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Should You Start Putting Probiotics On Your Skin?

Lately, it seems like probiotics are everywhere; in your food, your supplements, and now, your skin-care. So what’s the deal with bacteria-packed beauty products? Here’s the deal on the new probiotic skin-care trend.

Why Probiotics Are So Great In The First Place

Probiotics are live microorganisms found in the body that we associate with good health. “Our body needs certain microorganisms to break down certain foods, process certain minerals, and stimulate the immune system,” explains Snehal Amin, M.D., F.A.C.M.S., Surgical Director of MDCS Dermatology and professor at Weill Cornell Hospital.

Probiotics And Your Skin

Given the key role of probiotics within our bodies, it’s no surprise that the conversation has shifted to the outside of our bodies, too. In fact, according to Amin, an imbalance of bacteria and yeast on our skin has been shown to cause rashes.

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and it interfaces with the outside world. It is not just a protective layer,” Amin says. “Our skin houses and supports parts of our nervous system and immune system—and within the layers of the skin exist bacteria, fungi, and even parasitic organisms that are beneficial to us.”

Issue is, “although we know about the various organisms that live on our skin, we don’t quite yet understand the function or importance of many of them,” Amin says. One example: “We know that too much candida yeast is bad but a little seems to be good.”

What we do know: Disruption of these types of microorganisms (which occurs when we use harsh products like hand sanitizer) can significantly influence the balance within our skin and even impact some of its immune function.

According to Amin, this disruption can trigger skin issues like eczema, redness, scaling, and itchiness.

Protecting Your Skin’s Microbiome

Though dermatologists often write prescriptions to treat skin symptoms, Amin suggests that you can prevent (or ease) them by protecting your skin’s natural microbiome.

Turns out, supporting your skin’s good-for-you bacteria is easier than you think. It all starts with moisturizer. “Adding a protective lipid layer with a simple moisturizer will restore the natural microflora of the skin,” Amin says. So, yeah, that post-shower lotion is definitely worth the extra minute or two of your time.

Read More: The Best Skin-Care Supplements For Women Over 50

Beyond traditional moisturizer, probiotic cleansers and creams can work double duty by restoring your skin’s natural barriers and helping its flora recover, says Amin. These days, you can choose from a wide variety of probiotic skin-care products to add to your routine. (A few you’ll find at The Vitamin Shoppe: Andalou Naturals’ Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk, Derma E Vitamin C Intense Night Cream with Probiotics, and Shea Moisture Matcha Green Tea & Probiotic Soothing Toner & Hydrating Mist.)

Finding Quality Probiotic Skin-Care

When hunting for probiotic skin-care, “look for products that contain strains like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Vitreoscilla,” recommends Amin.

On the flip side, you want to avoid preservatives like benzoyl alcohol and benzoic acid. “These essentially kill the good bacteria,” Amin says. (Note that other preservatives, like tocopherol and propelyne glycol, are not harmful for the skin microbiome.)

When possible, Amin recommends using probiotic skin-care products that have a neutral pH, which means they don’t contain a lot of acids. These gentle products won’t sting, tingle, or burn.

Once you’ve found yourself a quality probiotic cleanser or cream, go easy when cleansing. Aggressively scrubbing just traumatizes your skin, so, here too, gentle is best.

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