Could microbiome skincare help your skin look and feel its best?
Microbiome skincare is a hot topic and a fast-growing beauty category. We’ve looked at the science behind it, and whether microbiome skin care is Hype or Hero!
What is your skins microbiome?
In short, your skins microbiome is the diverse community of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, that live on the surface of your skin.
Far from being the bad guys, these beneficial bacteria (and other microbes) can help your skin look and feel its best. Your skins microbiome also helps protect against harmful microbes, toxins and other environmental stressors.
After the gut, your skin microbiome is the second largest human microbiome.
Mostly it consists of specific bacterial and fungal species belonging to groups called Firmicutes (Staphylococcus), Actinobacteria (Propionibacterium, Cutibacterium) and Fungi (Malassezia sp.).
The names are a bit convoluted, I find, but it is helpful to take note as they help if you want to choose a probiotic supplement, containing bacteria that are beneficial to your skin health.
In addition, scientists have found that changes in our gut microbiome could trigger an immunological response. This could lead to acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata, hidradenitis suppurativa, allergies and other skin conditions.
How can you improve your skins microbiome?
The goal is to have a varied and balanced microbiome. When our microbiome is unbalanced – that is, there are harmful changes in the type or number of microbes – it’s called dysbiosis.
Dysbiosis can cause otherwise harmless microbes to ‘turn nasty’, as is the case with Cutibacterium.
People with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis have increased Staphylococcus aureus.
Diet and probiotics have an enormous impact on the composition and function of our gut microbiome, which in turn impacts the skin.
What happens in your gut affects your skin and vice versa, which is why taking probiotics, by mouth, has been shown to decrease inflammation and benefit the skin.
For gut microbiome friendly foods, download this FREE guide to EASY microbiome recipes:
Microbiome skincare: should I take probiotics for good skin?
Firstly, what are probiotics? Probiotics are live microorganisms that affect your skin and gut microbiome (the 100 trillion microbes that live in your gut).
Probiotics may help improve the skin’s barrier function, reduce symptoms of skin conditions, and maintain a beneficial balance of microbes on your skin.
When taken as a supplement or eaten with probiotic-rich foods, like kefir or live yogurt, probiotics can help improve your gut and skins microbiome.
When your gut is happy and healthy, your skin microbiome will follow suit. Scientists refer to this as the gut-skin axis, and its a powerful ally if you want your skin to look and feel its best.
What about prebiotics, postbiotics and synbiotics?
Beyond probiotics, there are also prebiotics, postbiotics and synbiotics … Confused yet?! The good news is, these natural microbiome skincare options may also be beneficial for your skin health and complexion.
Prebiotics are fibers that us humans cannot digest, and they act as food for our microbiome, stimulating the growth of healthy, probiotic bacteria, So, instead of adding new bacteria into the system, prebiotics will help the existing beneficial bacteria in the gut flourish.
Synbiotics are a combination of prebiotics and probiotics that work together to improve gut health.
Postbiotics have been defined as “a preparation of inanimate (non-living) microorganisms and / or their components that give a health benefit on the host”, i.e. us humans!
How can probiotics benefit your skin?
Probiotics have emerged as a popular and often effective way of caring for your skin. This type of microbiome skincare has the potential to:
Strengthen skin barrier: Probiotics may help improve the skin’s barrier function and maintain a beneficial balance of microbes on the skin.
Reduce inflammation: Probiotics can influence the function of the immune system, thus reducing the inflammatory response associated with the invasion of germs on the skin. This is especially helpful in managing skin conditions such as acne and rosacea.
Soothe skin disorders: In addition, microbiome skin care, including specific probiotics for skin, show great potential in prevention and treatment of a number of skin disorders. Microbiome skincare is being tested for acne, rosacea, eczema, atopic dermatitis, allergic skin inflammation, skin hypersensitivity, UV-induced skin damage, and wound healing.
How does microbiome skincare actually work?
Microbiome skin care, such as face creams and serums, contain prebiotics, probiotics or postbiotics. They work by introducing microbes to the skin, or support the growth of beneficial bacteria and microbes already on the skin. This can help improve the health of the skin and maintain a beneficial balance of microbes (and outnumber any bad guys!).
Which probiotic skin care products might actually do the job?
The number of probiotic skin care products on the market is rapidly rising, so it can be hard to choose.
Here are three of the top brands that offer strong probiotic skin care credentials:
Aurelia London products are built on the PROTIDA™ triple probiotic complex and non-live probiotic extracts.
Containing bifida ferment lysate, their dermatologist-tested face serum calms and balances the skin with probiotics while protecting it from environmental immune triggers like pollution and stress.
I’ve yet to speak with someone who’s tried Aurelia, and doesn’t love it as much as I do!
VENN Skin Care
The Synbiotic Defense Mist is packed with VENN’s proprietary combination of Prebiotics and Probiotic Ferments (80% of the formulation) and multiple, clinically proven actives that are certified to support your skins microbiome.
One extremely skin care-savvy friend, totally raves about the VENN products!
Developed by Dr Marie Drago, a Dr in Pharmacy, Gallinée is a holistic range of products that work with your good bacteria to care for your whole body’s microbiome.
Most of their products are fragrance free, which is great news for those of us with extra sensitive skin.
A bonus is that Gallinée also offer a skin microbiome test, which allows you to assess and monitor the health of your skin.
PS _ I’ve had my skin microbiome test results and will report on how I get on!
What are some skincare products that may kill bacteria and modify the microbiome?
The rule of thumb is to avoid harsh skin care products and choose gentle cleansers and moisturizers that won’t disrupt your skin microbiome.
So, is microbiome skincare worth it?
Evidence is building for the benefits of probiotics to help improve how our skin looks and feels.
However, there’s a big caution here, as not all probiotic skin care products are created equal.
As with the surge in probiotic supplements, skin care companies are racing to join the fast-growing area of microbiome-friendly products. Quality, invariably, will vary!
Do your probiotic product research
Look for products that are backed by evidence – such as the ones listed above – and expect to pay that little bit extra for those probiotic products that can back up their claims with science.
As we continue to learn about the role of our skins microbiome in how our skin looks and feels, it’s really turning on its head the age-old belief that ‘all’ microbes are bad.
In fact, understanding how good bacteria (and other microbes) can support your health, can help boost your well-being – inside and out!
Verdict: Skin care heroes in the making –
if you go for the science-backed products 😊
NOTE: This does not constitute or substitute for medical advice! Seek professional healthcare advice as needed
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Sources and further reading:
Impact of gut microbiome on skin health: gut-skin axis observed through the lenses of therapeutics and skin diseases – PMC (nih.gov)
Skin Microbiome – The Health Benefits of Probiotics | Frontiers Research Topic (frontiersin.org)
What is microbiome skin care? Benefits of the trend explained | CNN Underscored