Today, I’d love to dive into a subject I’ve been kind of obsessed with this week. Every night before I go to bed I’ve been reading, reading, reading about the subject, trying to learn as much as I can about PROBIOTICS.
If you’ve seen my instagram any time recently, you’ve probably seen my stories about probiotics and my probiotic journey.
Last week, I went to whole foods for dinner and was checking out their selection of probiotics. I wanted something that was inexpensive, but also that had a good mix of bugs. Now, I had no idea just how expensive probiotics could be. Like, there were some that cost $50 a bottle – what?
Since I was new to probiotics outside of Kombucha, I was not about to spend too much so I settled on 365 Everyday Value with Acidophilus for $9.99. Now, while I’m not 100 percent about them, I found that they were a good start for me. I’ll definitely be looking for a different brand when I run out, but I’m pretty satisfied so far.
Before I get ahead of myself, what are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your digestive system. There are all kinds of probiotics and, in general, its recommended to take a variety of strands.
Now, as always, I’m not a doctor, I’m not in medical school, I’m in advertising. So, do your research to find what’s’ best for you. Cool? Cool.
Probiotics can help move food through your body and assist in overall gut health. But, for our purposes, we’re going to talk about how probiotics help your skin! As we know, the gut is the center of our immune system. It makes sense that what goes on in our gut can show up in your face.
But, let me preface this by saying that I’m going to talk about two ways of using probiotics – oral consumption and topical application. Let’s jump into oral first.
Now, the following info comes from a conversation with my bff in med school. I’m going to do my best to explain the science behind probiotics and our skin, but I’ve included a link to an article she recommended on my site if you’re interested in taking a deeper look.
How do probiotics affect the skin and why?
One big theory that has been around since the early 60s is that there is a relationship between our gut flora (the bacteria that colonizes our gut) and our skin (specifically acne vulgaris). This has been studied fairly extensively in people who are known to experience acne related to stress in their lives.
A little bit of the scientific background on our gut; you may remember from high school science about parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. We won’t get into all of that, but suffice it to say that parasympathetic is known as the “rest and digest” part of our nervous system. When we are resting or sleeping, we are calm, and we are digesting.
When we are revved up from 5 o’clock traffic or mad at someone at work, we don’t have the energy to dedicate to our digestion (we need it all to be on high alert!). So if someone is stressed a lot of the time, they can notice changes in their bowel habits (you may hear people talk about having an “irritable bowel” when they are in stressful situations) because simply put, their bodies aren’t in enough of a resting state to adequately digest and support their bowels.
So how does this tie into inflammation, or acne?
Well when you think of digestion you probably think about your food being broken down into nutrients you can use, which is correct. Your body uses all kinds of enzymes and lots of acids and chemicals to break down your food. Well if you aren’t able to digest as efficiently due to stress, your body won’t be making as much acid to digest.
That “good bacteria” in our that we always here about won’t be killed and recycled as it should be and it can build up. Good bacteria is only good in adequate proportions, too much is not good either. This makes sense if you really think about it. If you have too much bacteria anywhere you may think of things like redness, pain, or inflammation. Those are all things that can happen if you have a buildup of bacteria in your gut. All of that bacteria can cause a lot of inflammation that can not only impact your bowel habits but can also leak into your body as a whole.
You may have heard of “leaky gut”
A place that you may notice inflammation is your skin, especially manifesting as acne.
So the theory behind probiotics is that if you are replacing the overgrown bacteria in your gut with new, fresh bacteria therefore over time, you will get less systemic inflammation and less acne (if your acne is particularly related to your stressful lifestyle and not other factors such as hormonal imbalances, etc).
Makes sense, right?
As far as knowing what kind of probiotics to buy, well, that’s up to you and your needs. A lot of probiotics have milk products in them, but you can find some that are vegan and vegetarian. Mine are vegetarian as I can’t have milk.
I prefer probiotics that are refrigerated. You can’t really find these kind in Walmart, but any health food store or supplement store should have a decent variety. In Whole Foods, they have a whole aisle dedicated to refrigerated probiotics.
I prefer refrigerated probiotics as the bacteria can be killed by heat or humidity. A quick note on that. When I bought my probiotics from Whole Foods and brought them home, I was really surprised to find a wad of cotton inside of the bottle. Freaking out, because I thought it was a junk bottle, I called my mom, a nurse – what up mom! – and she told me that the cotton was there to help against humidity. So, don’t be too alarmed if you find a wad of cotton in yours. Of course, ask someone just to make sure that’s normal. Always a good rule.
Just remember, the jury is still out on whether or not refrigerated probiotics are better. I just know I’d rather be safe than sorry.
