As always popularity correlates with need.
Inflammation and the Microbiome:
Probiotics “counter pathogenic bacteria, support barrier function, and contribute to the regulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses” by balancing good and bad bacteria in the micro-biome. In effect, they help your body’s resilience and regulates its response to stress, germs in the environment, and other lifestyle factors. Inflammation, another buzzword in beauty recently, is your body’s first line of response to pathogenic threats, whether viral or bacterial. However, in Western countries, diets rich in processed high sugar, high-fat foods as well as other lifestyle factors have resulted in chronic low-level inflammation with, despite the absence of a direct pathogenic threat. And this low-level inflammation has been linked to everything from bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and acne. So the rise of probiotics correlates directly with the increase of inflammatory-related diseases.
Probiotics assist the body in regulating its immune response – so you’re bodies not firing all its inflammatory cylinders at once. Ingestion of probiotics has been linked to an increase in moisture levels and a decrease in skin sensitivity. But do these results transfer topically? Increasingly it looks like they do.
Probiotics and Acne, Dermatitis and Eczema:
Clinically, the topical application of probiotics has also been shown to increase the antimicrobial properties of skin by boosting ceramide production. And this has benefits for eczema, dermatitis, and acne. A 7-day study found that the topical application of probiotic cream increased ceramide production resulting in an 89% reduction in acne over two months (Di Marzio et al., 1999, Di Marzio et al., 2003, Di Marzio et al., 2008). And the benefit of probiotic driven solutions to microbial and bacterial skin problems? Their results are that it doesn’t strip the skin the way solutions for dermatitis and eczema (cortisone and steroids) and acne (acids, retinol, and anti-biotics) can. Probiotics actually boost moisture and restore healthy fats to the skin, meaning healthier skin appearance and less long term damage.
Probiotics and Anti-Aging:
One of the little known factors in aging is skin PH. Youthful skin is generally more acidic than older skin. In young people, the pH of skin sits at around 4.2-5.6 but it rises as we age. As the pH of our skin increases, something called “mellaproteinaise” is triggered. Mellaproteinaise impacts the production of collagen and is one of the central mechanics of aging. Many believe that by returning the skins mantle to a more acidic, read youthful, state with topical probiotics the impact of mellaproteinaise can be inhibited or prevented. Probiotics also increase the production of hyaluronic acid in the skin, an essential component of skin health at any age.
So, what are you waiting for? Head over to our round-up of the best probiotic-rich skincare treatments.