WTF Is It And Should You Try It?

WTF Are Topical Probiotics, And Should You Try Them?

We know about the benefits of ingesting probiotics, but what about topical skincare products?

WTF Is It And Should You Try It? is an original A Plus Lifestyle series: Every now and then, we take a closer look at the lifestyle trends taking over our news feeds and find out whether they're worth the hype.

Probiotics can be found in such foods as yogurt, miso soup, and sauerkraut, as well as drinks such as kombucha, beer, and wine. But you may have also noticed them showing up in your skincare products, too. From one-off face masks, to an entire line dedicated to probiotic formulas, these beneficial bacterias are becoming more and more popular in the beauty world. 

We all know that probiotics can work wonders on our digestive health, but can they also help us get closer on our seemingly never-ending journey to enviable skin? Or are they just another fad? 

We decided to find out. 


First, what are probiotics?

"Probiotics are good bacteria, as opposed to 'bad' bacteria which antibiotics fight against. We need good bacteria to help protect us against toxins and bad bacteria to which we are exposed," Jeannette Graf, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, told A Plus. "The skin itself has probiotics, which are necessary to protect our skin from bacteria in the environment." 

Probiotic skincare usually use a combination of prebiotics — non-digestible plant-based carbohydrates that discourage the growth of pathogens while preserving beneficial bacteria — and lysates

"Prebiotics and lysates work by producing substances, such as lactic acid and hyaluronic acid, which help to moisturize and protect the skin, peptidoglycans, which help the skin produce antimicrobial peptides, and acetic acid, which is antibacterial against such potential colonizers such as pseudomonas," Graf said. 

What are the benefits of using topical probiotics?

Using skincare products with probiotics, prebiotics, and lysates may be just the thing you need to treat some very common skincare concerns. 

Studies have shown topical probiotics and their lysates have been found to effectively treat acne, reduce redness and inflammation, improve sensitive skin, and treat dry skin. Some new areas of research include their anti-aging benefits, such as increasing collagen in the skin, reducing sun damage, and improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, more studies need to be done to support these benefits. 

Should you try them?

Skincare products with probiotics have been shown to have some exciting benefits, but before you get your hands on them, you should bring it up with your dermatologist — and that goes for any new skincare treatment you're interested in using regularly. 

"You might not have sensitive skin. Many times people tend to self-medicate," Dendy E. Engelman, MD, FACMS, FASDS, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon, told A Plus in a previous interview. "They think their skin is 'too oily' or 'too something else' so they are washing, scrubbing, peeling, exfoliating and using any product they can get their hands on to fix the problem only to find themselves with very reactive skin." 

No one wants to spend extra time in a dermatologist's office, but it's a small price to pay to ensure you're doing the right thing for your skin. 

If you get the OK to use topical probiotics, Dr. Grad recommends Eminence's Clear Skin Probiotic Masque, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare's Miracle Cleanser, Clinique's Redness Solutions Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15 With Probiotic Technology, and TULA's Skincare Hydrating Day and Night Cream

Cover image via ImageFlow I Shutterstock


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.