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Probiotic beauty products: What’s behind the hype?

Christina Kallery is a beauty writer living in Detroit. She has red hair, a British Shorthair named Freddie and an intimidating collection of products.

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try

You’ve probably taken probiotics — the good bacteria and yeasts that your body needs to stay in balance — to boost internal health. But a growing number of topical products are incorporating these helpful bugs into their formulas, claiming they boost skin beauty too. But are these claims just marketing fluff or are there real benefits to be had? 

We consulted dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf to get an expert take on the probiotic trend. Our first question was a little obvious — how can topically applied probiotics actually help skin? “Probiotics are protective microflora that protect our skin from the [harmful] bacteria and other microflora present in the environment,” Graf explained. “As we age and our moisture barrier is compromised, so is our ability for our skin’s microflora to work.”

More: A DIY banana face mask your skin will love you for

So the thinking is that topical products can help replace the naturally occurring good microflora that you may have lost due to age, over-stripping skin or other environmental causes — and, as a result, address all the problems caused by this imbalance, like acne, sensitivity and cell-aging inflammation.

Lately, probiotics have found their way into all sorts of products, from cleansers to night creams. Graf prefers serums and moisturizers because they stay put on the skin.  “One of the popular strains that work well on the skin are extracts from yogurt,” she adds. As a side note, you can DIY your own probiotic face mask using yogurt.

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Although the arguments for topical probiotics are solid, Graf recommends taking them internally as well. “Gut probiotics are our first line of defense, since the probiotics destroy and detoxify any potentially toxic substances before they are absorbed into the body and eventually the skin.” So, in other words, arm yourself with a good supplement too.

Try these:

1. Tula Hydrating Day & Night Cream

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try
Image: Tula

The entire Tula line incorporates probiotics, but this versatile gem works for both day and night and is infused with other natural extracts, like watermelon, lentil and avocado oil. (Tula, $52)

2. Bioelements Probiotic Anti-Aging Serum

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try
Image: DermStore

This overnight serum is purported to boost collagen and elastin production, while leaving skin smooth and supple come morning. (DermStore, $68)

3. Skinn Neck Amour Rich Protein & Probiotic Leave-On Neck Mask

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try
Image: Skinn

Exotic white truffle and French black currant bud extracts combine with a probiotic blend to help nourish delicate neck skin while you sleep. (Skinn, $35)

4. Éminence Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try
Image: DermStore

Acne sufferers will love this ultra-light moisturizer that combines probiotics with cucumber, salicylic acid and tea tree to sooth, exfoliate and reduce inflammation. Meanwhile, shea butter keeps skin hydrated. (DermStore, $58)

5. Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Revitalise & Glow Serum

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try
Image: Net-a-Porter

This lightweight serum combines probiotics with anti-aging peptides, along with vitamin E and baobab (which is rich in omegas). We also love its delicate scent — a combo of jasmine, plumeria , tuberose and mandarin.(Net-a-Porter, $84)

6. mybody Glow Forward Thermal Probiotic Enzyme Treatment

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try
Image: DermStore

This two-piece set includes a probiotic oxygen activator to prep skin and a probiotic enzyme mask to exfoliate and boost regeneration. (DermStore, $85)

7. Epicuren Acidophilus Probiotic Facial Cream

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try
Image: Epicuren

This rich cream combines lactobacilli acidophilus with micronized silver (which is said to ward off acne-causing bacteria). Hyaluronic acid, aloe, shea butter, plus macadamia nut and sunflower seed oils leave skin soft, soothed and hydrated. (Epicuren, $87)

8. Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic Kampuku Beauty Bar

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try
Image: Vitamin Shoppe

This chemical-free probiotic soap seemingly does it all: gently deodorizes, clears the complexion, works for both dry and oily skin and can be used all over the body. (Vitamin Shoppe, $10)

9. RenewLife Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic 50 Billion

Why probiotic beauty products work, plus a roundup of the best ones to try
Image: RenewLife

Each capsule contains 10 probiotic strains to boost digestive health and overall immunity — very good things for your entire body, including skin. (RenewLife, $20)

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