Skincare is perhaps one category that completely resonates with the idea of self-care so much that there is always the ardent need to be a lot more creative with the ingredients. Presenting, Prebiotic and Probiotic skincare
By: Tejashee Kashyap
Posted on: January 27, 2020
As the skincare world is climbing to new heights with the constant desire of any individual to meet their definitions of ‘beautiful’, this industry is leaving no stone unturned to touch new horizons that benefits both - customers and merchandisers.
For the Ancient Egyptian, the passion and fetish for skincare, too, knew no boundaries. It is even said that Cleopatra used to bathe in milk rich in Lactic Acid to be the owner of good skin. Inspired by ancient traditions, the newest entry into the skincare industry is that of ‘Probiotics and Prebiotics’, which are actually not new in the world of healthcare.
Unmasking the World of Probiotics & Prebiotics
Skin Probiotics is taking centre stage in many people’s skin routine now. A host of microbial ecosystems reside in our skin that actually promotes skin health. Dr. Harshna Bijlani, Celebrity Skin Expert and Medical Head of ‘The Ageless Clinic’, tells us, “Your skin too, like the rest of your body, has its own microbiome (mix of bacteria, yeasts and parasites). Adding probiotics to skincare helps balance the counter effects of unhealthy microorganisms and promotes a fine level of healthy microorganisms.” The constant use of harsh facial cleansers and antibacterial soaps strip our skin of these good bugs, probably, yes as these products cannot branch the difference between ‘friendly’ and ‘non-friendly’ microbes. This bacterial imbalance seems to lead to various skin-related problems.
Although Probiotic skincare remains the prime talk in the industry, its comrade ‘Prebiotics’ has started to make its presence prominent among the ones mastering the act of skincare regimes. Dr. Jaishree Sharad, Celebrity dermatologist and author of ‘Skin Rules’ and ‘Skin Talks’, says, “Though Probiotics are viable micro-organisms that have a beneficial effect on the natural microflora of the skin when either consumed orally or applied topically, Prebiotics are the food ingredients required by probiotics for the growth of these viable microorganisms.”
Enter: Skincare Pro/Pre Biotics
We all know about the presence of probiotics and its behaviour of a ‘good Samaritan’ in our guts. There is a whole troop of topical beauty products like cleansers, moisturisers and serums, with the inclusion of these friendly bacteria and hyaluronic acid, retinol and vitamins to name a few that promise to soothe inflammation, strengthen the skin’s barrier and even diminish acne. Dr. Bijlani further enlightens, “It’s really difficult for a skincare product to contain actual live bacteria. They mostly contain fragments of bacterial cell walls that can elicit an immune response. This is due to the fact that skincare products need longer shelf-lives as compared to consumable probiotics.” Of course, skincare products have to stand out from the ones used in food and supplements. Very often, the incorporation of these biotics for topical regimes is considered a luxury investment. What makes them so variant and pricey? Dr. Sharad enlightens, “The probiotics for gut microbes need the prebiotics to be resisted to being digested in the stomach. So to skip this step, including prebiotics and probiotics in topical cosmetic formulations is a wiser choice. Formulating these into hardcore cosmetics is very difficult since all measures have to be taken to make sure the live microbes survive in the products and hence have a longer expiration date. These things make it more expensive than easy oral formulations.”
Cultivating the skin’s good bacteria is the newest friend of beauty and skincare world. Certain probiotic ingredients such as lactobacillus ferment are believed to have been quietly used as skin soothers. Dr. Bijlani shares, “Probiotics and Prebiotics have entered skincare only in the last few years. Probiotics help strengthen the skin’s barrier by making sure the healthy bacteria are more abundant and the negative effects of the unhealthy bacteria are controlled, which would, in turn, help with the concerns of acne, eczema, inflammation and so on. Also, every individual’s level of microorganisms present on their skin is different so probiotics aren’t always ‘one-size-fits-all’. Hence, like in the case of any skincare product, it’s better to proceed with caution, start using only one new skincare product at a time and make sure it suits your skin. Make sure the product you’re selecting has other active ingredients that complement the probiotics and the product is gentle on your skin.”
If one has to open the door of skincare products, there would be a flood of various brands with all kinds of ingredients and packaging that would seem beneficial to your skin. Although pre/probiotics might seem like a new chapter, there are already in-reign houses and labels catering to this genre of skincare. Aurelia’s Cell Revitalise night moisturiser was one of the first luxury British brands to actively pioneer probiotics. Orveda is an entire luxury skincare house dedicated to the world of ‘goodness’ of prebiotics. This new genre of skincare also has L’Oréal-owned Vichy’s Slow Age cream moisturiser and serum that has a probiotic complex to defend skin from the daily stress; Dior’s Hydra Life range – including the refreshing Deep Hydration Sorbet Water Essence, containing natural ingredients that nurture the skin’s microflora; and Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique sensitive dual concentrate serum has a trio of probiotic ingredients, to fight skin irritation and many more.
In this ever-increasing pool of skincare products, the usage has always been a trial method at first. With new elements incorporated in each piece, a consumer goes through a hard time selecting them Concern and caution should always be exercised. Dr. Sharad advises, “If these products work, it's an addition to skin health. It's definitely worth a try. However, none of them can be used in immunosuppressed, neutropenic or patients having major allergic reactions to dairy, soy, gluten, eggs or lactose. For acne-prone skin, using applications containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium Bifidus is important. Lactococcus Ferment Lysate is a good bacteria for sensitive skin. For oily skin - use a Lactobacillus or Nitrosomonas Eutropha based probiotic and a glycolic based combination that will balance the pH and act as an anti-inflammatory and mild anti-bacterial; for combination skin – use Lactobacillus, Lactic Acid and Vitamin C based products.”
Skin’s Flora Cultivation - Worth it?
Nothing matters than a flawless and happy skin that can make you garner everyone’s praises. The incorporation of topical biomes through the application of creams and supplements, however, is still a new world and an ongoing process of research. So until then, aren’t we all entitled to these new topical applications? Dr. Bijlani clarifies, “In theory, it’s a great concept and it’s definitely an interesting trend. However, I would like to wait until there’s more extensive research done on these ingredients to recommend them for any medical concerns.”
Science and technology know no boundaries. So feeding one’s face with goodies for the love of glowing skin is taking on a new cruise. Until then, patience and pondering over the question “Is the latest ‘good bug’ cultivation the future of beauty and skincare or is it another marketing strategy?” should be promising enough.