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Every so often, the skin care world gets taken over by trends and ingredients that people suddenly can’t get enough of. Some appear to be unlikely heroes at first but have since gone on to prove that they truly are skin care powerhouses (like coconut oil). Probiotics belong to that category of ingredients that may raise some eyebrows.
Toxins in the body can lead to acne and spots, these acne-causing toxins can build up due to factors such as air pollution, overactive hormones, and largely, from dysbiosis.
‘Dysbiosis’ describes an imbalance of good (probiotic) and bad (pathogenic) bacteria in the gut, and is caused by various environmental factors including diet, stress, and prolonged antibiotic therapy. Symptoms of dysbiosis include low energy levels, Candida overgrowth, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, indigestion, and acne. Learn more about dysbiosis here.
Most of what people know about probiotics come from yogurt commercials—they’re the “friendly” bacteria that make sure your gut stays healthy, balanced and toxin-free and your immune system remains in top form. But what exactly are probiotics, and more important, are they really good for your skin?
“Probiotics are micro-organisms that restore good bacteria to the digestive tract,” says registered nutritionist and dietician Alana Kessler. “They can be found in supplement forms such as powders or pills and in fermented foods like kefir, cultured vegetables like sauerkraut and miso, fermented soybeans, yogurt, apple cider vinegar and raw cheese.”
“There are numerous strands of probiotics that are beneficial to our health. The most common groups are called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, both produce lactic acid, of which Lactobacillus produces more.” Lactic acid is known for its anti-aging and anti-acne benefits. They can also improve overall gut health and play a key role in strengthening the immune system.
Since the , experts have been postulating the gut-brain-skin axis theory, believing that a person’s emotional state—whether it’s anxiety, stress or depression—can alter the functions of the gastrointestinal tract and cause bad or unhealthy bacteria to build up. This, in turn, causes inflammation that leads to breakouts and flare-ups for those with skin conditions like rosacea, acne or eczema. Hence, the importance of keeping probiotics in your diet.
“Probiotics aid in creating a healthy gut, so there is less toxicity being reabsorbed into the bloodstream,” shares Kessler. “Toxins inhibit the absorption of important vitamins, minerals and nutrients and interfere with the body’s ability to rid itself of necessary waste, causing inflammation.”
When applied topically, probiotics have also been found to provide numerous benefits. “Like dietary probiotics impact your stomach’s biome, probiotic skin care products try to promote a healthy skin biome by influencing the types of bacteria that live on your skin,” explains board-certified dermatologist Janet Prystowsky, M.D.
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Franziska Ringpfeil says probiotics have “demonstrated a stabilizing effect in inflammatory conditions such as acne and rosacea.” According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a study has shown that probiotics have a calming effect on the skin and prevent the immune system from attacking other living micro-organisms, thus reducing flare-ups.
Probiotics have been shown to reduce the threat of infection and reinforce the skin’s natural defenses against bad bacteria, pollution and free radical damage. “By producing antimicrobials and compounds that reduce the skin’s pH, probiotics also protect your skin from transient pathogens that could disrupt normal skin function,” says Dr. Prystowsky.
Topical probiotics promote better moisture absorption and aid in delaying the signs of aging. Lactic acid helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, tightens pores and contains exfoliating properties that improve dry and dull skin. They also contain nourishing properties that soothe sun-damaged skin.
As you will have seen above, there is hugely promising evidence in support of probiotics for skin health. Look after your gut and your skin, by trying a probiotic supplement.