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Just when you think you’ve finally got the hang of the latest beauty trends, probiotic skincare comes along and shakes things up.
Probiotic skincare claims to work along the same principle as boosting gut health, using formulas with added probiotics to support the skin microbiome. In recent years there have been schools of thought in the skincare world that a balanced microbiome may help reduce eczema, acne, dry skin and even help to tackle fine lines and wrinkles.
Cue brands like Caprea, which are using this thinking to create probiotic skincare in an effort to help support a healthy skin microbiome. Caprea is just one of the brands embracing the trend – probiotic skincare has really taken off over the last few years, with even big names brands like Dior and Lancôme releasing their own lines.
And, according to tests conducted on 100 participants, it’s working, with 55% of those who used Caprea’s £24.90 Probiotic Sleeping Mask saying it reduced inflammation while 65% claimed they noticed a reduction in acne.
But while keeping on top of new ingredients can feel overwhelming, it’s worth educating yourself about what could work for your skin’s needs – the right ingredients can make all the difference.
What is probiotic skincare?
Forget an apple, nowadays it’s a yoghurt a day that keeps the doctor away. And while it’s a little more complicated than that in reality, there is some truth in the statement. The good bacteria in yoghurts help keep our GI tract healthy and top up our gut bacteria to sustain a healthy gut microbiome, which influences how our bodies function.
As well as the gut, the skin also has a microbiome that supports the skin’s barrier by preventing harmful bacteria from entering.
‘Our skin plays host to one million microorganisms from 100 distinct species per square centimetre,’ Dr Ginni Mansberg, founder of ESK skincare, tells us. ‘Together, these bacteria, viruses, fungi and mites are called the skin microbiome.’
When balanced, the microbiome keeps our skin healthy. But when it’s not, the thinking is that we can develop skin sensitivity, acne and other inflammatory conditions like rosacea and psoriasis.
To get technical, Dr Mansberg explains: ‘We know that – of the many types of identified microorganisms in the skin, people with acne have a higher concentration of Cutibacterium acnes bacteria, while people with psoriasis have lower levels of some bacteria like Cutibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria than normal, and have elevated levels of other bacteria, including Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Schlegelella and a bunch of other bacteria that are near impossible to pronounce.
‘Eczema skin has higher levels of Staphylococcus aureus and also a reduced diversity in the overall skin microbiome and rosacea sufferers have a higher prevalence of the Demodex folliculorum mite and Staphylococcus epidermidis.’
While the names of these bacteria might be a bit of a mouthful, the bottom line is that a balanced skin microbe = less chance of skin issues, in theory.
These are just some examples of how the skin can be affected when the microbiome is out of balance – and there have been medical studies to back this up. According to 2021 research, a lack of diversity between the six subtypes of Cutibacterium acnes can trigger acne.
Probiotic skincare is one way to try and tackle an imbalanced skin microbiome and some in the business think there is some credibility to the buzz.
Rob Calcraft, who founded popular luxury brand REN (but is no longer with the company) as well as newer brand Cultured, previously told Metro.co.uk: ‘The gut microbiome is now well established as an idea in health and medicine, and the skin microbiome is now also increasingly being covered in books, articles, on TV and by the cosmetics industry.
‘The reason is because of the above, it’s a scientific revolution that has huge potential for treating skin problems such as acne, rosacea, dermatitis, eczema as well as improving everyone’s skin health and appearance on a daily basis.’
While Dr Marie Drago, founder of Gallinée, explained ‘caring for your skin microbiome will both strengthen your skin barrier and reduce inflammation’.
Dr Drago added: ‘It means that if you add pre and postbiotics in sufficient quantities, you can really reduce skin sensitivity and also help with bacterial conditions such as acne (caused by C. acnes) and eczema (caused by S. aureus).
‘It goes a little bit out of the beauty world and into dermatology, but it’s a massive shift on how we treat these diseases.’
But while this certainly makes sense, the concept of probiotic skincare is still relatively new, with more research needed into the outcomes, according to Dr Mansberg.
‘Adding probiotics to skincare is being studied now,’ Dr Mansberg continues. ‘The hope is that they can reduce the prevalence of some harmful microorganisms, increase the diversity of the skin microbiome even possibly help reduce some of the signs of ageing skin.
‘And while the promise is real, the evidence is just not there yet. Most of the trials to date have been conducted in Petri dishes, or sponsored by companies (which tend to be very positive so are not considered ‘evidence’ by doctors and scientists) or have not been validated in repeat trials.’
First appear at Acne sufferers are finding relief with this £25 ‘probiotic skincare’ cream as microbiome beauty buzz grows