The Buzz Around Probiotic Skincare
Have you noticed the word “probiotic” popping up on more beauty products lately? Expect to see it a lot more, not just on food and dietary supplements, but also on skincare and cosmetics labels. The probiotics movement is here to stay, and for good reasons. 
So, what’s behind the buzz surrounding probiotic skincare?
This article explores the benefits probiotics provide and how they work with both the gut and skin microbiome for healthy and radiant skin. We cover:
· Probiotics & the microbiome
· How do probiotics help the skin?
· What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
· How do probiotics work in skincare products?
· How to choose the right probiotic products?
What are Probiotics?
You can think of probiotics as the “good” — or healthy — microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria found on and in the human body. Sometimes referred to as beneficial, friendly or ally bacteria, probiotics are microorganisms that have health benefits when consumed or applied to skin.
Probiotic foods have become increasingly popular with the growing awareness of gut health and its importance to overall body health, including their impact on the quality and appearance of your skin.
You can get your dose of probiotics in fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi, in dietary supplements, and now in beauty products as well.
Probiotics and the Skin MicrobiomeYour skin is your body’s largest living organ, and it’s tasked with consistently fending off physical, chemical, harmful bacterial and fungal challenges. How well it functions is fundamental to your overall health. Your skin health depends on the quality of your skin microbiome, a micro-ecosystem of 1.5 trillion symbiotic microorganisms that live primarily on the skin (there are another 100 trillion that live in the gut).
Probiotics in the skin microbiome can influence the body’s immune response, reduce swelling and redness, and even repair the damage caused by free radicals. They also help eliminate free radicals and toxins that may cause early signs of aging and damage. Evidence suggests that using oral or topical probiotics may prevent and treat skin conditions like UV-induced sun damage, dry skin, acne, eczema, and wounds. 
How do probiotics help the skin?
Your skin is naturally acidic, with an average pH of 4.7. To successfully fight off pathogens, infections, and conditions like acne, eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis, the skin must maintain a pH level between 4.5 and 5.5. Outside this optimal range, the protective film on the outermost layer of skin (aka, the “acid mantle”) is disrupted and can throw the skin microbiome out of balance. Below this range, the acid mantle can break down and reduce the skin’s ability to protect itself. Above this range, more alkaline pH strips protective oils, leading to skin that’s dry and sensitive and at risk for eczema and inflammation. Simply put, ideal pH is necessary for ideal skin health.
A variety of factors can push the skin’s pH outside its optimal range. Pollution and pathogens from the air, sun, and water serve as stressors that can contribute to more alkaline skin. Probiotics come to the rescue by helping the skin protect and repair itself.
Probiotics help maintain the skin’s optimal pH by lowering the skin’s pH by increasing the body’s production of lactic acid, which serves as a natural exfoliant in the AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) family. Water-soluble AHAs work on the skin’s surface and deliver several desired benefits, including skin exfoliation, increased hydration, and brighter skin tone. This makes them ideal for skincare products.
Another way to increase your lactic acid is by exercising. Muscles produce and use lactic acid for energy to power your body during strenuous activity. Sweat is primarily made of lactic acid, so you can sweat your way to healthier skin!
To recap, eating probiotic-rich foods, exercising, and adding probiotics and prebiotics to your skincare or supplement regimen are all effective ways to promote healthier skin.
What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial microbes, and when you use products that contain them, you are essentially introducing more ally bacteria into your body. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are nourishment or fuel for existing microbes, supporting the growth of the ally bacteria you already have. The shared goal of both prebiotics and probiotics is to create a thriving, well-balanced, diverse, and healthy micro-ecosystem in your body.
Prebiotic is a broad term that describes anything used to shape and change the microbial environment to promote health. They boost healthy bacteria and mitigate the harmful impact of bad bacteria, which helps balance skin pH and support your skin’s immune and barrier function.
There are several types of prebiotics, and the majority are complex carbohydrates and starch such as non-digestible fibers, pectins, beta glucans, and inulins. Other examples are oligosaccharides: fructo-oligosaccharides, galacto-oligosaccharides, glucose-derived oligosaccharides, and starch oligosaccharides. Non-carbohydrate oligosaccharides are considered prebiotics found in cocoa-derived flavanols. 
When ingested, prebiotics are non-digestible by your stomach acid or enzymes, so they pass through the small intestine and feed intestinal bacteria. Prebiotics act as fertilizer for your microflora. Their byproducts (aka: postbiotics) are released into blood circulation, bringing more blood flow to the cells.
