Did you know that your skin is crawling with bugs? This may sound scary, but it’s true! But don’t worry, the good bacteria feeds our flora (and our flora makes us beautiful)!
Our skin supports a delicate ecosystem of microorganisms, including yeast and bacteria. We can’t see them, but they are there and they serve an important function. When most of us think of microorganisms we think of bad things, the bacteria living on our skin offer immunity and support skin health – they are good bugs! When we over-strip our skin by using harsh cleansers and chemical peeling agents, we can kill our good flora and allow bad bugs to move in. Over the past several years, research has begun to show that the application of topical probiotics can help keep the bad microbes in check and improve skin condition.
Probiotics do this in 3 ways:
- Act as a protective shield (protecting skin from redness and inflammation)
- Have antimicrobial properties (specific strains poke holes in bad bacteria and kill it)
- Offer calming of irritations (preventing threat reaction and signals that flare acne and rosacea)
Many progressive skin care lines are incorporating topical probiotics strains, like lactobacillus into their products in response to this compelling research. For those who want to harness the power of live bacteria to improve skin health with items found in their own homes, you can make a yogurt mask and apply it to the skin for 15 or 20 minutes. (Another home mask idea is to break open a probiotic dietary supplement capsule, mix with water, olive oil or your favorite lotion, and apply it to the face for 15 minutes.)
There’s an inside-out/outside-in story to be told here as well. Your gut is also lined with beneficial flora. These bacteria help to digest food, metabolize vitamins, and provide immune support. Many nutritionists believe that your gut health is reflected in the condition of your skin. When gut flora are out of balance many people experience rashes, allergies and overall skin inflammation.
Antibiotic use, stress, travel, and poor diet can disrupt the balance of the skin and gut bacteria and cause red, puffy skin, rashes, inflammation, and even acne and psoriasis. A proper diet, rich in pre- and pro- biotics can help maintain your healthy bacterial balance and in turn give you healthy skin. To clarify, the probiotic foods are the ones which contain the live bacteria. Prebiotics are foods rich in a certain type of fiber called FOS (Fructooligosaccharides) and these feed the bacteria.
Good food choices to include in your regular diet are:
- Yogurt (check label for live active cultures)
- Miso, tempeh and natto (fermented soy foods)
- Fortified foods like cottage cheese and/or other foods fortified with probiotics
- Probiotic supplements
- Prebiotic rich foods like asparagus, leeks, garlic and onions
Our understanding of the role of the bacteria that resides on and in our bodies is limited, but growing every day as scientists make new and exciting discoveries. It’s becoming more and more clear that we need to pay attention to, and nourish these bugs both internally and externally as a tool for improving our skin health.
Why not add a probiotic-enhanced skin care product in your daily skincare regimen to improve the texture and integrity of your skin. That, combined with a diet rich in probiotic and probiotic laden foods will help you to achieve a healthy glow!
Click here to read Ginger Hodulik Downey’s book The Esthetician’s Guide to Outstanding Esthetics.