Already a mainstay of gut health products, skincare research increasingly points to the benefits of microbes on skin cell processes.
“Our skin has over 1,000 microbial species living on its surface that are instrumental in many skin cell processes,” Marie Drago, a doctor of pharmacy and creator of created probiotic skincare brand Gallinée, tells Daily Mail. “They help cells communicate and they modulate an over-enthusiastic immune response, meaning they help prevent rashes and allergic reactions. We’re only just beginning to understand the many ways bacteria can benefit our skin.”
Skincare has, in the past, emphasized cleansing products. But some believe this is contributing to a rise in adult acne, psoriasis and rosacea. “Over-cleansing is a problem,” says Drago. “But it’s down to the products we wash with, not washing itself. It’s when cleansing turns into a disinfecting exercise that we get into trouble.”
She recommends looking for products that contain mild surfactants and are free of harsh ingredients such as alcohols, sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulphate. Glycolic acid can damage microflora, although mild acids such as lactic acid can help them grow.
Moisturizers may be the best vehicle for microbiome-supporting bugs. Dr. Roshini Raj, a gastroenterologist and developer of Tula skincare, says probiotics in moisturizers have a “soothing, anti-inflammatory effect. They add to the complex of lipids, acids and organisms that shield the skin from toxins, irritants and bad microbes.” Moisturizers containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains of probiotics are a becoming more common among probiotic creams.
Masks, eye creams, and exfoliating scrubs with microbiome-boosting bacteria are also proliferating at the beauty counter. There is also evidence, experts say, that beneficial bacteria increase collagen production and have antioxidant properties.