What does your skin have in common with your gut? 

The answer is a “microbiome” – a living system of bacteria plus fungi and viruses – that requires a balance for good overall health.  There are trillions of cells in the human body, and dermatologists say we live with about the same amount of microflora on our skin alone. 

But don’t go dunking your head in a bucket of Listerine.

Those microbes are the first line of defence in protecting our immune system. That’s right, our skin is like a medieval kingdom full of knights fighting off infection. And as its Queen, it is our duty to help where we can.

Recognising the need for optimal skin health to incorporate balancing the surface microbiome is a growing trend in skincare.  It might not sound as sexy, because who wants to think too much about their face being HQ for a battalion of bacteria and mites?

But for people who suffer from skin sensitivity or conditions like acne and rosacea, incorporating products that bring balance back to your largest organ could be a way to improve its tone, texture and protective barrier.

No doubt you’ve seen ads for probiotics – aka the good living bacteria – in supplements and foodstuffs like yoghurt and kombucha. These aim to restore the good bacteria when the microbiome is disrupted by things like stress, certain medications, and environmental factors. Prebiotics is the term for food sources for the microflora; for example, fruits, vegetables and grain. However, the other important term for skincare is postbiotics, or “non-live probiotics”. These are stable and safe for use in skincare, as the fermentation process gets rid of toxins and bad bacteria, leaving only your bacterial face warriors behind.

Skincare companies from around the world are incorporating pro and post biotics into products – let’s take a look at some of them.

Esmi Skin Minerals Probiotic Skin Mylck Cleanser

Inflammation, redness and pimples are a sign your skin could be experiencing distress as a result of an unstable skin barrier. It can be tempting to go in with harsh cleansers to get that squeaky clean feel, but cute-as-a-button Australian brand Esmi Skin Minerals has a better option. 

Its Probiotic Skin Mylck Cleanser contains probiotic Lysates – a highly concentrated dose of pure and stable probiotic cells – to clear away impurities without stripping the skin. Aloe Vera and Camilla leaf extract help protect and maintain the skin’s moisture balance, meaning a win-win for those with sensitive skin.

Trilogy Microbiome Complexion Renew Serum

New Zealand brand Trilogy was on the clean, natural and effective skincare bandwagon long before it hit the mainstream. Their famous Rosehip Oil sits happily in beauty cupboards both here and across the Tasman. 

The new Microbiome Complexion Renew Serum packs a whole bunch of new technology along with old favourites into what the company describes as an “ultimate modern base prep step for your skincare routine”.

ProRenew Complex CLR™ supports microbial diversity to encourage skin resiliency, while  KALIBIOME AGE – a stable, non-live biotic – reduces the appearance of redness. Not to be outdone, it contains antioxidants from fermented goji extract, white tea, and our fave, hyaluronic acid. The product has a lovely slip in application, and then dries down ready to protect your skin while you load up your other skincare and beauty products. 

Korres Hydra-Biome Greek Yoghurt Probiotic Superdose Face Mask

Of course it was Greek beauty brand Korres to put Greek yoghurt into skincare. They’ve incorporated the soothing ingredient into a range of products including a cleanser, a moisturiser and this gorgeous nourishing mask. Slather it on for 15 minutes to put a boost back into your skin’s natural protective layer. 

It’s formulated with a microbiome rebalancing technology to protect and relieve stress on the skin, as well as lactic acid to help dissolve deal skin cells. Just take us to Mykonos already. 

Innisfree Derma Green Tea Probiotics Cream

If there is cutting edge skincare, you know that Korean brands are all over it. Innisfree’s Derma Green Tea Probiotics Cream incorporates its own “Beauty Green Tea”, a moisturising ingredient developed after studying more than 2000 Korean green tea varieties. 

The active agent is lactobacillus ferment lysate to help repair the skin barrier, plus green tea ceramide rich in unsaturated fatty acids to shield the skin and keep in the moisture. This little helper will keep your skin calm no matter how stressful it is on the train to Busan.

Skyn Iceland Nordic Renewal Pre + Probiotic Cream

Iceland is one of the most spectacular places in the world to visit; but the cuisine is an acquired taste. Hákarl, for instance, is fermented Greenland shark, an animal that is poisonous when fresh. The fact that Icelanders worked out how to live off the stuff is proof they know their way around fermentation. 

The Skyn Iceland Nordic Renewal Pre + Probiotic Cream is enriched with prebiotic and probiotic ferments to support and enhance the skin’s microbiome. 

Plus it offers deep hydration courtesy of the thermal water made famous by the country’s swoon-worthy hot springs.  Baste it on dry skin, slip into a hot bath, and pretend you’re at the Blue Lagoon. 

Natalie Bochenski
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