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The Best Skin Care Products With Probiotics, The Beauty Industry's Newest "It" Ingredient

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When you start obsessing over skin care products, it can be dangerously easy to start believing that your skin is lacking in some way; not glowy enough, not firm enough, not clear enough, not clean enough. But your skin’s microbiome proves that your body is preloaded with all the right stuff to achieve perfectly balanced skin — you just need to learn how to work with that stuff, not against it. That’s exactly what the best skin care products with probiotics do.

But first, some science. Your microbiome is a huge, diverse network of microorganisms that protect your skin from harmful bacteria, both innate and environmental. According to New York dermatologist Dr. Kenneth Howe, with whom I spoke for this article, if your microbiome becomes unbalanced, “the normal healthy functioning of the skin is impaired” and “bad” bacteria proliferates. In turn, that overgrowth can contribute to conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and inflammation. An imbalanced microbiome also compromises the skin's natural protective barrier, which is responsible for locking in moisture.

“Having enough of the right ‘friendly’ bacteria on our skin helps prevent infections,” Dr. Howe explains. “These good bacteria ward off ‘bad’ or pathogenic bacteria by competing with them for food and living space on the skin, or by secreting substances that inhibit the reproduction of potentially pathogenic bacteria.”

Probiotic skin care products work to restore and recalibrate your microbiome to its peak performance level, either by feeding that good bacteria (technically, these are labelled “prebiotics”), or by mimicking the behavior of good bacteria (“postbiotics”). With your skin flora in check, you’ll experience fewer breakouts and inflammation, and more natural hydration and luminosity.

I also got in touch with Dr. Roshini Raj, a practicing gastroenterologist at New York University and founder of TULA, a probiotic skin care line. She assures me that probiotic skin care products are safe for all skin types, including acne-prone and hyper-sensitive skin. As with any other skin care product, Dr. Raj says that people with finicky skin types should simply pay extra attention to the ingredients list.

“Consumers with sensitive skin should look for calming ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, cucumber, and ginger while avoiding fragrances,” she says. “And people with acne-prone skin should look for effective ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and licorice root, while also avoiding alcohol and fragrances.” But because probiotics are so effective at both reducing inflammation and locking in moisture, they can target any skin care concern. They just make your skin healthier, period.

In other words, probiotic skin care does the same thing for your skin microbiome that kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods do for your gut microbiome — and probiotic skin care is pretty quickly becoming as popular as kombucha. From a cleanser to a body wash to a brightening eye cream, here are just five of the best probiotic skin care products you can get right now.

1
The Best Probiotic Moisturizer

I probably don’t need to tell you that a lack of sleep wreaks all kinds of havoc on your skin. But as a human with friends, obligations, and a Netflix subscription, that probably doesn’t stop you from missing out on your eight hours every once in a while. So when you and your skin are feeling a little run down, use this Pacifica Coconut Probiotic Water Rehab Cream. The star ingredient here is lactococcus ferment lysate, a probiotic that strengthens your skin's barrier for better hydration and promotes cellular turnover for increased radiance. This water-based cleanser also contains hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and coconut water to double down on restoring your skin’s moisture levels and glow, while refreshing aloe helps soothe redness and inflammation. It’s not a replacement for a full night’s sleep, but at least no one’ll notice that you watched The Bachelor for six hours straight last night.

2
The Best Probiotic Cleanser

This Andalou Naturals Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk is gentle enough for the most sensitive skin types, but it’s packed with seriously effective ingredients. Bacillus coagulans, a particularly powerful vegan probiotic, is put to work here for balancing skin flora. Elsewhere, the brand’s signature fruit stem cell technology delivers a concentrated blend of antioxidants, like collagen-boosting CoQ10, that plump, brighten, and protect your skin. It’s loaded with natural oils, too — apricot, sunflower seed, and sweet almond, to name a few — which restore hydration while breaking down makeup, excess oil, and environmental grime.

3
The Best Probiotic Eye Cream

From her own brand, this is Dr. Raj’s personal desert island pick. “The TULA Skincare Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm lives in my purse (and on my desk) for on-the-go brightening,” she says. In addition to the line’s signature probiotics, this portable eye balm contains caffeine for brightening and de-puffing, aloe for cooling, and superfoods like antioxidant-rich blueberry for hydrating and protecting the fragile skin around your eyes. “It’s super easy to use — just swipe it under and around eyes and on top of cheekbones for a healthy glow,” Dr. Raj says. “It also helps calm dark circles and puffiness so you look refreshed and energized.”

4
The Best Probiotic Sheet Mask

If we’ve learned anything over the past few years in skin care, it’s that there is truly a sheet mask for (and containing) everything — and compared to bird saliva or snail mucus, a bacteria-packed sheet mask, like the LAPCOS Pearl Sheet Mask, is pretty tame. Reviewers rave about this mask’s brightening and hydrating cocktail of ingredients, which contains the probiotic lactobacillus, a type of lactic acid that can help treat acne and quell inflammation (it’s present in yogurt, which is partially why DIY yogurt face masks work so well). Also in the formula, pearl extract works to rejuvenate dull-looking skin, while peony extract offers soothing and softening benefits. This Korean sheet mask is gentle enough to use a couple times a week, but even a one-off application will leave your skin as glowy as its gorgeous rose gold packaging.

5
The Best Body Wash With Probiotics

As long as they’re OK’d by your dermatologist, probiotic body washes, like Aleavia Enzymatic Body Cleanse, work great if you experience skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, keratosis pilaris, or super dry skin in general, since those bacteria are so effective at balancing, strengthening, and naturally exfoliating your skin. More specifically, this Aleavia body wash contains prebiotics — in here, they’re alkaloids extracted from superfood-y sea kelp — that feed your skin’s good bacteria. This body wash only contains seven naturally derived ingredients, including those prebiotics, like aloe, coconut oil, and sea salt. That means this a great option if you’re sensitive to synthetic additives, or if you just like to be able to pronounce the ingredients in your skin care products.

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Bustle's editorial and sales departments.

Experts:

Dr. Roshini Raj, MD, board-certified gastroenterologist.

Dr. Kenneth Howe, MD, board-certified dermatologist.

Studies referenced:

The Skin Microbiome: Impact Of Modern Environments on Skin Ecology, Barrier Integrity, and Systemic Immune Programming; Susan Prescott-Danica-Lea Larcombe-Alan Logan-Christina West-Wesley Burks-Luis Caraballo-Michael Levin-Eddie Etten-Pierre Horwitz-Anita Kozyrskyj-Dianne Campbell - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568566/