Dry, itchy skin, acne, eczema, fine lines, and loss of elasticity. These are all concerns most people have across their lifespan. While creams and serums are what typically come to mind when searching for remedies to address skin woes, nutritional strategies are often overlooked.
Most have heard of the gut microbiome, which is host to trillions of species
of microscopic life, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. But these tiny lifeforms don’t just exist in your intestines; they thrive all over your body.
What you may not have known is that your skin has its own microbiome. In fact, 1.5 trillion microbes take residence on your body’s largest organ, including about 1000 species of bacteria. Diverse species exist on separate layers of your skin
, down to the subcutaneous hypodermis, the third and final layer.
Your skin and its host of microscopic life act as a physical barrier protecting you from pathogenic invasion, subduing inflammation, and balancing your skin. Supporting your skin microbiome from the inside is something you can do with skin probiotics.
Skin probiotics encourage natural balance
Skin probiotics are supplements that supply gut bacteria aimed at supporting all the colonies of bacteria on and in your body, including your skin. Evidence shows getting enough prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics can encourage a healthy balance of good bacteria, which work to keep less desirable bacteria at bay.
The natural balance of your skin microbiome can become easily disrupted due to several factors such as environmental pollution, UV light exposure, diet, stress, lack of exercise, whether or not you smoke, skincare products, and hormones.
When good bacteria are in balance, they can help your skin produce ceramides
, lipids (fats) in skin cells. These fats are essential for hydrated, moisturized skin since they effectively trap moisture.
Ceramides also prevent acne-causing bacteria from multiplying out of control. While some acne-causing bacteria, C. acnes, is good, if it multiplies too much due to imbalance, it could lead to breakouts. But the good bacteria on your skin can help keep it under control.
What to look for in probiotics for skin
A wide range of probiotic strains
with high enough colony-forming units (CFUs) are top signs of quality when choosing a skin probiotic. Depending on your needs, you may want to ensure your choice includes specific strains of bacteria.
Although research is new and ongoing, evidence points to Lactobacillus
, L. acidophilus
, and B. bifudum
as highly beneficial for the skin. Other studied strains that may boost skin health include Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
and Bacillus coagulans
Choosing a skin probiotic with at least 1 billion CFUs
. The greater the CFUs, the more bacteria per serving is included. While an extremely high number such as 100 billion doesn’t necessarily mean a better result, choosing a decently high number is wise to ensure high quality.
Another critical feature to look for when choosing skin probiotics is the inclusion of prebiotics
. These added fibers act as food for the bacteria
you are introducing, helping them flourish and multiply
. These fibers are non-digestible, so they remain in your gut, where they continue to ferment through bacterial action.
This process also releases short-chain fatty acids that are absorbed into your bloodstream and sent to other organs, including your skin, where they provide additional health benefits. This is part of what’s called the gut-skin axis, an essential factor of skin health.
Lastly, if you are plant-based or concerned about the environmental impact of your skin probiotic supplement, look into the manufacturing process and other ingredients involved, including the capsules.
A vegetarian capsule is best if you want to avoid animal gelatin, and looking for one that is also acid resistant, so your skin probiotic reaches its intended destination is a good idea. To that end, choosing a brand that is shelf-stable without requiring refrigeration will ensure the microorganisms inside thrive and survive storage and transport. You may also want to look for allergens or GMOs if those factors concern you.
How to know if skin probiotics are right for you
If you are concerned about your skin or microflora, you should speak to your health care provider to learn more and get personalized advice. However, skin probiotics are safe and have solid research backing their use.
cannot replace thorough hygiene and skincare routines, but they may help you maintain a healthy, balanced microbiome for your gut and skin. Do your own research to learn more about the potential benefits of skin probiotics.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.