Probiotic Skincare is Trending. Here's What you Need to Know
By now, you’re probably pretty familiar with probiotics.
Many people have added them to their diets in the form of yogurt, kombucha, or supplements to obtain the gut-balancing properties that have been linked to numerous health benefits including immune support, alleviating allergies, and keeping our hearts healthy.
But we are not here to talk about the many internal health benefits of probiotics. We summoned you to this article today to talk about a new trend in healthy bacteria: probiotic skincare.
This new trend is gaining speed, and for good reason. Just like internal varieties, topical probiotics can have biome-balancing properties as well. Skin-friendly bacteria are promoted to help soothe inflammation, strengthen the skin’s barrier, and even diminish acne.
So, as this skincare trend is gaining steam, we’ll take you on a dive deep into exactly what you need to know before trying probiotic skincare and some products to give a whirl.
What is your microbiome?
Each area of our body has its own unique microbiome which is made up of mostly good viruses, fungi, and bacteria. The microbiome of our skin, which is the largest organ of our bodies, helps to regulate inflammation and serves as a barrier against pathogens.
“Good” skin bacteria can help fight off pathogenic bacteria, like the antibiotic-resistant strain Staphylococcus aureus. But, balance is always key. The Cutibacterium acnes bacteria can also be beneficial for your skin. However, if too much is present, it can lead to acne.
There are numerous factors that can contribute to imbalances in our skin microbiomes, such as chronic inflammation, stress, and diet. When this balance gets disturbed, it can result in skin conditions including acne, eczema, and rosacea.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacterias and yeasts that are good for you and especially good for your digestive system. Our body is full of both good and bad bacterias, and probiotics are among some of the best bacterias for you.
In their more traditional form, probiotics help to replace the good bacteria that one might lose while, say, taking a round of antibiotics, for example. They also work to balance the good and bad bacteria in our bodies to keep us at optimal health.
There are many types of bacteria that are classified as probiotics, and they all have different benefits. Lactobacillus is the most common strain of probiotics and is found in fermented foods and kombucha. This strain tends to be very popular when it comes to probiotic skincare along with the bifidobacterium strain.
What about prebiotics and postbiotics?
While probiotics have gained the most traction with consumers, prebiotics and postbiotics are worthy of attention as well.
Prebiotics are essentially fertilizer for good bacteria, feeding and supporting healthy bacteria and working to keep bad bacteria in check.
Prebiotics help shape the microbial environment and the way it promotes health. As we mentioned above, skin conditions like rosacea and atopic dermatitis can impair the skin’s barrier over time, leading to an increased amount of bad bacteria. Just like their probiotic buddies, prebiotics can help to balance skin’s pH and support barrier function which leads to a boost in healthy bacteria.
Overall, there have been fewer studies on the benefits of prebiotics versus probiotics, but it is still slowly showing up in the skincare aisle and is worth adding to your routine.
Postbiotics are bioactive compounds that are created when healthy bacteria in our gut (probiotics) feed on various types of prebiotic foods such as fibers.
These bioactive compounds are considered the waste products of probiotic bacteria but they do offer various health benefits in the body. In fact, most of the health benefits that are linked to both prebiotics and probiotics actually come from the production of postbiotics.
How does probiotic skincare work?
Probiotic skincare (and prebiotic and postbiotic skincare) was created to help us achieve a balanced skin microbiome and restore healthy skin.
Similar to how probiotics treat and prevent problems in the gut, topical versions have been found to have calming effects on the skin by providing the skin surface with good bacteria to help skin cells flourish. When the skin barrier is balanced it effectively regulates oil production, naturally stays hydrated, and can fight off free radicals.
Certain probiotics have been shown to boost the skin’s production of ceramides, which are lipids that trap moisture in the skin and keep acne-causing bacteria in check.
Some studies have also concluded that probiotics can help to battle skin conditions such as aging and even skin cancer.
Our skin pH increases with age, which makes it drier and allows more bad bacteria to grow. UV damage from the sun also hinders the skin’s ability to fight free radicals, which can have direct negative impacts on our skin. Probiotics work to help balance the skin’s pH and protect against free radical damage.
Consuming probiotic foods has also been linked to helping improve skin conditions from the inside out. Prebiotic foods have been shown to decrease the risk of developing allergic skin diseases like eczema and improve the skin’s barrier function.
What to look for in probiotic skincare
Studies have shown that both probiotics and prebiotics work more effectively and efficiently when they are paired together. There are a few bacterial strains that have demonstrated clear benefits to skin and are common additions to skincare products.
- Bifidobacterium helps to reduce skin sensitivity and boost ceramides. Products containing this strain are particularly good for people with eczema or rosacea and those with overly dry or irritated skin.
- Lactobacillus may help improve the skin’s barrier function to reduce acne and redness.
- Vitreoscillia helps to reduce water loss and improve skin conditions such as eczema.
- Bacillus coagulans may help to increase free radical scavengers to fight skin aging.
