Probiotic beauty products: What’s behind the hype?

Feb 18, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Image: Fabrice LEROUGE/ONOKY/Getty Images Plus

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.”

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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

Tula Hydrating Day & Night Cream
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

Bioelements Probiotic Anti-Aging Serum
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

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

Eminence Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer
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

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Revitalize & Glow Serum
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

mybody Glow Forward Thermal Probiotic Enzyme Treatment
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

Epicuren Acidophilus Probiotic Facial Cream
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

Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic Kampuku Beauty Soap
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

RenewLife Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic 50 Billion
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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