Probiotics For Skin Care: Benefits, Uses, And Side Effects

Get ready to feed and nourish your skin from within.

Reviewed by Bianca Lorena Saldes, Registered Cosmetic Nurse Bianca Lorena Saldes Bianca Lorena SaldesRegistered Cosmetic Nurse facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Swathi E MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
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Probiotics have been used for centuries to improve human health. Some also believe that probiotics can improve skin health and reduce several skin issues, including acne. But what does science say about using probiotics for skin care? In this article, we understand how probiotics can actually improve your skin health, texture and appearance. We will also discuss how you can include them in your skin care regimen. Keep reading to know more.

What Are Probiotics And Why Are They Good For Your Skin?

Certain microbial organisms in the body are beneficial to our health when administered in appropriate amounts. These microbial organisms are bacteria called probiotics that primarily improve gut health. The most beneficial probiotic bacteria are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria that are found in fermented dairy products, powders, and drinks.

Probiotics are not the same as prebiotics. Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that cannot be digested by the human body. They act as food for probiotic microorganisms. A combination of prebiotic and probiotic organisms is called synbiotic.

Probiotics are said to enhance skin texture, appearance, and health. Some believe that oral and topical probiotics may help manage skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and psoriasis, and may help with wound healing. They may also help make your skin glow and keep it hydrated and moisturized.

In the following section, we discuss the science-backed benefits of probiotics.

Benefits Of Probiotics For Skin

1. May Treat Atopic Dermatitis

Many studies show the impact of probiotics on atopic dermatitis (1). In a study, oral probiotics administered to pregnant women (with a high probability of having atopic children) decreased the chances of them delivering atopic children (1), (2). In another study, a probiotic supplement containing lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium lactis, and fructo-oligosaccharides decreased atopic dermatitis in infants between 12 to 36 months of age (1), (3).

About 75% of studies show that probiotics may help manage atopic dermatitis. Nine studies showed that some probiotics may even help manage atopic dermatitis symptoms in adults (4). A lotion containing heat-treated lactobacillus johnsonii was applied to adult atopic patients with mild-moderate severities (5). The application inhibited the bacteria staphylococcus aureus in AD patients.

Data from a randomized clinical trial involving 2599 randomized participants who had mild to severe eczema were studied to understand the effect of probiotic intake on skin. It was found that probiotics reduced SCORAD (Severity Scoring of Atopic Dermatitis) by 3.91 points by reducing symptoms like itching and sleep loss in 1596 participants.

2. May Help Reduce Acne Vulgaris

In studies, probiotics like lactobacillus acidophilus and lactobacillus bulgaricus were administered to 300 acne patients (1), (6). Eighty percent of the patients showed an improvement in acne and a reduction in inflammatory lesions. Another study showed that oral probiotics, paired with oral minocycline, may help manage acne (1), (7). Lactobacillus rhamnosus, when consumed for 12 weeks, showed an improvement in adult acne (1), (8). In fact, topical lactobacillus bulgaricus was used as early as 1912 to manage acne (1). Research shows that probiotic bacteria Enterococcus faecalis acts against propionibacterium acnes (which causes acne). The probiotic lotions can also decrease inflammatory acne lesions (1), (9).

Other probiotic bacterial strains found to inhibit acne include lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus gasseri, and lactococcus lactis (5). Administration of oral probiotic capsules was shown to reduce rosacea and acne, and even lead to complete recovery in some patients (5). Regular consumption of fermented milk containing lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus, over a period of 12 weeks, was also found to improve clinically-graded acne.

3. May Boost Overall Skin Health

Probiotics may have anti-aging properties as they improve skin elasticity and hydration. They are also said to reverse skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation and offer photoprotection (10). Probiotic bacteria, lactobacillus paracasei, may improve the skin barrier function. Topical application of bifidobacterium longum was shown to reduce skin dryness and aging. Probiotic bacteria may also enhance tissue repair and may aid in wound healing. Topical probiotics shield the skin and boost skin moisture (11). Anecdotal evidence suggests that probiotic bacteria may also make your skin glow.

Skim milk fermented with streptococcus thermophilus was found to improve skin hydration and antioxidant effects (12). Aloe vera, fermented with lactobacillus plantarum, could increase skin hydration fourfold compared to regular aloe vera juice. Fermented soybean milk containing bifidobacterium breve was found to increase hyaluronic acid production in human cells. Probiotics may also repair burns and scars, rejuvenate the skin, and boost its immunity (13). Probiotics may even reduce wrinkle depth and hyperpigmentation in the skin (14).

