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Probiotics is a wellness buzzword that is thrown around a lot these days. A type of “good” bacteria first marketed as a food or dietary supplement, now they’re marking their territory in the beauty industry. This sector is anticipated to reach $37.8 million by 2025 and can be found in cleansers, moisturizers, masks, serums, and other skincare categories.
Bacteria are known to exist on our skin. There’s a community of them, in fact, called the microbiome found beneath the top layer of our dead skin. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are plenty of things that can throw the bacterial balance off, such as soaps, face scrubs, and medications like antibiotics. Therefore, “Those bacteria are essential to fight infection, protect against environmental damage, regulate pH levels and keep the skin hydrated and healthy.”
Research shows that the use of probiotics can help prevent and treat skin diseases by fighting “bad bacteria” with “good bacteria,” as well as balance our skin microbiome the same way they do for the gut.
A 2019 review of the research evaluating the effectiveness of applying specific probiotic microorganisms for preventing wound inflammation and improving the healing process speed was positive. The researchers observed that there was an overall improvement when burn wounds were treated with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast found in many beauty categories such as foundation, serum, and moisturizers. However, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) stated that while “consuming probiotics (live bacteria and yeast) may help improve our overall health — and even treat diseases,” it’s“difficult to find effective results because there are so many types and products, and everyone has a different microbiome.”
Many beauty brands have been jumping on the probiotics wagon using both live bacteria and non-live probiotics for its products. Aurelia Probiotic Skincare, for example, formulates its skincare with a non-live probiotic from bifidobacteria, one of the most common probiotic bacteria found in the human body. On the other hand, Mother Dirt uses live bacteria to create its A0+ Mist, a fact that purportedly sets it apart from its competitors, who are concerned about preservatives and spoilage.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has pointed out that the regulation of probiotics in the United States is complex: “Depending on a probiotic product’s intended use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might regulate it as a dietary supplement, a food ingredient, or a drug.” The Dermatology Times has stated that “the FDA currently does not have a position on the use of probiotics in cosmetics.”
In short, there is some evidence probiotics could help your skin, but the proof is not definitive. Still, if you’re one of those people who have had their digestive system revolutionized by yogurt, kimchi and kombucha, there doesn’t seem to be any harm in trying it on your skin!
If you are interested in introducing probiotics to your skincare routine, here are some brands that aim to maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the skin.
TULA is a clean, toxic-free probiotic skincare brand made with superfoods. Its cruelty-free products target all skin types and skin tones and are free of harmful preservatives such as parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, and sulfates.
Based in England, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare formulates clean and natural skincare by fusing BioOrganic botanicals and essential oils with probiotic ingredients. Its cruelty-free products are made without sulfates, parabens, and mineral oils, and its packaging is made out of recyclable glass and jars.
Kinship formulates clean, plant-based probiotic skincare that is free of parabens, sulfates, and fragrances. The vegan brand is dermatologist tested, and its shipping materials are made from post-consumer recycled materials.
Esse is a certified organic and cruelty-free skincare brand that uses live probiotics for its formulations. The vegan brand is certified by Ecocert, which bans ingredients deemed unsustainable or unsafe and audits the production facility to ensure full traceability of all raw materials.
Founded in 2015, Mother Dirt is known for its live probiotic spray made out of Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB), which works in harmony with its plant-based formulations. Its products are made without added preservatives, and its packaging is recyclable.
Biossance is a 100% plant-based squalane skincare line that ethically and sustainably sources its ingredients. The brand formulated a probiotic gel moisturizer with squalane suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
REN Clean Skincare creates sustainable products formulated with more than 97% plant, and mineral derived actives designed for all skin types. The brand developed a silicone-free primer with probiotics to promote a healthy microbiome on your skin’s surface. Its products are free of chemical ingredients like synthetic fragrance and colors, mineral oil, sulfate detergents, and parabens. REN Clean Skincare’s bottles are made with Ocean Plastic and its tubes from post-consumer-recycled plastic.