I Tried Probiotic Skincare And This Is What You Need To Know
Does adding bacteria to fight bacteria really work?
If someone had told me a couple of months ago, I’d be using fermented skincare products, I would have given that person the highest raised eyebrow ever. But fast-forward and here I am, slathering living bacteria on my face.
Even though it’s already been two months since I started my quest for probiotic goodness, I still can’t help but imagine tiny creatures living in the bottles and tubes, eagerly waiting to be released onto my skin to fight the bad guys – because that’s basically what the principle of probiotic skincare is about.
Just like we have good and bad bacteria in our gut (responsible for everything from our immunity to weight, and even mental health), there’s all kinds of bacteria on our skin, too.
Founder of probiotic skincare brand Ocinium, Cassandra Hilton, explains “probiotic bacteria are fermented to produce acidic compounds such as lactic acid that reduce the pH of the skin and discourage the growth of bacteria associated with acne while improving the composition of good bacteria to the skin.”
Since this somewhat simplified description made a lot of sense to me, I was willing to give it a go. My skin is quite sensitive and reactive, so I was a bit scared of the thought of putting bacteria on my skin, but hey, it’s just one of many weird beauty routines you try as a beauty editor.
Getting down to business
I started my new skincare routine with Ocinium’s Bio-Ferment Enzyme Cleanser, which promises to “preserve the skin’s natural pH balance” while purifying and gently exfoliating the skin. Thinking about fermentation in foods, I expected it to smell like rotten eggs, which is why I was pleasantly surprised to get a whiff of citrus upon first use.
The cleanser felt very rich and nourishing, and actually did a great job at removing makeup. What I loved most about it, was how it made my skin feel plump and hydrated instead of squeaky clean and dry like so many other cleansers have done before. Was that the feeling of tiny microbes on my skin? Maybe.
Before I could think too much about it, I continued my new probiotic skincare routine with The Beauty Chef’s Probiotic Skin Refiner, a toner whose Lactobacillis probiotics “help balance the skin’s natural flora, strengthen the skin’s barrier system and boost the skin’s immune health,” according to the description on the bottle.
“Additionally, bio-fermented lactic acid gently exfoliates the skin, increases the skin’s natural moisturising abilities and stimulates collagen synthesis.”
I usually avoid toners as they make my skin feel dry and irritated, so my hopes for this one weren’t very high. Upon opening the bottle, the fermented smell I had expected from the cleanser earlier hit me. I would describe it as a mix between apple cider vinegar and grass, not exactly pleasant, but not horrible either.
Once again, just like with the cleanser, applying the toner felt like I was adding something to my skin instead of cleaning and stripping it, and my skin seemed to lapp up the toner, absorbing all the fermented goodness I was giving it.
With a lot of other products used in the past, my sensitive skin would show quite a bit of redness after using them for the first time, especially around my cheeks, so I was shocked to see zero redness from the probiotic stuff.
I completed my fermented skincare routine with Aspect’s Gold Probiotic Sleep Mask, a deeply hydrating face mask containing Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, a lactic acid which “naturally keeps away the nasty bacteria that give rise to inflammatory conditions such as acne and rosacea but maintain our healthy bacteria that form part of our skin’s natural immune system,” according to the brand’s national education manager, Joanne Healy.
This product feels like a hybrid between mask and moisturizer, with a super smooth consistency and lovely fresh smell. It’s pretty greasy, but at the same time does a great job at making the skin feel plump and hydrated. I usually leave it on for 20 minutes, then take off the excess with a tissue to leave a thin layer on my skin overnight.
I’ve been using this skincare routine for about two months now and can honestly say I’m a probiotic convert. While it hasn’t miraculously turned my skin from average to flawless, it seems to have improved my skin tone, which is less spotty and irritated, and also feels a little bit smoother.
Once you get over the creepy thought of putting microbes on your skin, probiotic skincare makes a lot of sense. Just like taking probiotic supplements and eating fermented foods to help our gut’s bacterial balance, topical probiotics can do the same for our biggest organ, our skin.
There’s even some clinical research behind it showing probiotics in skincare can reduce acne and inflammation as well as improve skin hydration. So as weird and slightly gross as it sounds, I highly recommend you give the good bacteria a chance.
Comment: Would you give probiotic skincare a go?