That is of course considering you are taking probiotic pills like I am.
You can get your dose of probiotic goodness in a bunch of different ways – foods like Kimchi, Miso Soup, Sauerkraut, yogurt, and drinks like Kombucha or kefir are great sources of probiotics. Look for those fermented foods!
One thing I really like about probiotics is that there is something for everyone. Hate taking pills? Sip some Kombucha. Hungry? Each kimchi. Wanting something hot on a cold day? Slurp up some miso soup. In a hurry? Down a pill.
There are really so many options.
Now, let’s talk a bit about topical probiotics.
What the hell is a topical probiotic? You’ve probably heard about them for awhile now as they have started popping up in all kinds of skincare products.
Probiotic in skincare products is definitely new territory. I found a really great article called “8 of the Best Skincare Products Infused with Probiotics” from Allure.com that outlined some of the benefits of probiotics in our topical creams and serums.
In the article, Jolene Edgar and Whitney Bowe discuss our skin’s microbiome, or the many bugs that make our skin their home.
Pause to vomit.
If there is one thing I can’t stand its bugs. The thought of any bug, microorganism or otherwise, living on my face puts me on edge. But, I’m already smearing snail goo on my face so what is a little bacteria, right?
Like, my whole life I thought the goal was to keep bacteria AWAY from our faces?
Anyways, these bugs help to keep our skin healthy in a variety of ways. Regulating PH, fighting infection, and boosting immunity. These bugs also have a sort of relationship with the bugs in our gut. I imagine them talking to each other through cans on a string or something.
Keeping these bugs on our skin happy and well-fed (ew) is one of the many purposes of probiotic skincare.
Some creams contain probiotics while others have “prebiotics” or substances that help feed the bugs already living on our faces. There are also prebiotics for the probiotics we take by mouth – like oats. As well as probiotics and prebiotics, there are also “postbiotics” or extracts of what bugs release as they ferment.
There are all kinds of products that have probiotics swimming around in them and finding the right one for you definitely comes down to preference.
In the Allure article, they list out a variety of products that sounds pretty interesting. I’ve included the article on my blog in case you want to take a peek!
I’ll name a few now to give you some ideas: La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm PA + Intense Repair Moisturizing Cream, Mother Dirt AO+ Mist (which I’m actually ordering when we get moved into the the new loft), Marie Veronique Pre-Probiotics Daily Mist, and LaFlore Probiotic Concentrate Serum. A full list can be found in the article.
Now, while I’m waiting for the Mother Dirt mist to arrive, I’ve been using Derma E’s Vitamin C Moisturizer with Probiotics and Roobios for the past few weeks every morning
It’s here that I’d like to go over my own probiotics journey – what I’ve found with both topical and oral use. Now, what happened with me might not happen to you. Everyone is different and there are side effects to probiotic use. Ask your doctor if you should take probiotics and always do your research. I’m no expert and not endorsing or encouraging the use of any products.
Ok, so the Derma E moisturizer goes on after my rose water toner. I like to use about a nickel size amount all over my face and neck. I add sunscreen on top followed by my foundation and then more sunscreen. I’m a sunscreen queen.
This cream has saururus Chinensis Extract Ferment Filtrate – a probiotic.
I’m a big fan of Derma E as they are a natural skincare company. This moisturizer is thick and has a pleasant smell and non-oily consistency. While I wouldn’t say I’ve seen incredible changes with this cream, I do love how hydrating it is and the fact that it uses a stable form of vitamin c. For this reason, I doubt I’ll use any other moisturizer.
Do I see my acne vanish? No. Do I see less inflamation? No.
Do I fully believe in topical probiotics? Not entirely sure. When I get the Mother Dirt mist, I’ll give you the lowdown.
BUT – let’s talk about those damn pills. I have never, in my life, seen anything work as quickly as those damn pills.
The day I bought them I gulped one down. The next morning, another. By the end of the day, my face was breaking out like crazy. I had a zit the size of a penny by my nose. I had flare ups all over my chin and neck. I had it all.
Dr. Lauryn, an occupational therapist and nutritionist of drlauryn.com, describes how increased acne can be a side effect of taking probiotics. She calls it a “healing reaction.” As the “bad” bacteria are threatened by the “good” bacteria we are ingesting, they act out resulting in acne.
She says in her post that after consistent use, this symptom could go away OR it could be an indication of a larger problem. To combat the breakout, she suggests taking a variety of probiotics, get more rest, and drink more water. Of course, I would add see a doctor.
For now, I’m continuing to take my probiotics and will let you know what the first month reveals. Will my acne get worse? Will it get better? Only my instagram posts will tell…