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Beneficial Bacteria: Probiotic Skincare

by Kristin Vukovic

Amazing advances are being made in probiotic skincare, but not all probiotics are created equal.

Probiotic skincare products have been trending in recent years. When applied topically, these live bacterial cultures influence the composition of skin microflora. The American Academy of Dermatology has called probiotics one of the new beauty breakthroughs that can help promote clearer skin and decrease sensitivity, redness and inflammation.

The F.C. Sturtevant Company, America’s oldest family-owned skincare products company, founded in 1871, has been the frontrunner in many scientific product categories. It was the first to launch probiotic beauty products packing a scientific punch under its Columbia SkinCare brand.

“Development of our probiotic skincare products was intended initially to help severe burn patients,” says President Steven Rosenfeld. “We wanted to be able to restore their skin, the ability for it to be able to renew itself.” Its probiotic products contain good bacteria that potentiates with stem cells and amino acids, resulting in powerful bacteria—a good superbug—that stimulates skin renewal.

“We are the only company right now in the world that is using Lactococcus ferment lysate, which is proven to strengthen the epidermis,” Rosenfeld says. Using the products regularly replenishes and restores a greater thickness and elasticity to skin so it won’t be as susceptible to bruising and thinning. “These results would never be achieved by an ingestible probiotic,” he adds.

Research shows that bacteria, including lactobacillus acidophilus found in yogurt, are beneficial to the skin. The lactic acid in yogurt contains AHAs that help dissolve dead skin and tighten pores; this gentle exfoliation creates a natural glow, helps prevent breakouts and diminishes the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Yogurt has been used for centuries in spa treatments: The Javanese Lulur Body Treatment at Kabuki Springs & Spa, San Francisco, is a traditional Indonesian ritual created for royal brides-to-be, performed every day for 40 days before the wedding. The massage with jasmine frangipani scented oil uses skin-rolling and thumb-walking techniques. A rice powder and turmeric scrub gently exfoliates while enzymes in natural yogurt slough off dead skin cells.

New York City-based facialist Kristen Leigh uses the Éminence Clear Skin Collection—which includes a Probiotic Cleanser, Masque and Moisturizer—in her Quickly Clear facial. “I believe probiotics not only improve healthy flora in the skin, they also help to keep inflammation down and treat rosacea and are an excellent anti-aging ingredient,” she says. According to Leigh, inflammation leads to aging; probiotics help eliminate toxic buildup from environmental stressors and oxidative stress. “The more you keep that healthy bacteria, the better the skin looks,” she says.

Here are some topical probiotics we love.

Éminence Organic Skin Care Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser

Formulated with tea tree oil to treat oily and problem skin types, this clarifying cream-gel cleanser calms the skin, prevents blemishes and minimizes pores.

Columbia SkinCare Probiotic Complex

“There is real science behind these products,” says Rosenfeld. The concentrate (a serum) and complex (a cream) are powerful anti-aging tools to add to your arsenal: Plant stem cells and a proprietary group of peptides work with probiotics to stimulate the skin’s natural ability to renew itself. The result? Glowing skin with fewer fine lines and wrinkles. 

OSEA Vitamin C Probiotic Polish

This newly launched product smooths away impurities while imparting a powerful cocktail of vitamin C, antioxidants and sea minerals. Pomegranate enzymes and vegan Lactobacillus lactis work together with rice powders infused with a blend of organic seaweed to buff away dull skin and hydrate for a visibly brighter complexion. 

ilike Organic Skin Care Yogurt Power Peel

Lactic acid exfoliates to remove dead skin cell buildup for younger-looking skin while lemon oil brightens and helps diminish age spots, blemishes and hyperpigmentation. 

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Cell Repair Night Oil

Found in the seeds of the Kalahari melon, Kalahari oil provides fatty acids, while vitamin E-rich mongongo oil helps regenerate the epidermis. Kigelia oil firms and tones, and African baobab oil infuses skin with Omega-6 and 9 fatty acids, helping to hydrate skin and reduce water loss. 

Mother Dirt AO+ Mist

This live probiotic spray, which requires refrigeration, rebalances your skin by adding good bacteria that has been removed by our modern hygiene and lifestyles.

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