A beauty revolution: what is probiotic skincare and how does it work?

Probiotics are known for their health benefits when it comes to the gut, but did you know they may also improve the state of your skin? Beauty journalist Ateh Jewel gets skintellectual

by: Ateh Jewel, for The Guardian

You may already be an advocate for the benefits of probiotics when it comes to gut health. Perhaps you reach for natural yoghurt to power up at breakfast, or look to probiotic supplements when taking a course of antibiotics. What you might not know, however, is that probiotics can also be used in your skincare regime. But what exactly are probiotic creams and serums? Well, serums are products that you apply after cleansing, but before moisturising, that contain a higher concentration of active ingredients, and are typically used to penetrate the skin to target specific concerns. Prebiotic and probiotic extracts within skincare work to help improve skin barrier recovery and to help skin look healthier and younger. Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique Serum, for instance, does just this. It’s enriched with seven prebiotic and probiotic-derived extracts, which work in optimal affinity with skin for a radiant, healthy complexion.

Probiotics have been clinically proven by Lancôme’s research to help with the major signs of ageing and to improve the skin’s radiance, fine lines, skin smoothness and even to restore the skin’s firmness. The skin’s health and its ability to have a strong barrier is down to the skin’s microbiome, an invisible but beneficial living ecosystem of microorganisms.

Just like the environment we live in, our skin’s microbiome needs to be protected and in balance in order for skin to look its best. The skin microbiome is the collection of diverse microorganisms that colonise its surface, and which have three key roles to play. The first is to protect the skin by reinforcing its defences. The second is to regulate the skin. The third is to help enhance the skin barrier and allow the skin to recover from aggressors.

Research has shown that the skin and the microbiome can be compromised by aggressors such as stress, UV damage, a poor diet, medications, hormonal changes, pollution, and also overstripping the skin and changing its pH balance with harsh cleansers.

This is where probiotics step up to help support the microbiome and skin. Probiotics are the live microorganisms that help to provide overall benefits to us. By the time we reach adulthood our skin microbiome contains up to 1,000 species of bacteria. The most common of all are Cutibacterium, Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium which, among other benefits, help repair the skin and maintain healthy acidic pH levels.

Take note, not all prebiotics and probiotics are the same. Some may be a single strain of a bacterium, while others contain multiple strains. The effectiveness of probiotics lies within the different strains of bacteria, the concentration, and the way they are obtained through biotech processes.

Scientific studies back the fact that bacteria can play an important role in promoting skin health. A balanced microbiome definitely helps when it comes to glowing, healthy skin. So, slather on some probiotics-infused skincare to help the skin’s barrier recover for healthier, more radiant skin.


Inspired by microbiome science

Advanced Génifique Serum is enriched with a complex of seven prebiotic and probiotic-derived extracts that work in optimal affinity with skin.

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*This article was originally published on theguardian.com as part of the Lancôme Génifique and Guardian Labs 'Skincare gets gutsy' campaign.