- Staphylococcus hominis and Staphylococcus epidermidis work to suppress the growth of bacteria that can increase symptoms of eczema and dry skin.
- Streptococcus thermophilus has been linked to increased production of ceramides helping to combat dry and sensitive skin.
While many skincare products don’t clearly label their pre- and pro-biotic ingredients, there are some common ingredients to look for such as plant sugars, amino acids, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Postboitic ingredients to look for are peptides and fatty acids.
It is also important to note that all of the skincare products that you use in your daily routine can alter your skin microbiome. So, if you are looking to add in some probiotic and prebiotic skincare products, be sure to look at the rest of your beauty counter to make sure they aren’t at odds with each other.
Scrubbing your skin with harsh astringents or abrasive cleansers can damage your skin barrier and kill off its natural good bacteria, so opt for a gentle cleanser instead.
On the flip side, washing your face twice daily and applying a good moisturizer and sunscreen daily works to maintain a healthy skin microbiome. Look for moisturizers with a pH from 5 to 7 and cleaners with a pH of 4.5 to 7 to help optimize your skin’s pH.
You'll find a ton of perfect-for-you vegan products at Kinder Beauty!
The best vegan probiotic skincare products
We’ve curated a list of the best vegan probiotic skincare products out there. Explore, indulge, and enjoy!
Double Cleanse Kit
Glowasis is a clean beauty brand dedicated to probiotic skincare.
This duo works to deeply cleanse your skin without disturbing the skin’s microbiome. The Makeup Melt Cleansing Balm paired with the award-winning Cloud Cleanse Cloud-Whipped Foam Cleanser work together to wash away impurities above and below the skin’s surface.
Both products are infused with vegan probiotics and prickly pear extract to strengthen the skin’s microbiome while helping to prevent breakouts, irritation, and premature aging.
OAT So Sweet Daily Moisturizer
This probiotic moisturizer from Dermala was formulated to help calm and heal acne-prone skin, nourishing with proprietary SE Microbiome Complex® and SE Sugar Complex™ for extra hydration.
This moisturizer also works to improve skin tone and texture while brightening dark spots.
HydraFlora Probiotic Toner
This toner from HydroPeptide uses pre- and pro-biotics to help balance out the microflora on the skin’s surface and give it a “lit-from-within.”
The rich blend of botanical extracts also packs a healthy punch of antioxidants to help protect the skin from free radical damage. The coconut water and blue agave refine the look of pores and smooth the overall texture.
Probiotic Acne Serum
If you are looking at probiotic skincare to help with acne-prone skin, you may wish to try out a targeted serum.
This probiotic acne serum from Cocokind helps to treat acne, blackheads, and clogged pores. The microbiome-friendly postbiotics in the formula helps to hydrate, reduce inflammation, and promote a clear complexion without irritation or dryness.
Probiotics are paired with 1.5% salicylic acid that works on the skin’s surface to slough off dead skin cells and clear pores.
Vitamin C Probiotic Polish
This water-activated powder exfoliant from Osea is packed with 50% vitamin C that works to fade the appearance of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone.
Bamboo and rice powders are infused with fermented pomegranate enzymes that gently remove surface build-up, while the vegan probiotic polishes and smooths your skin for instant and lasting radiance.
Unifying & Rebalancing Complex
This formula from Typology is loaded with three different probiotics to help rebalance the skin’s ecosystem to prevent the appearance of imperfections and reduce overall redness.
A-glucan Oligosaccharide is a prebiotic that feeds the skin good bacteria and deters unwanted microorganisms. Polysaccharide is extracted from the chicory root and forms a protective film on the surface of the skin. And lactobacillus ferment lysate works to maintain the skin’s protective barrier and rebalance the skin surface.
Coconut Probiotic Water Rehab Cream
This vegan formula from Pacifica helps support stressed skin in its recovery and promotes a more radiant skin appearance.
The combination of vegan probiotics, plant extracts, and coconut water works together to support skin stressed from late nights, pollution, and lack of sleep. It works great on all skin types and is deeply hydrating.
Sensitive Skincare Discovery Set
Struggling with sensitive skin? This four-piece probiotic set from Biossance is crafted especially for you.
The Squalane and Elderberry Jelly Cleanser is designed to remove impurities while never upsetting the skin’s delicate microbiome. The eye cream works to visibly lift, firm, and smooth the look of undereye skin. The Squalane and Probiotic Gel Moisturizer is infused with probiotic technology to help restore the skin’s natural radiance. Lastly, the 100% Squalane Oil locks in hydration, leaving the skin exceptionally soft and smooth.
Skin Squad Pre+Probiotic Capsules
Looking to take an inside-out approach to your skincare? Add this pre- and pro-biotic supplement from HUM Nutrition to your routine.
This formula is crafted with 9 strains of probiotics to specifically target skin issues, working to balance the gut microbiome, minimize breakouts, and even skin tone. A full 88% of users noted a decrease in breakouts while using.
Jackie Lutze has been writing about cruelty-free beauty for years and loves finding the best vegan products to help readers build their ultimate beauty routine.