The growing wave of microbiome-friendly skincare (featuring prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare trend) might be a little too much to comprehend. It surely is taking over the skincare world like wildfire and making shocking but scientifically-backed revelations recently.
Most products out there are labelled as probiotics when in reality are actually pre & postbiotics. Yes, there’s a difference and yes, you must know about it. So, while the skincare industry is trying its best to reset its game; you, as consumers, must also be well aware of prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare research.
Well, to help you navigate this prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare world in simple understandable terms, we have prepared this blog. By the end of this, we will cover what these biotics are, their role in skin care, prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skin benefits, how frequently you should use them, etc…
So, let’s dive into the science-y realm of skincare
ABOUT THE MICROBIOME ON OUR SKIN
Millions of bacterial species; both good and bad; reside on our skin and in our gut. It encompasses a beautiful unique ecosystem which is referred to as skin flora or skin microbiome. These bacteria obviously have various tasks to perform that have an effect on our skin health. According to researchers, our skin’s microbiome is constantly in touch with our immune system.
They interact with the external stressors or any red flags that might indicate any future harm to our skin so that our immune system can be alarmed prior hand and fight back. These interactions are super important as they help repair our skin barrier and bolster our body’s defence system to fight away or reduce the damage.
So, you see bacteria are not entirely bad and all of us have our very own unique world of microflora. There are good bacteria which are super beneficial to our immune system and majorly for our skin. Our goal is to maintain the right balance between the good and the bad - & this is where biotic skincare comes in.
To give you an example, if your skin showcases early signs of ageing, inflammation, redness, acne, irritation, etc. know that your skin barrier is compromised. In simpler terms, the bad bacteria is exceeding the commensal (good) ones. One can say that this is the skin’s immune system and the more good bacteria live here, the more favourable our skin behaves. On the other hand, if the colonisation of pathogenic (bad) bacteria takes over, it will sadly be the opposite situation
Why are bacteria healthy?
Similar to our natural ecosystem, it is always the survival of the fittest bacteria. And to survive, they need plenty to eat.
So, either topical nourishment can be provided to them through a wide range of superfood-enriched skincare. These things ensure that healthy bacteria are retained and enough hydration levels are met to improve skin function in order to maintain your natural glow.
Therefore, prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare brands formulate products with deactivated bacteria called lysate or a postbiotic called a ferment. Live bacteria are very hard to formulate and keep stable in skincare products. So, in conclusion, certain bacteria are good for us
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s move ahead with the skincare terminologies… the pre-, pro- and postbiotics.
Unravelling THE HOLY TRINITY
Prebiotics are compunds that not only help feed good bacteria and also increase their presence. These are non-digestible food sources necessary for building a healthy microbiome.
Prebiotics are super useful and also support our gut health. A diet rich in fibre aids this.
WHAT IS PREBIOTICS IN SKINCARE?
Now you might be thinking that if probiotics are the good guys then who are prebiotics and why are they important? Also, why is prebiotic skincare gaining the buzz currently?! Read ahead to explore more.
Prebiotics are basically specialised plant fibres that are food for the good bacteria in your system. They are found in fruits and vegetables.
When our skin’s microbiome is compromised, its defences are down as well. Simultaneously, the hydrating mechanisms get less effective as well. The skin then feels tight, undernourished, and even dry; and is more prone to get infected by external stressors that cause inflammation and irritation.
But, with topical prebiotics, this balance can be restored and the good bacteria can be nourished.
Unlike Prebiotics, Probiotics are live bacteria which are also beneficial for both gut and skin health. Each time we consume probiotics, our gut is introduced with new good bacteria that further produce beneficial chemical compounds. These compounds are then used by the body in various ways.
For example, when one consumes yogurt, several bacteria like Lactobacillus and Streptococcus are introduced to the gut it helps our digestive system break down food and absorb nutrients. It also protects the system from other harmful microbes.
WHAT IS PROBIOTIC SKINCARE?
Probiotic skincare is primarily known to support and promote gut functioning with various benefits which include mental health as well as cardiovascular health. This is the main reason why everyone keeps on following healthy diets and doctors keep focusing on us having a balanced meal that includes fermented foods like yoghurt, kimchi or kombucha.
Now, one cannot always apply live bacteria to the skin through skincare products. Some bacteria are used by prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare brands to preserve the products from going bad by stopping the growth of bad bacteria in the skincare itself.
These are the byproducts of bacteria that further provide support to your immune system in general. Postbiotics are compounds that are released by the bacteria and absorbed by your skin or gut.
WHAT IS POSTBIOTIC SKINCARE?
Postbiotic skincare products essentially contain natural byproducts of the good bacteria that are quite beneficial for the skin. Some of the postbiotic skincare ingredients to name are enzymes, peptides, antioxidants, lactic acid and glycerol etc.
To summarise the prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare research:
- Prebiotics are non-harmful non-digestible compounds that serve as food for good bacteria.
- Probiotics are live, digestible, good bacteria.
- Postbiotics are the byproducts of bacteria.
Note that, even applying a simple moisturizer every single day, helps protect and nurture the bacteria living on your skin. So before throwing away your beauty products, understand what actually prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare products do for your skin and why they are important.Just like our gut, the skin’s health is also dependent on the right balance of good and bad bacteria. Several prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare research studies have proved that the right biotics increase the production of good bacteria, along with -
- Reducing inflammation
- Balancing your skin pH
- Reducing redness
- Strengthening skin barrier
Who should use microbiome based skincare products?
Before even opting for prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare ingredients, first, you must suspect what your skin worries are and whether your skin barrier is damaged.
How to test it? Well, look for basic signs such as -
- Skin Congestion
- Stubborn sun tan
- Early signs of ageing, etc.
You also need to determine your skin type along with the above concerns because it’s very important too for establishing further courses of treatment. Always use skincare in tandem with your skin type.
You can opt for a medical consultation with a dermatologist if you are unsure about this.
How do prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare ingredients feel on your skin?
They generally have a very calming effect on your skin and your skin usually feels a soothing effect with every application.
How frequently does one need to use prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare products to see results?
Topical biotics are a great thing to include in your daily skincare routine. They have zero to very less side effects and generally suit every skin type. But it is advised to consult your dermatologist before starting with any new product.
Speaking of how frequently you must use them, well, for example, if you are considering prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic skincare for acne, then you might have to use it until your acne clears up. Post that, you can switch things up by using products that help you prevent acne.
So, if you want to enjoy the microbiome based skin benefits, judge your skin wisely.