Sonia Anastasia, a YouTuber, details her experience of taking probiotics for her acne. She admitted to having faced bloating after taking her first probiotic pill. She started with 1 pill and then increased to 2 pills in 3 days. She said, “My skin has really got better (i).” She further said, “I feel a drastic difference.”

Probiotic bacteriotherapy was found to help treat skin diseases like eczema, acne, allergic inflammation, and skin hypersensitivity (15). Although limited, research shows that probiotic bacteria may affect the gut microbiome positively and help manage psoriasis (16). Probiotic bacteria, lactobacillus pentosus, may reduce erythema and scaling (1).

protip_icon Pro Tip
Consumption of probiotics can be beneficial for travelers who may be exposed to new and potentially harmful bacteria as it may help prevent or reduce the severity of traveler’s diarrhea (17).

These are the many benefits of probiotics for your skin. How can you use them to your advantage?

How To Use Probiotics

Probiotics can be ingested orally in food or capsule form, or applied topically in the form of lotions, creams, and other cosmetic products.

Probiotic foods include cheese, yogurt, and milk made with lactic acid bacteria and fungi fermentation, and leavened bread made with yeast fermentation (18). You can also find dietary supplements and drugs that contain probiotic bacteria. While most dairy products are commonly associated with probiotic bacteria, you can also find non-dairy products like chocolate, cereals, beverages, fruit and vegetable items containing probiotic microorganisms.

Many cosmetic brands add probiotics to their products including lotions, creams, and moisturizers.

Additionally, you can also make homemade face packs and moisturizers with probiotic foods like fermented soybean milk and yogurt.

protip_icon Trivia
While some probiotics are available over-the-counter as dietary supplements, others are prescribed by healthcare providers, especially if they are for specific health conditions or after a course of antibiotics.

While probiotics are generally safe, they also may have certain adverse effects. We shall discuss them in the next section.

Side Effects Of Probiotics

Some adverse effects associated with probiotics include (1), (4):

  • Systemic infections
  • Abdominal cramping, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and taste issues
  • Some probiotic foods may contain microorganisms not mentioned on the label that may cause serious health risks.

Note: Not all fermented foods should be considered probiotics or safe. Sourdough bread and fermented foods like pickles are processed after fermentation, which kills any living bacteria. Other fermented foods that contain microorganisms include apple cider vinegar, kimchi, kombucha, miso, and sauerkraut – and these are yet to be studied extensively.

Many people often tend to confuse probiotics and prebiotics. But there are key differences between the two. Check the section below to know more.

Probiotics Vs. Prebiotics

Both probiotics and prebiotics are essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system, but they serve different functions. Probiotics are the good bacteria that promote digestion and support your immune system (19). On the other hand, prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as a source of food for the good bacteria present in the gut (20). Foods packed with prebiotics include bananas, garlic, and onions, while rich sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, and kimchi. Both probiotics and prebiotics together contribute to a balanced and thriving gut microbiome that supports overall digestive health.

Probiotics are beneficial to our health in several ways. You can use probiotics for skin care as they help manage issues like acne, dry skin, and dullness. In addition, probiotics may help treat atopic dermatitis, improve the skin glow, reduce the signs of aging, and manage erythema and scaling. To incorporate probiotics in your daily life, you may use oral supplements or topical creams, lotions, and other skin care products. However, there are also some adverse effects associated with taking probiotics. Hence, consult a doctor before you include them in your daily routine.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for probiotics to work on the skin?

It may take a few weeks of consistent use for probiotics to show visible results on your skin (21).

Do probiotics make your nails grow?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that probiotics break down amino acids to help build stronger and more flexible nails.

Key Takeaways

  • Probiotics are a group of beneficial microbes that improve gut health.
  • Probiotics may help reduce acne vulgaris and atopic dermatitis.
  • They can be taken in the form of capsules or applied topically as lotions/ creams.

