consumer benefits, thus proving that yogurt is surely an effective beauty boost.
In health food stores, we find probiotic-based personal care products such as
soaps and lotions. British skin care company Nude was the first to develop and
launch a whole line of skin care around
friendly bacteria. Clinique, Lancôme,
Burt’s Bees, Bioelements Chatecaille,
Amala and Revive are just a few of the
brands injecting probiotics into anti-aging
serums and moisturizers in the belief that
they help soothe and plump skin and can
even turn back the clock.
Clinique’s Probiotic Anti-Aging Serum
contains lactobacillus bifidus cultures encased in soy and milk proteins to help
ward off wrinkles and irritation by keeping the skin’s bacterial balance in check.
Clinique holds a patent on lactobacillus in
cosmetics. Its Redness Solutions Makeup
SPF15 helps alleviate mild and moderate
rosacea while concealing facial flush.
Burt’s Bees’ intense hydration cream
cleanser is also formulated with probiotics, which are said to boost skin’s protective bacterial layer.
L’Oréal Paris Youth Code Serum
Intense delivers Biolysat, a concentrated
probiotic, with other ingredients that improves barrier function while prompting
skin cells to behave like younger versions
Amala Rejuvenating Face Cream encourages the growth of good bacteria with
pH-normalizing lactic acid, while silver
sulfite fights the bad bugs.
The Doctors’ Opinions
There is no unanimous agreement among
dermatologists regarding topical anti-aging benefits of probiotics. Richard Gallo,
MD, chief of the division of dermatology
at the University of California, San Diego,
notes that beneficial bugs live in our bodies and help fight off myriad diseases,
making them extremely important to us.
So why is there difficulty accepting that
perhaps the bacteria living on skin are also
beneficial to us?
We have good and bad bacteria on our
skin, just as they are in our gut, according to Ellen Marmur, MD, an associate
professor of dermatology and genetics at
the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in
New York City.
“If the balance is off-kilter, it can result
in acne or rosacea,”explained Dr. Marmur.
“The right bacteria may also keep skin
Nick Lowe, a consultant and derma-
tologist, agrees that probiotics have appli-
cations in skin care, but more research is
“There is a lot of hope and hype with
probiotics. There is some evidence, pro-
biotics help with eczema and acne, the
research is not there yet to prove, it can
be anti-aging,” said Lowe. “People should
understand that normal healthy skin has
its own very good system for managing
bacteria. As far as turning back the clock,
we will have to wait and see.”
Scientists at the 2007 World Congress
of Dermatology produced data showing
that probiotics help your body build a
better barrier for the skin and gut. Leslie
Baumann, MD, a dermatologist, recog-
nizes the potential of helpful bacteria to
treat skin disorders. However, the bacteria
in your colon are not the same as those on
your skin, so you can’t make the leap that
if probiotics work internally they are going
to work topically.
According to a study published in a recent
issue of the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic
Chemists (Nov-Dec 2012; 63( 6):385-95),
certain types of probiotics are good for
the skin. Researchers drew the conclusion
that probiotics can really work if you use
enough of the right kind. The bad news is
that yogurt won’t have the same effect because it contains lactobacillus casei a different kind of probiotic. If you want to get the
right kind (lactobacillus plantarum) from
natural food products, you would have to
rub sauerkraut, pickles, brined olives, or
sourdough on your face.
According to Natural Solutions (Jul.
2008, issue 109, p. 89), probiotics can clear
up one’s complexion. Authors concluded
that when the good bacteria enter the
body, they strengthen the skin’s acid mantle and protects the outermost layer of the
Evidence suggests that probiotics have applications in acne treatments.
skin from pathogens and free radicals.
Basic Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) guidelines for probiotic use suggest less than 1000 CFU except for eye
area products, where the suggested limit
is less than 500 CFU. It is estimated that
most cosmetic use for probiotics is around
More Research Is Needed
Research is emerging to explain how probiotics interact with skin as well as which
strains are most beneficial and whether
topical or oral preparations work best.
We do not know how many microorganisms that naturally reside on the skin are
friendly and beneficial and combat the
inflammation that causes premature aging and wrinkling, just as they reduce gut
There will always be a market for anti-aging products with bioactive natural actives. Their popularity is due, in part, to
consumer perception that natural ingredients are well suited for soothing problem skin. Consumers believe that harsh,
chemically-derived products are strictly
verboten for anyone with irritated skin.
These consumers reason that these chemicals disrupt skin’s healthy eco-balance of
the skin, strip and irritate it.•