FERMENTED FACE: The benefits of probiotics

The benefits of probiotics or “health bacteria” in skin care most often found in fermented foods with live active cultures. For example: Greek yogurt and kimchi.

This is not a new topic. More than 80 years ago, dermatologists John H. Stokes hypothesized that the stress we experience in life had the ability to negative alter gut health leading to inflammation on the skin’s surface. He proposed that consuming the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus could help the skin, and in recent years these theories are becoming very popular.

Dr. Rebecca Kazin, board-certified dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, tell us that having healthy intestinal flora—the bacteria present in our gut—isn’t only important for our digestion tract, but can also be good for our skin. “Maintaining [a heathy flora] is important and probiotics are a great way of doing this,” she says.

The Science

To understand the science behind fermented skin care, think of digestive enzymes. Just as fermented foods and enzyme supplements aid in the digestion and absorption of nutrients you consume, fermentation of the nutrients in topical skin care makes them more concentrated and easily absorbed.

These beauty products often contain fruit, herbs and yeast, all of which can be fermented. The fermentation process transforms the natural substances in a moisturizer, serum or mask, enabling the skin to more readily accept and absorb these ingredients.

Beauty Benefits

In addition to easier and quicker absorption, fermentation also works to increase the nutrient density, making the product’s natural ingredients more powerful. Wine for instance, has greater overall antioxidant capacity than grape juice.

Often fermented yeast extract is included in these formulations, since the fermentation process produces amino acids and peptides that help skin’s cellular renewal. In 2007 a study in Dermatologic Therapy found that fermented yeast extract could help diminish the signs of skin aging by improving collagen synthesis.


Interested in incorporating more probiotics into your diet to reap the possible skin care benefits? Look for foods like yogurt, aged cheese, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut on your next trip to the supermarket.

While further study is needed to substantiate the actual affects of probiotics on our skin, eating a well-balanced diet is always a good choice for your overall well-being!

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