One of the hottest health topics right now is your gut microbiome.
A quick Google search yields millions of hits. Amazon sells hundreds of books on the subject.
But now it’s time to pay attention to your body’s biggest microbiome — your skin.
Your skin microbiome can protect against harmful bacteria, pollution and free radicals, all of which can accelerate aging.1
Probiotics have an anti-inflammatory effect, and can also act as antibacterials. Topically, they can even be used as a natural exfoliant.
They also promote the healing of scars and burns, rejuvenate the skin and strengthen your skin’s immunity.
When taken orally, probiotics can even treat dandruff. A study conducted in Hungary showed that patients enjoyed noticeable improvement in scalp redness, flaking and itching when they took Lactobacillus paracasei daily.2
Another probiotic from the same family, Lactobacillus plantarum is effective at treating acne.3
I recommend probiotics to my patients who ask for natural ways to repair their aging skin and protect against further damage.
Probiotics can protect your skin against photoaging… That’s the damage done by excess UV radiation from sunlight that can make you look older than your years.
Researchers recently tested the effect of taking oral Bifidobacterium breve before exposure to UVB radiation. The probiotic significantly improved skin hydration and lessened skin thickening.4
Clinical evidence shows that Lactobacillus plantarum increases skin hydration, reduces facial wrinkles and improves skin elasticity and glow.
After just 12 weeks of taking the probiotic, women showed significantly higher skin hydration and a significant reduction in wrinkle depth compared to a placebo.5
If you want to take a probiotic supplement, look for one that guarantees 10-20 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) at the expiration date. Probiotics are very sensitive to heat, humidity, pH levels and oxygen. Between the time of packaging and the time you take them, billions of the bacteria may die off.
But a much better way to get enough probiotics is from the foods you eat. I recommend kefir, sauerkraut, kvass and kimchi. But avoid canned or packaged versions. The processing kills good bacteria.
3 More Ways to Balance Your Skin’s Microbiome
A nourishing yogurt mask makes your skin feel refreshed.
- Get dirty. We’re way too clean today, and it’s harming your health. Our ancestors worked and lived outside, coming into contact with dirt and soil every day. Now we work indoors and eat irradiated food. To help balance your skin’s microbiome, spend some time outdoors. Consider gardening or just pull some weeds… but don’t be afraid of the dirt.
- Avoid antibacterial soaps. Look for natural soap and shampoo alternatives like castile soap. Castile soap is a blend of olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil or any other commonly used vegetable oil. Castile soap can be made as either a hard bar soap or a liquid soap. It’s versatile and can replace many of your chemical-laden household detergent cleaners.
- Treat your skin to a yogurt mask. Live-culture yogurt contains zinc and lactic acid (a natural hydroxyl acid) that are great for your skin, and the “good” fats in yogurt help to nourish skin.
Here’s a recipe a lot of my patients like:
Probiotic Yogurt Mask
- 1 Tbsp. plain, organic, live-culture yogurt
- 1/2 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Using your fingers, slather the mixture over your freshly washed and dried face.
- Work into your skin in a gentle circular motion. Allow to dry, about 10 minutes.
- Rinse with cool water and pat dry.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Gueniche A, 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;20(6):731-737.
2. Gueniche A, et al. “Oral supplementation with probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei ST-11 improves dandruff condition.” Int J Trichology. 2011;3(Suppl1): S22.
3. Muizzuddin N, et al. “Physiological effect of a probiotic on skin.” J Cosmet Sci. 2012;63(6):385-395.
4. Satoh T, et al. “Effect of Bifidobacterium breve B-3 on skin photoaging induced by chronic UV irradiation in mice.” Benef Microbes. 2015;6(4):497-504.
5. Lee DE, et al. “Clinical evidence of effects of Lactobacillus plantarum HY7714 on skin aging: A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study.” J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2015;25(12):2160-2168.