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Probiotic Skin Care: Is Bacteria The Next Big Skincare Ingredient?

Probiotic Skincare Bacteria

Time to open up the refrigerator – new research shows consumers are hungry for skincare products that incorporate the most natural ingredient of all, their food.

While creating product formulations with natural, food ingredients or extractions is not new, recent consumer clamoring for these products have reached an all-time high, thanks to the precipitous rise of clean beauty this year. And one of the ingredients consumers are most interested in for their next skincare product purchase?

Probiotics, or the healthful bacteria found in many kinds of fermented food products.

In fact, a recent Mintel study found that “41% of skin care users are interested in products comprising apple cider vinegar, while 38% of female skin care consumers are reportedly curious about probiotic products,” according to GCI Magazine.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are the healthful strains of bacteria that are found naturally in a wide variety of food sources, and also occur naturally on the skin and within the body.  

Probiotics are typically found in fermented food products like yogurt, raw cheese, kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, and kimchi or through ingestible supplements and vitamins. Typically, probiotic food sources contain millions of strains of helpful bacteria, but the most popular and well-documented are lactobacillus (lactic acid) and Bifidobacterium.

Probiotics are credited with maintaining a healthy, balanced gut system and promoting a strong immune system. And while the benefits of consuming probiotics for overall health and vitality is well-publicized, recent research has found that topical application of probiotics to the skin, can improve skin texture, tone, and soothe a variety of skincare issues.

Topical application of probiotics to the skin can improve skin texture, tone, and soothe a variety of skincare issues.

Probiotics and acne treatments

One of the most exciting applications of topically applied probiotics in skincare items is the ability of probiotics to help prevent acne breakouts and reduce the occurrence of angrier blemishes.

A study by The American Academy of Dermatology recently discovered that probiotics can have a calming effect on the skin and prevent the immune system from attacking other beneficial microorganisms and bacteria.

For sufferers with acne, the living microorganisms on the skin are recognized as foreign and then attacked by the immune system, resulting in the bumps, discoloration, and breakouts that create acne of all stripes. However, topical application of probiotics to the skin of those suffering with acne has shown to calm the parts of the cells that may want to react to the presence of bad bacteria that they see as a threat. These healthy signals produced by the probiotics stop the skin cells from sending “attack” messages to the immune system that result in flares of acne,” according to the The American Academy of Dermatology.

Rosacea and anti-inflammation

Additionally, probiotics have been found to improve rosacea, a skin condition marked by skin redness and a tendency for blushing or flushing that spreads beyond the nose and cheeks to the forehead, ears, chest, and back.  Rosacea is easily denoted by this persistently red skin, uncommon amounts of flushing, and visible blood vessels.

While research has found several causes behind rosacea, new science shows that topical application of probiotics could actually help alleviate the symptoms of this skin condition that afflicts over 14 million people over time.

Just like with acne, rosacea occurs when the naturally occurring microorganisms on the skin are attacked by the body’s immune system. The skin redness and visible blood vessels are then the unfortunate physical side effect of the body’s attempts to fight off this “foreign” bacteria.

However, new research has found that probiotics applied to the skin can actually help prevent the body from recognizing the bacteria on the skin’s surface as “bad,” and thus circumvent the entire triggering cycle that creates rosacea symptoms.

This positive “bacterial interference” of skincare formulations featuring probiotics could spell big-time relief for rosacea sufferers in coming years.

The future of probiotic skincare

Consumers are being drawn to probiotic skincare items thanks to the rise of the natural and clean beauty movement, and their desire to use personal care products free of synthetic ingredients.

With the potential of probiotics to improve common skin conditions like acne and rosacea, new skincare formulations like masks, serums, and lotions have the opportunity to benefit the skin health and appearance for consumers everywhere.

As the green, clean, and natural skincare and personal care movements unstoppably propel forward into the next year, the consumer desire for harnessing the power of naturally beneficial ingredients like probiotics in their skincare products will run strong, steady, and be powered by the latest skincare ingredient with huge potential impact, especially when you consider its size – bacteria.

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