Watch the video to explore how probiotics are effective as skin care products. The video shares detailed analysis and insights to help you understand whether these products truly deliver skin benefits.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Review: Probiotics in Dermatology
    https://jsstd.org/review-probiotics-in-dermatology/
  2. Probiotics and Prevention of Atopic Disease: 4-Year Follow-Up of a Randomised Placebo-Controlled Trial
    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(03)13490-3/fulltext
  3. Probiotic Supplement Reduces Atopic Dermatitis in Preschool Children: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Trial
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20642296/
  4. Probiotics: What You Need to Know
    https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know
  5. Probiotics and Prebiotics Potential for the Care of Skin, Female Urogenital Tract, and Respiratory Tract
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7090755/
  6. Acne Vulgaris, Probiotics and the Gut-Brain-Skin Axis – Back to the Future?
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21281494/
  7. Prospective, Randomized, Open-Label Trial Comparing the Safety, Efficacy, and Tolerability of an Acne Treatment Regimen With and Without a Probiotic Supplement and Minocycline in Subjects With Mild to Moderate Acne
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23582165/
  8. Supplementation With Lactobacillus Rhamnosus Sp1 Normalises Skin Expression of Genes Implicated in Insulin Signalling and Improves Adult Acne
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27596801/
  9. Antimicrobial Activity of Enterocins from Enterococcus Faecalis Sl-5 Against Propionibacterium Acnes, the Causative Agent in Acne Vulgaris, and Its Therapeutic Effect
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19229497/
  10. Chapter 22 – Probiotics for Skin Benefits
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780815520290500296?via%3Dihub
  11. “probiotics” in Skin Care Products- a Review
    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/%E2%80%9CProbiotics%E2%80%9D-In-Skin-Care-Products-A-Review-Kurzekar-Wasule/c1276ff934caf1a521a2ca952e81ad8b6cee07ec
  12. Cosmetic Ingredients Fermented by Lactic Acid Bacteria
    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Cosmetic-Ingredients-Fermented-by-Lactic-Acid-Izawa-Sone/73e75b93bfae048d51fb4de93baee75fc3364cfa
  13. Bioactives from Probiotics for Dermal Health: Functions and Benefits
    https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Bioactives-from-probiotics-for-dermal-health%3A-and-Lew-Liong/08beda8176ad9d89532702e83c71f510b487f4ed
  14. Topical Probiotics in Dermatological Therapy and Skincare: a Concise Review
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13555-020-00476-7
  15. Health Effects of Probiotics on the Skin
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24364369/
  16. Skin and Gut Microbiome in Psoriasis: Gaining Insight Into the Pathophysiology of it and Finding Novel Therapeutic Strategies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7769758/
  17. Prophylactic Efficacy of Probiotics on Travelers’ Diarrhea: An Adaptive Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6232657/
  18. Probiotic Food Products Classes, Types, and Processing
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235819412_Probiotic_Food_Products_Classes_Types_and_Processing
  19. Probiotics – What They Are, Their Benefits and Challenges
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224830321_Probiotics_-_What_They_Are_Their_Benefits_and_Challenges
  20. Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331677001_Prebiotics_Definition_Types_Sources_Mechanisms_and_Clinical_Applications
  21. The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5418745/
  22. 10 Best Probiotics Of 2021 For A Healthy Gut Minus Bloating
  23. Top 9 Probiotic Drinks Available In India
  24. The 10 Best Digestive Enzyme Supplements Of 2021
  25. Top 10 Immunity-Boosting Products And Supplements
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Bianca Lorena Saldes
Bianca Lorena SaldesRegistered Cosmetic Nurse
Bianca Lorena Saldes is a Registered Cosmetic Nurse and Esthetic Educator with over five years of experience in the field. Her expertise lies in anti-aging treatments, and she aims to help individuals feel confident and look their best.

Read full bio of Bianca Lorena Saldes
Anjali Sayee
Anjali SayeeAssociate Editor
Anjali is an associate editor at StyleCraze. She specializes in hairstyles and hair and skin care and has written over 200 articles in these domains. She has 7 years of experience, and her philosophy about hair and skin care is simple: if you love and care for it, it will be healthy.

Read full bio of Anjali Sayee
Ramona is an editor at StyleCraze with 11 years of experience in writing and editing. She has authored over 200 articles on skin and hair care. She graduated from the University of Calcutta, West Bengal, and did her post-graduation from the University of Kalyani, West Bengal.

Read full bio of Ramona Sinha
Swathi E
Swathi ESenior Beauty & Lifestyle Writer
Swathi has a postgraduate degree in English literature from The English And Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, and over three years of experience in writing on beauty, health, and lifestyle. She also has a diploma in English journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Kottayam, and is a certified skincare coach.

Read full bio of Swathi E