Considering the many benefits of taking probiotics, it makes sense that you’d want to track down the best probiotics for acne, too. After all, probiotics help keep your gut healthy and balanced, and the health of your gut can have a major impact on your skin.
Whitney Bowe, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Looking and Feeling Radiant from the Inside Out, is one of many experts who believes that healing our skin starts by healing our gut. As Dr. Bowe tells Bustle, “When our intestinal lining is working properly, it forms a tight barrier which controls what is absorbed into our bloodstream. However, a compromised gut lining allows toxins, undigested food particles, and bad bacteria to ‘leak’ out of your intestines and to then travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. Your immune system marks these foreign substances as threats and therefore attacks them. This, in turn, gives rise to many substantial health issues. But, you can also have leaky skin. When your skin microbiome is off balance, meaning that the healthy balance of good bacteria on your skin is not intact, this can compromise your skin’s natural barrier. This leads to inflammation which in turn results in chronic skin conditions including acne and rosacea.”
“Oral probiotics support the health of the ‘good bugs’ that make up our microbiome, to keep our gut and skin healthy," Dr. Bowe explains. That includes preventing a leaky gut and consequently leaky skin, because the two are intimately related. Additionally, Dr. Bowe suggests adding fermented foods and beverages to your diet (including Greek yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, and kombucha) for even more probiotic benefits.
Below are four well-reviewed probiotics in both oral and topical form, whether you're dealing with run-of-the-mill breakouts or chronically inflamed skin. Scroll on to shop now.
Can taking probiotics clear acne?
It may come as a surprise to you, but scientists are still figuring out the exact causes of acne today. That said, there is mounting evidence that probiotics can be beneficial in treating acne. Probiotics can help to balance the immune system and reduce inflammation in the body, including inflammation of the skin.
But always keep in mind that your microbiome is unique, which means that what works for another person might not work for you, and vice versa.
Does gut bacteria cause acne?
Research has shown that the microbes in your gut can influence inflammation in the body. Since acne is an inflammatory skin condition, it's possible that an imbalance in your microbial environment could contribute to acne.
Can probiotics worsen acne?
There's a chance that taking a new probiotic might worsen acne, at least at first. When you alter the microbial environment in your gut, you may see temporary changes in your skin, including breakouts. One approach recommended by Mary Schook, an aesthetician and cosmetic chemist, is to give probiotics a "breakout period" before determining if they could work to treat your acne in the long run.
Kober, M., & Bowe, W. P. (2015). The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging. International Journal of Women's Dermatology, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5418745/
Lee, Byun, & Kim. (2019). Potential Role of the Microbiome in Acne: A Comprehensive Review. Journal of Clinical Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678709/
Salem, I., Ramser, A., Isham, N., & Ghannoum, M. A. (2018). The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis. Frontiers in Microbiology, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6048199/
Szántó, M., Dózsa, A., Antal, D., Szabó, K., Kemény, L., & Bai, P. (2019). Targeting the gut‐skin axis—Probiotics as new tools for skin disorder management? Experimental Dermatology, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/exd.14016
Dr. Whitney Bowe, MD, board-certified dermatologist, Medical Director of Integrative Dermatology, Aesthetics & Wellness at Advanced Dermatology, P.C., and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center.