Whether you’ve been browsing skincare aisles at your local drugstore, or shopping for nutritional supplements online, you have likely noticed many new products entering the market that claim to offer “probiotic” benefits. The word probiotics has been one of the hottest buzzwords in recent years, but what exactly does this term mean?
What are “Probiotics”?
To put it simply, probiotics are living organisms. More specifically, certain strains of beneficial bacteria are known to help promote healthy microbial life. You may be surprised to learn that not all bacteria are harmful. Modern marketing tactics often encourage consumers to do everything possible to kill off microbes in their homes and on their bodies. Usually, this is done by purchasing a range of products advertising antibacterial properties. This is lucrative for the companies selling these products. However, it is not at all the best way to keep your body healthy.
Sometimes, it is wise to destroy all bacterial life. For example, thoroughly sterilizing a scientific laboratory to prevent cross-contamination when researching microbial samples, or when disinfecting medical supplies or preparing surgical sites. But in our daily lives, our bodies depend upon certain strains of beneficial microorganisms to prevent an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and to protect and heal from bacterial, viral, and fungal infections internally, as well as on the skin.
We know that the epidermis is our body’s largest organ, but maintaining a balanced skin microbiome is all too often an overlooked factor in maintaining immunity and good health. Recent research has shown that our skin’s health plays a vital role in our body’s ability to recover from injury and protect us from disease, meaning that maintaining the balance of beneficial bacteria on our skin as well as throughout our bodies is a key component of lasting wellness.
What is Probiotic Skincare?
If you have ever taken a round of oral antibiotic medication, you may remember developing an upset stomach as a side effect. This is one common example of how destroying all bacterial life can lead to an over-abundance of harmful microbes. Oral antibiotics treat infections by killing the bacteria that are believed to be causing the infection. However, they also destroy the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome. Using harsh skincare products, such as antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, destroys the beneficial bacteria on your skin. This is much the same as when oral antibiotics upset the balance in your gut microbiome.
Many people prevent and treat the symptoms of an imbalanced gut microbiome by replacing the beneficial bacteria that they lost. Usually, this is done through foods that are high in probiotic content, or through probiotic dietary supplements. Along these same lines, when we use antibacterial products on our skin, we then need to replace the beneficial bacteria that was destroyed. Environmental factors such as pollution and synthetic chemical-based cosmetics can also disrupt this delicate balance of skin flora.
In any case, if we don’t re-establish a balance of microbial life, we may begin to experience adverse reactions. Studies have shown that many common dermatological conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis may actually be associated with an unbalanced skin microbiome and that replacing the missing microbial species may provide relief for patients who have otherwise seen little success with traditional medications and topical treatments.
Is Probiotic Skincare a Trend?
Probiotic skincare may be one of the newer categories of commercially available products in North America, but the practice of applying probiotic- and antioxidant-rich fermented foods (such as rice water) to your skin and hair has been popular in many cultures for years. With this history in mind, it is reasonable to conclude that probiotic skincare is far more than just the latest trend.
Using probiotic skincare products to replace good bacteria that are missing from your skin’s microbiome is very likely to have a positive effect on your comfort and physical appearance. However, the benefits of probiotic skincare are more than just “skin deep”.
A balanced microbiome is closely related to
- a healthy immune system and inflammatory response,
- your body’s ability to adapt to stressors,
- to protect you from inflammation, infection, and disease,
- to ensure proper healing from injuries and illnesses
For all of these reasons, it is safe to say that probiotic products are well worth their cost. That said, of course not all products are created equal. And, not all products that are labeled “probiotic” will deliver the promises that they claim.
Probiotic Skincare might be worth the hype…but is it worth the money??
We also understand that not many of us have extra money lying around these days. Thus, must be careful about “splurging” on a new purchase, especially during these changing times. Even though probiotics are immensely beneficial to our skin’s microbiome, these products can often carry a hefty price tag.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, we just haven’t been successful at getting money to grow on trees…yet! In the meantime, we can provide a couple of tips for what to look for when deciding whether a probiotic skincare product is worth the investment.
Determine Your Needs
Like with many products, the question of whether a probiotic skincare product is worth the cost (or not) is very dependent upon your needs and the quality of the product. To begin, you should determine why you are most interested in this type of product. Additionally, thinking about what you hope to gain from its use will help determine its necessity.
- Are you suffering from a difficult-to-treat, painful, or embarrassing skin condition?
- Or are you looking to improve your skin’s resistance to irritation and infection?
If you are struggling with discomfort, or if you have tried multiple other remedies to no avail, it may be well worth it to you to invest in a topical probiotic to hopefully alleviate your symptoms. Of course, if you are experiencing any new or bothersome symptoms, we recommend you consult with your trusted medical professional.
Check The Ingredients
The final step in determining whether or not a particular probiotic skincare product is right for you is to take a look at the product’s ingredient list. As mentioned in our blog posts on why you should make your own laundry detergent and dish soap, toxic ingredients are included in thousands of popular consumer products beyond just household cleaning supplies. Even though it may be hard to believe, many skincare products and cosmetics contain ingredients that are known to be:
- disruptive to the human body,
- harmful to the environment,
- and/or processed under unethical conditions.
We firmly believe that the best approach to wellness is a proactive one. This is why we heavily encourage all of our friends to do their best to avoid ingredients that could negatively impact their health or the planet over time.
From day one, our mission at Growing Organic has been to promote holistic wellness by sharing tips on how to live our modern lives in the most sustainable and fulfilling ways. Part of this mission includes providing educational resources. Plus, sharing the knowledge that we are so grateful to have received from others.
Soon after launching the Growing Organic Educational Hub, we discovered that many of our friends simply did not have access to the ingredients required to mix up some of our favorite products. In response, we created the Growing Organic Store, where we now offer a whole line of small-batch gardening additives, soil amendments, and compost supplies. But effective homesteading extends beyond the garden, and now, so do we!
Recently, we have been very excited to debut our tried and true recipes for a range of personal care products, including our customer-favorite Lavender + Beet Root Probiotic Facial Scrub, Simply Glowing Probiotic Facial Serum, and deodorizing Probiotic Pit Paste.
If you are interested in trying a gentle probiotic cleansing product for your skin, we love the recipe behind our Lacto-Soap-Cillus line, which includes both liquid and bar versions of our hand and body soap, as well as a brand new shampoo bar and Castile soap, too! All of our soaps are available in a variety of natural scents and are imbued with beneficial probiotic cultures. These include L. Acidophilus, L. Salivarius, L. Plantarum, L. Rhamnosus, B. Lactis, B. Bifidum, which may contribute to a more balanced skin flora.
We hope you are able to find a probiotic skincare product that meets your needs. Whether it is one of our own formulations, or from another retailer. And remember, if you have any questions, suggestions, or corrections, we always enjoy hearing from our friends!