PROBIOTICS IN SKIN CARE
BUT FIRST... WHY PROBIOTICS IN SKIN CARE?
THE SKIN MICROBIOME:
Our skin has a dynamic living shield, that in return for food and a place to live, maintains the health and balance of our skin.
Like your own personal eco-system, microbial bacteria (probiotics) on the surface of your skin help maintain pH, strengthen and maintain your protective barrier, and guard against free radical damage.
They have a special relationship with inflammation too. An imbalance in their number is a great indicator of obvious and not so obvious inflamed tissue.
These microbial bacteria can become imbalanced, resulting in visible, uncomfortable or inconvenient skin symptoms.
WHAT CAUSES THE SKIN MICROBIOME TO GO OUT OF BALANCE?
Internal imbalances in our body (causing an imbalance in our internal skin... the digestive tract).
Systematic inflammation (from an imbalance or suboptimal health level in one or more of our organs, glands, arteries, veins, lymphatic system...)
Harsh skin + personal care products that strip skin's barrier or disrupt pH.
Over-use of products in general.
Using the wrong products for your skin.
Environmental factors (can't necessarily cause the microbiome to go out of balance, but they can exacerbate it, if it's already out of balance for other reasons.
WHAT ARE SOME SIGNS OF A DISRUPTED SKIN MICROBIOME?
Acne, Eczema, Rosacea, Dermatitis.
Allergic reactions (not necessarily indicating a specific imbalance, but a sign that the immune system of your skin isn't compatible with an ingredient or can't process it with the current mix of microbes on your skin.
Over dryness, over oiliness, low hydration levels, redness, soreness, scaliness, flakiness, dandruff.
ITS FOR THIS REASON APPLYING THEM TOPICALLY IS BECOMING POPULAR IN SKIN CARE
Although, I think it's important to point out, the microbes on our skin do not cause skin issues. Their imbalance is a symptom of something else. And just like all of us who have different needs, preferences and purposes, our friends who live on our skin are doing their job perfectly.
For example: There are no "bad" bacteria. The bacteria present when skin is inflamed are designed to thrive on waste and clean up inflammation (like a clean up crew). And they do a good job of letting us know something is out of balance. They'll reduce in numbers again, once skin is back in balance.
DO PROBIOTICS IN SKIN CARE REALLY WORK?
Well, it's actually really difficult to include live probiotics in a skin care formula. They die pretty soon after being mixed with other ingredients. Especially preservatives, which are designed specifically to kill microbes and make products shelf stable (safety first!). Products that claim live probiotics in their formulas must go through rigorous third party testing to prove their selected microbes survive in the formula.
So, it will be very rare that you will actually use a product that contains live probiotics. But, you might use some that contain dead ones! (seriously xo). And they may have some benefit. You might also benefit from products that contain ingredients that feed the microbes already living on your skin. Or ingredients that provide the balanced environment created by microbes eating. (now I'm hungry).
HERE'S A BREAKDOWN OF WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT
Live microorganisms that live on our skin, or can be applied topically. Most skin care doesn't contain live probiotics. Their microbial sounding ingredients have moved on to the afterlife. But, they may have been a part of the Postbiotic process (see below).
Food for the microorganisms that live on our skin. The microbes that live on our skin are alive! Feeding them can help keep them balanced and thriving in good numbers. There's not a lot of research into what our skin microbiome likes to eat. We do have some studies that show they don't crave the same foods as our internal microbiomes. And this makes sense. Nature made it so the microbes on our skin would always have good to eat, regardless of whether or not we're walking around with probiotics on our face (although they will eat them if they're there). Their preferred food seems to be dead skin and nutrients that leave our skin through sweat and sebum. Genius.
Fermented of cultured plants, fruits or botanicals
(provides the already balanced environment, directly to the skin, thereby crowding out undesirable microbes and inflammation, quickly repairing skin imbalances).
non-living, lab synthesized parts of probiotic microorganisms. Lystates are not living probiotics, and they never were at any time during the formulation of a product. But they do show some promise and stimulate hydration by the way they are reacted to by the microbes that are present on our skin.
SO WHICH ONE WORKS BEST?
That's gong to depend on the current health and state of your skin. The one that works best for you is the one that suits your skin goals. Take a look at the explanations above and see if any of them are ringing any bells for you and your skin. If something sticks out to you, look for those types of ingredients in the skin care you choose.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN SKIN CARE
Well formulated to support, maintain, strengthen or gently rebalance the microbiome.
Formulators that have in depth knowledge of the ingredients they use, and how skin works. Including, but not limited to, the microbiome.
TIPS TO NOURISH YOUR SKIN MICROBIOME NATURALLY
Safeguard against over-cleansing, over-exfoliating, and over-anything-ing. Moderate use of all skin care will actually help your skin microbiome thrive.
Over cleansing, over-exfoliating or using a lot of products can repeatedly disrupt the balance of bacteria living on your skin, causing you to have to use even more products to repair and replenish what is lost.
Use a nourishing facial oil, daily, to replenish healthy oils and give your population something it really likes to munch on.
Oil or balm cleansing is a great way to dissolve and remove stagnant sebum, purge pores, and keep your skin's natural oils fresh and flowing freely.
Start a homemade yogurt of kefir masking ritual. Those babies are alive!
Use fresh made skin care that contains fermented ingredients.
Use prebiotic skin care to feed and soothe your skin microbiome.
Healthy diet in line with your body's current needs.
(There is no one right diet. The one that's right for you is the one that supplies all your body's needs without causing inflammation or depleting nutrients.
I highly recommend nutrient and genetic testing to see what your body needs, might be missing or not digesting, and to give you insight into using your genetic blueprint as a map for optimal health + wellbeing.
Well hydrated, pH balanced skin with a healthy skin barrier are more likely to benefit from the products in the rest of our routine, and less likely to have adverse reactions to products.
If you're experiencing skin imbalances, or are looking to boost or support the health and vitality of your skin, feeding the bacteria that already live there (with probiotics), and using skin care with fermented ingredients (postbiotics) may be the most reliable way to create or restore the healthy eco-system of your skin.
OH! AND ONE MORE THING
THIS PLANET IS A LICVING BEING. AND WE HUMANS ARE IT'S MICROBIOME.
JUST BY BEING YOU, YOU'RE CONTRIBUTING TO THE HEALTHY FUNCTION + VITALITY OF THE WHOLE PLANET.
YOU ARE AMAZING.