Probiotics are generally seen as a solution for gut health, as you can see from the many probiotic products on just about any health food store’s shelf. However, what you may not realize is that we are discovering more and more about the human microbiome every day. For one, there are several microbiomes beyond the gut, including the mouth and skin. Bringing balance to these areas is important, so there’s a pretty good reason to apply probiotics to your skin.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are a type of bacteria that exist within the body, in many areas including the mouth, stomach, and colon. This may sound a bit unnerving at first, but is a natural part of the body and how it functions. In fact, human cells in the body are outnumbered by microorganisms at a 10 to 1 ratio.1 All these microorganisms, including types of probiotics in the body together are our microbiome, a sort of mini-ecosystem in our body. No microbiome is the same, even with identical twins.
We mentioned before how a microbiome is similar to an ecosystem like any forest or lake near your home. This starts as a blank slate when we are in the womb. After birth, it changes when we come into contact with various microbes. In particular, our diets play a role. Much scientific study has shown that the gut microbiome plays an important role in how we digest our food and process nutrients.2
This is the role of probiotic supplements. They bring balance back to the body’s ecosystem by reintroducing good bacteria. Studies have shown that this can help deal with common digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome. This is only scratching the surface of the potential of probiotics. Other possible effects include improved immunity, allergies, and even improvements in mood.3 In some cases, certain probiotics are a good match for certain groups, like expecting mothers. After all, if microbes are in all parts of the body, it stands to reason that introducing the best bacteria could stand to improve a number of different systems.
Can This Help My Skin?
It’s important to understand that the skin is regularly subjected to harsh environmental conditions that can lead to the growth of different organisms. When imbalanced, this can affect immune response and skin barrier functions. Studies show that alterations in skin microflora play a significant role in conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, and even potentially more serious conditions. 4
As a result, there are more and more topical probiotics that you may see on the shelf, often combined with other skin-friendly ingredients. The good thing about probiotic skin care is that it can be used preemptively or in terms of reactions. By this, it means that you don’t have to wait until you have a skin breakout or other similar issue before you start using probiotics. Sometimes, though, it may pay to talk to a dermatologist before you get started, just to get their advice on what products will help you the most. In addition, there are a lot of different options out there when it comes to picking skin probiotics. A dermatologist may help you find the best match.
However, if you’re looking to mix it up a bit, it may be to try and make your own home probiotic treatment for skin. This may sound a bit difficult, but in reality, all you need is some probiotic yogurt. Yes, yogurt. Here the full set of ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon plain organic yogurt (full fat preferred with live bacteria)
- 1 capsule of probiotics (for an extra boost of healthy bacteria)
- For dry skin: 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
- For oily skin: 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
And here’s how to put together your new treatment:
- In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and any other optional ingredients you are using (such as olive oil or turmeric).
- Gently apply the mixture onto your face in small circulation motions.
- Leave the mask on for 10 to 30 minutes. Leaving it on for 10 minutes will be more moisturizing and 30 minutes will be more deep cleansing.
- Wash off the yogurt mask with warm water and gently pat dry.
Use this roughly every week or so to start seeing results. Don’t forget to combine your probiotic skin treatments with supplements in order to see additional benefits.