Skincare's latest impressive ingredient is invisible to the naked eye - but experts say good bacteria may hold the secret to calm, clear, healthy-looking skin. Synonymous with balance and good health, probiotics are slipping into our beauty regimes. So what exactly are probiotics, and why are they so good for skin?
The Lowdown on Bacteria
If “bacteria” is a dirty word in your book, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. Our bodies contain 'good' bacteria and 'bad' bacteria. Collectively, they form a diverse and complex ecosystem known as the microbiome.
Good bacteria play a crucial role in keeping us healthy. They support our gut health, which is integral to having strong immune function. As part of our digestive system, they make up our gut flora, supporting digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Probiotics are living strains of these healthy bacteria.
As for bad bacteria? We can handle a few bad bugs – they are, after all, just some of the trillions of micro-organisms that make up our microbiome. But, balance is key.
Your Skin’s Microbiome
Bacteria don’t just live in your gut; they are also your skin’s unseen heroes. Skin plays host to around 1,000 species of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Our unique microbiome (or skin microflora) is influenced by our genetics, the places we live, and the pollutants and products we're exposed to.
A healthy and balanced microbiome supports and protects the skin's natural barrier. Disruption of these bacteria levels can lead to a weakened skin barrier, causing irritation and redness.
Probiotics Skincare Benefits
We know that probiotics can nurture the health of our gut. Now, a growing body of research shows that probiotics in skincare can support the health of our skin. They do this in three important ways.
- Probiotics help support a strong skin barrier
Spare a thought for your skin: the body’s largest organ, it’s your first line of defence against the world outside. Each day we expose our skin to a barrage of environmental stress. Chemicals, pollutants, weather, UV rays, air conditioning, heating, lighting, toxins, allergens; you name it.
Probiotics cultivate an environment of healthy bacteria that acts as a protective shield, supporting the natural repair processes within your skin’s barrier. A stronger barrier is not only better able to defend against pollutants. It also helps to prevent our skin from losing moisture (trans-epidermal water loss, or TEWL) which means skin stays hydrated for longer.
- Probiotics help balance your microbiome
Pollution and harsh skincare products can mess up the balance of your skin microflora, allowing bad bacteria to take over. The result: blemished and clogged skin. When applied to skin, probiotics help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria. This in turn can help support balanced oil production and balance your skin’s pH levels, contributing to clearer skin.
- Probiotics can help calm your skin’s appearance
Roughness and redness can be signs of stressed skin. Probiotics can help calm the skin, and may also offer protection against the appearance of photoaging and pollution.
Prebiotics vs Probiotics: What’s the Difference?
The term “probiotics” is often used as an umbrella term for prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics; but their functions are very different. Think of prebiotics as food for probiotics. The fibres in certain plants, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and soybeans are all sources of prebiotics. The healthy bacteria that live in your digestive system feed off this non-digestible fibre.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that live naturally in the body. Pure probiotics have a short shelf life and must be stored at low temperatures. Because they are so hard to preserve, probiotics aren't suitable for skincare.
That’s where postbiotics come in. Also referred to as “non-live probiotics,” postbiotics are a stable form of probiotic, developed through a fermentation process using non-living bacteria. These powerful compounds of good bacteria are stable, so they can be incorporated into beauty formulations.
Probiotics in Skincare
With the science stacking up, beauty brands like Antipodes® are harnessing the power of probiotics in skincare. Culture Probiotic Night Recovery Water Cream is the latest development. The certified vegan night cream contains probiotics, plant-based hyaluronic acid, and hydrating New Zealand extracts such as mamaku black fern: ingredients specifically chosen to boost moisture levels and help strengthen the skin’s barrier, optimising skin recovery overnight. The cream’s ‘good’ bacteria is a special strain of non-live bacteria: Kalibiome AGE Probiotic.
The Science Behind Kalibiome AGE
Scientific tests on Kalibiome AGE confirm what the research says about probiotics: skin loves them. Extracted from live cells and double fermented to remove toxins, this innovative postbiotic helps support the skin barrier by sealing the skin’s epidermal layers, reducing water loss and protecting against environmental irritants like pollution. In-vivo test results show it targets the effects of photo-aging by helping to decrease skin redness and roughness; helps to increase hydration by stimulating the production of hyaluronic acid in skin cells; and helps increase elasticity by boosting Type I collagen. It’s ‘good’ bacteria that helps balance our skin’s ‘bad’ bacteria.
When To Use Probiotics In Skincare
The most effective way to experience the benefits of probiotics for skin, such as Kalibiome AGE, is through your skincare regime. A natural night cream like Culture provides a way to deliver good bacteria directly to your skin. And since skin recovers best at night, what better time to apply probiotic skincare?
Your Probiotic Skincare Ritual
Start your night-time ritual by cleansing skin with warm water and a gentle cleanser. We recommend a cleanser that is dermatologically approved for sensitive skin, such as Grace Gentle Cream Cleanser & Makeup Remover.
Once skin is cleansed, massage your favourite serum into your face and neck with gentle upward strokes. For particularly stressed skin, a facial oil like Divine Face Oil Rosehip & Avocado Oil provides much-needed nourishment.
Follow with a generous application of Culture Probiotic Night Recovery Water Cream. With pure plant fragrance of deep, fresh rose, the cloud-soft night cream does more than deliver good bacteria to your skin. It transforms your skincare ritual into a calming sensory experience. Sweet dreams indeed.
More Ways To Care For Your Microbiome
Skincare is one piece of the puzzle. It’s important to note that your products will perform best as part of a holistic regime of wellness. A baseline of healthy skin provides a balanced, calm canvas to support the effectiveness of your daily routine. Match your probiotic cream with these tips to achieve flourishing flora.
- Nurture your gut
It may seem obvious but keeping your diet in tip top shape spells good things for your gut, and for your skin. A diet low in sugar, with a healthy balance of plant foods, good fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and plenty of water, will reflect in your skin’s microbiome.
- Consume good bugs
Probiotic-rich foods such as kombucha, kefir, fermented vegetables and yoghurt can have a supportive effect on your microbiome. If you’re not a fan of fermented foods, probiotic supplements can ensure you’re getting plenty of good bacteria.
- Reduce stress
The link between our physical and mental health shouldn’t be overlooked. Studies measuring the effect of stress on the microbiome have found that stress can alter the balance of bacteria in the body and increase immune stress. Manage your stress levels with small, achievable steps. Gentle exercise, yoga, meditation, or consulting a professional can help.
This year, create a Culture of “balance” your mantra. The beauty world is beginning to harness the benefits of probiotics in skincare to help you do just that. With the power of good bacteria in calming creams, skin never felt so healthy.