You can find prebiotics in a long list of foods ranging from garlic and onions to legumes, artichokes, and bananas. Fruits and vegetables rich in fiber and starch are a great source of prebiotics. Non-digestible Resistant starch (RS) has also caught on as a preferable source of prebiotics.  RS studies show it produces a high level of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid essential for intestinal and immune health, inflammation reduction, and cancer protection. RS foods include under-ripe bananas, plantains, lentils, and oats, and can be consumed as flour or as supplements.
There are thousands of bacteria strains that are classified as probiotics. The most common include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces Boulardii, Streptococcus Thermophiles, and Bacillus Coagulans. Probiotics are usually divided into two types: Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and non-lactic acid bacteria (NLAB).
1. LAB strains – Mostly found in the gastrointestinal tract (GI), they help maintain a healthy gut by acting against harmful microorganisms.
2. NLAB strains – they don’t grow well in the GI tract and are instead grown specifically for usage as probiotic supplements. NLAB strains exert anti-inflammatory effects and modulate the immune system.
You can take probiotics either by ingesting or by applying topically. Oral probiotics treat skin diseases like acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and wound healing. Topical probiotic skincare aims to promote healthy-looking skin by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria living on it. Keep your eye out for more research around topical probiotics and their benefits for skin disease and health.
How do probiotics work in skincare products?
Not all probiotic skincare is created equal. The bacteria most commonly used in probiotic skincare products include the dairy propionic acid bacteria (PAB) lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Genuine probiotic skincare products are free of harmful preservatives and must be refrigerated. Many cosmetic formulations have high water content, requiring preserving agents that would destroy any probiotics or beneficial bacteria.
In Dermatology Times, Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D, states, ”For a probiotic skincare product to be effective, the bacteria must demonstrate adhesion to the skin, transient colonization, resistance toward potential pathogens, and production of antimicrobial substances.”
She clarifies that many probiotic skincare products contain bacterially fermented ingredients, not necessarily live bacteria. A handful of successful unrefrigerated formulas contain inactivated bacterial extracts from PAB.  In other words, only refrigerated, preservative-free skincare products can include live probiotics.
Some studies suggest probiotics can help fight skin aging by protecting the skin from UV damage and free radicals that damage your skin cells. Probiotics also provide anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that strengthen the skin barrier, increase resilience against stressors and pathogens, and combat conditions like acne and rosacea. Certain probiotics also boost ceramides and fats to trap moisture in the skin, increasing hydration, preventing reactions and flare-ups, and soothing sensitive and dry skin.
Probiotics are becoming the preferred alternative to antibiotic treatments for acne. Studies link the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria to antibiotics that clear out the helpful bacteria. This can trigger dysbiosis — a disruption of the balanced skin microbiome. People who treated their acne with topical probiotics have reported reduced lesion size and improved skin barrier function.  Although more research is needed, current studies suggest that topical probiotics could reduce acne breakouts without systemic side effects by restoring and nourishing the microbiome and improve overall skin health.
How to choose the right probiotics
More research is warranted to gain a deeper understanding of the microbiome and the impacts of topical probiotics. When vetting your probiotic brand, look for companies that provide research on their website to support any claims about a product. A fair and transparent brand shares information like the specific probiotic and its function.
Like any other supplement, probiotics are not the end-all-be-all. Probiotics work best with a healthy and balanced diet, exercise, proper hydration, and consistent skincare routines.
LightWater skincare products contain probiotic-based ingredient called Lactobacillus Ferment for optimal skin pH, barrier function, and moisturization. LightWater’s approach to skincare promises multi-functional, skin microbiome-friendly formulas that balance, hydrate, and protect the skin with clinically tested probiotics that are safe for all skin types. LightWater delivers skin nutrition with fresh, skin-essential ingredients that provide vital nourishment on a cellular level. By feeding skin with the nourishment it needs, LightWater products support skin’s natural functions, such as defense and repair, and promote better skin health. Experience the benefits of probiotic skincare for yourself and feel the fresh skincare difference with our Fresh Daily Duo morning and evening moisturizers.
From preventing inflammation to strengthening the skin microbiome to improving hydration, the right probiotics can do a lot to promote optimal skin health and appearance. They help restore and maintain balance in the delicate microbiome ecosystem that protects you from the countless organic and environmental factors you’re exposed to every day. Choosing the right skincare products will nourish your skin to look and feel its best.
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