Probiotics In Skincare: What Are They And How Do They Work?

Probiotics have come a long way since the yoghurt drink ads of the early 00s.

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We're all aware of the benefits of taking probiotics, whether in food or supplement form, for the optimum health of our guts but, in recent years, they've been given something of an identity overhaul.

Right now, a new breed of probiotics are taking centre stage.

Step forward an arsenal of topical beauty products like cleansers, moisturisers and serums, packed with the friendly bacteria that promise to soothe inflammation, strengthen the skin's barrier and even diminish acne.

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Sounds legit, right?

But is it really worth incorporating probiotics into your ever-expanding skin regime already packed with the likes of hyaluronic acid, retinol and a multitude of vitamins to name but a few?

ELLE thinks so. Here's why probiotic skincare is the key to to keeping your skin in good health...

What Exactly Are Probiotics?

- In General

Probiotics are live bacteria (the good kind) and yeasts which hold key benefits for the overall health of our digestive system. Found in yoghurts and supplements, they have the ability to block pathogens and balance bacteria in the gut to fight off bloating, stomach cramps and other issues.

- In Skincare

'The proper definition of probiotics is "micro-organisms that can benefit its host"', says Marie Drago, founder of award winning probiotic skincare brand, Gallinée, 'but I just tend to call them good bacteria! In our products we use the lactobacillus type, which usually has been deactivated.'

But the best part is that there are so many other variations with the ability to benefit the skin.

'At Aurelia, we use a non-live probiotic from bifido bacteria in the form of a glycoprotein - a molecule which helps cell-to-cell communication,' explains founder Claire Vero. 'We then combine them with a milk peptide to protect and restore your skin from within.'

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How Do Probiotics Work And Why Are They So Good For The Skin?

Similar to how probiotics treat and prevent problems in the stomach, topical versions are known for their calming effects on the skin by harnessing a surge of good bacteria to help cells flourish.

Now for the science.

'The bacteria cell content interacts with receptors to modulate the immune response,' explains Marie, 'and this really helps soothe inflammation in the skin.'

'The natural bacterial ecosystem of our skin has a very important protective role,' Marie continues, 'and with our over-clean modern lifestyle, this ecosystem is often damaged and can result in dry, stressed, sensitive skin. Bringing probiotics and prebiotics into the equation can help rebuild this healthy skin ecosystem, giving you back the glowing skin you're supposed to have.'

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What Is The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

'Prebiotics are nutrients for the good bacteria (probiotics), and already live on your skin. They help support your own personal bacterial ecosystem, for the same, great results,' says Marie.

'At Gallinee, we incorporate both into our products. Together, they help support your own personal bacterial ecosystem and they are both extremely safe ingredients.'

Would I Benefit From Probiotic Skincare?

Yes, if:

- You Have Sensitive Skin:

Probiotics have the rather clever ability to rebuild and strengthen the skin's barrier. Sensitive skin may take a while to repair itself after damage but incorporating probiotics into your skincare regime helps speed up the process.

- You're A City Dweller

Free radicals such as pollution have the ability to accelerate ageing and to zap the skin of it's youthful radiance, but when applied topically, probiotics can boost the skin's natural defence.

'Probiotics calm the natural immune triggers in your skin which can be overstimulated by pollution and stress and they reduce the damage these immune triggers cause to collagen, elastin and healthy cells,' says Claire. Think of them as an apron against said environmental aggressors and whatever else we fling at our skin daily.

- You're Acne-Prone

Studies have found that products containing aforementioned lactobacillus (a type of bacteria usually found in yoghurt) was effective in treating acne - and this is something that Marie believes will totally change the way we tackle the common skin problem in the future.

'I predict that in the next few years, acne won't be treated with antibiotics but with probiotics,' says Marie. 'It makes so much more sense to feed the good guys and starve the bad ones (in this case, the acne bacteria), rather than to kill all types and hope for the best.'

Pretty interesting right? Check out our pick of the best probiotic beauty products available right now...

Gallinée La Culture Hand Cream, £11.90

This soothes chapped skin in just one hit. The best part? It won't leave greasy fingerprints all over your phone screen because it absorbs almost instantly.

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Vichy Slow Age Eye Cream, £25

Better than breakfast, Vichy's new Slow Age Eye Cream is powered by probiotics, which act like a shield against skin-ageing free radicals and caffeine to force puffiness and lines into submission.

Aurelia Miracle Cleanser, £38

Is there anything more satisfying than removing a day's worth of make-up with a luxurious and creamy cleanser? When massaged into the skin, this works to dissolve grease and grime from even the hard to reach areas (like around the nose) all while nourishing and strengthening the skin's barrier, making it more resilient to damage.

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betaMoisturise, £38

A team of prebiotics and probiotics in Medik8's beauty editor-approved moisturiser ensures the skin's bacteria levels are in balance, which minimises the acne-causing types. Hello, flawless face.

Elizabeth Arden Superstart Skin Renewal Booster, £45

Thanks to a powerhouse of skin-strengthening probiotics and moisture retaining sea fennel, this beauty journo favourite transforms a dull, lacklustre complexion. It primes the skin to absorb ingredients more efficiently, instantly souping up the effect of any other essentials you slather on top, such as moisturiser and eye cream.

Gallinée La Culture Body Milk, £27.90

The skin softening effects of Gallinee's body milk are unrivalled and it's all down to the brand's famous triple biotic complex of prebiotics, probiotics and exfoliant lactic acid. It feels like silk and absorbs in seconds, so you can pull on your clothes without getting stuck in them.

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Mama Mio Gorgeous Glow Balancing Facial Wash, £23

Lactic acid gently exfoliates the skin while a whole host of probiotics return it to its natural pH, making redness, oiliness and dry patches a thing of the past. It smells gorgeous and banishes that tight, uncomfortable feel that some water-based cleansers leave behind.

Aurelia Revitalise & Glow Serum, £57

One of the hardest working serums out there for repairing cells deep down and protecting against the ageing process - a dream team of probiotics, antioxidants and skin-plumping peptides shuttle their way to the deeper layers, making your skin glow from the inside out.

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