The topic of probiotics is a fascinating one for me. Why? Because the relationship between your gut health and skin health has been known to traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, yet it is only recently that scientists in the Western community are discovering the correlation between the two. At first, it may seem a little counterintuitive. At least, that was my first reaction. When I told my aunt that I started developing eczema, her first response was “Ahh, so you’re not taking good care of your stomach.” “Huh?” I said bewildered. At the time, I brushed it off, thinking that it was one of those Chinese beliefs that really made no scientific sense. However, in recent years, scientists are beginning to acknowledge the similarities between the gut epithelium and skin barrier. That was my aha! moment. And yes, this is precisely the reason why I keep emphasizing the importance of eating healthy as one of my best kept beauty secrets. You gotta trust me, Beauty Nerds, there is a method to my madness!
Here’s the basic premise. Both your gut and your skin need a healthy equilibrium of microflora. What does this mean? It means that you need to have a good proportion of “good bacteria” to fight off the “bad bacteria”. Any time the balance of the “good” vs. “bad” is thrown off, “bad” bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes (which can be found on the skin) takes over, causing… you guessed it – breakouts or acne!¹ Bliss launched their acne kit, No ‘Zit’ Sherlock*, based on this proposition, and attained great results. Subjects in a clinical trial reported 95% clearer skin in just 31 days!
Even if acne isn’t an issue for you, I bet many of you classify yourself as having sensitive skin. Skin sensitivities have markedly increased in the last few decades, especially in industrialized nations – I personally attribute it to rising pollution levels. Luckily, recent studies have been uncovering the benefits of probiotics and its ability to help with allergies, skin reactivity, skin sensitivities, or in my case, eczema! Eating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt or taking probiotic supplements may help lessen your susceptibility to skin allergens. Although, we still do not fully understand the mechanism by which gut health affects the skin, it is believed (or at least stated by L’Oréal’s project director, Audrey Gueniche) that probiotics in the gut causes the release of certain immune mediators which has a positive effect in counteracting skin sensitivities.²
The increased interest in probiotics has incentivized numerous beauty companies to launch products in this category. Below are some of these products. * Note that not all products are readily available in North America.
1. Clinique & Allergan’s Probiotic Cleanser 2. La Neíge Strawberry Yogurt Pack 3. Amala Yogurt Mask 4. Skin Food Papaya Yogurt Mask 5. NUDE Advanced Probiotic Skincare
Cosmetic giant, L’Oréal, who always seems to be at the forefront of the latest technologies have already dedicated 7 years into the research of probiotics. The result? Developed in partnership with Nestlé, they launched a probiotic supplement, under the Innéov range, called Solaire Intégral, targeted at “strengthening the natural defense of the skin against UV radiation.” It sells for $49.00 which will give you a 30 day supply. Innéov is only available in 16 EU countries, Brazil and Mexico. However, if you do not reside in any of those areas, you can check out e-tailers like Beauty Platinum which carries the full range.
How else can you stimulate the growth of your body’s “good” bacteria? You may have heard of something called prebiotics. Essentially, prebiotics are food for the “good” bacteria. The idea is to feed the good bacteria, making it healthy and robust, so that it can reliably ward off pimple-causing bacteria. The most common source of prebiotic comes from the soluble dietary fibre, inulin. Vegetables high in inulin include asparagus, garlic, leek, onion and artichoke.
In the cosmetic industry, we call this category of ingestible beauty “beauty from within.” People are increasingly recognizing the need to address skin health from the inside out. Whether you want to purchase probiotic-based skin care or make just your own (see ‘The Daily Green’ for the recipe), don’t forget to also add probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kimchi and miso to your daily diet. Check out this site: ‘The conscious life’ for a more in-depth explanation of various probiotic foods. Remember to feed the “good” bacteria with foods high in prebiotics as well! And yes, we all deserve a treat now and then – that’s when a dose of Pinkberry frozen yogurt comes in handy :)!
Hope you learned a little from this health & beauty tip of the day… now I’m off to get myself a yogurt… Strawberry Activia – yumm!
- ¹Reid et al. Microbiota restoration: natural and supplemented recovery of human microbial communities. Nat Rev Microbiol (2011) vol. 9 (1) pp. 27-38
- ²Gueniche et al. Lactobacillus paracasei CNCM I-2116 (ST11) inhibits substance P-induced skin inflammation and accelerates skin barrier function recovery in vitro. Eur J Dermatol (2010) vol. 20 (6) pp. 731-7
- *I have worked on the development of this product during my employment at Bliss. Please note that I am not compensated by the company in any way to review the product. As always, my reviews reflect only my true and honest opinions. For more information, please take a look at the full disclaimer.