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The Important Role Probiotics Play for Aging Skin

Probiotic Skin Care
July 6, 2017 Reviewed by Marta 0 Comments

Most of us probably don’t think about the ecology of our skin. But as the beauty and healthcare industries come to embrace probiotics — the use of good bacteria for maintaining health and fighting disease — we will increasingly be encouraged to think of our skin as the host environment for hundreds of types of bacteria. Probiotic yogurt anyone? Yes, please. But live bacteria in our face cream? That’s the new idea.  

Probiotics started trending in skin care a couple of years ago when Clinique jumped on the bandwagon that was started by some pioneering indie companies. My gut reaction was that this would be a slow trend, at best, but probiotics are now starting to catch on more as there is growing evidence that they might be helpful in the anti-aging process.

The human microbiome is a vast army of microbes that we depend on for our very lives. The skin’s microbiome is hugely important since the skin is our largest organ, provides an important barrier and is self-renewing. Researchers are working hard to understand the healthy balance of the microbiome and what can be done with topical probiotics to assist this. The industry seems to agree that breakthrough clinical results demonstrating how good bacteria can help with skin issues such as acne and eczema are just on the horizon. When this happens, there will likely be more investment in topical probiotics and we’ll see new products emerging.

As far as anti-aging skin care is concerned, probiotics are in unchartered territory. Claims are made that they can boost the immune system, increase collagen production and improve the skin’s barrier functionality. I found a study that shows a specific strain of bacteria, streptococcus thermophiles, could increase ceramide levels and improve the skin barrier and its resistance to aging. Also encouraging is a recent study on mice using a bifidobacterium strain prior to UVB radiation. The probiotics significantly suppressed changes in transepidermal water loss, skin hydration and epidermal thickening. What’s more, a 2014 study found that probiotics may reduce the generation of free radicals.

One of the reasons why probiotics haven’t taken off is that they are very hard to formulate with. The most basic challenge is keeping live bacteria alive. Most skin care formulations need some kind of preservative to stop the ingredients from spoiling, and the job of a preservative is to kill bacteria. This makes formulating with live bacteria extremely tricky, so some formulators are looking at the potential of fermented ingredients.

Fermented ingredients include natural probiotic compounds such as yeast/bacteria fermentation starters, lactic acid ferments or fermented plant ingredients, and plant-sourced “prebiotics.” Bacterial cell lysates are also used in cosmetic formulations. Probiotic bacterial lysates include hyaluronic acid, sphingomyelinase, lipotechoic acid, peptidoglycan, lactic acid, acetic acid and diacetyl. Hyaluronic acid improves moisturization and barrier function, while sphingomyelinase upregulates ceramide production.

The advantage of plant ferments is that they also contain amino acids, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Gels containing yeast bacteria have demonstrated improved results for inflammation, scar formation and wound re-epithelialization. It is worth noting that BRAD Biophotonic Skincare products — which have long been favored amongst the TIA community — are based on plant ferments. 

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