© Provided by ELLE Should You Put Yogurt on Your Face?
If the thought of consuming live bacteria makes you feel a little nauseated—or at least makes you think that you would feel nauseated shortly after doing so—then just know this: If you’re a fan of yogurt, you likely eat it all the time. Just take a peek inside your fridge and check the label. See the phrase “live cultures” or “probiotic” on your Fage or Yoplait? Yep. Those are just different, less gross-sounding names for bacteria. Chances are you’re already aware of this, but it bears repeating that the health benefits of yogurt go beyond its high levels of protein and calcium. The “good” bacteria found in yogurt helps fight inflammation in the gut, neutralizing some toxins and helping to block out others. In simple terms, bacteria helps balance the “ecosystem” of the digestive system, which can easily be thrown out of balance—ultimately leading to speedier and more efficient digestion. But while scientists have been publishing studies about bacteria and gut health since the mid-’90s, they’re just discovering that this anti-inflammatory effect can also be hugely beneficial for our skin.”Both [internal and external application] have been shown to affect the skin in a significant way,” says Dr. Whitney Bowe, a New York City dermatologist who has published key studies in support of this. “For antiaging, and also to help with chronic skin conditions—things like acne, rosacea, and eczema.” At the forefront of Bowe’s research is a connection between the foods we eat—and more specifically, how we digest them—and the impact they have on our complexion. “The gut and the skin are actually very closely connected,” she says. ”
We know that refined carbohydrates and foods that are devoid of fiber really seem to slow digestion and gut motility. When that happens, it creates a shift in the type of bacteria that live in the gut. The molecules that are supposed to be kept inside your gut lining are actually seeping out into the bloodstream, and that can trigger system-wide inflammation and increase inflammatory markers in the skin.” You might see those “inflammatory markers” manifest as acne, redness, or dry patches. Scaling back on simple carbs and other inflammatory foods can certainly help, but Bowe says that a daily dose of probiotics is the real trick for restoring a healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive tract—and, in turn, seeing a variety of skin complaints disappear before your eyes. This might come in the form of a daily probiotic supplement or a number of foods: In addition to yogurt and a daily probiotic supplement, Bowe also touts kombucha, miso soup, sauerkraut, and kefir, a yogurt-like drink that’s starting to be widely available on supermarket shelves.
But while starting from the inside out is a great approach to glowing skin, research also shows that the anti-inflammatory impact of bacteria can be seen in topical use as well—though which method is more powerful still remains to be seen. Bowe usually recommends a combination of both, and says that her patients have seen results just by applying plain Greek yogurt on their faces twice a week. And while those with acne-prone skin will benefit especially, she says that people with any kind of skin type or condition can see good results. “As far as probiotics exacerbating or making a skin condition worse, I have not seen that happen,” she emphasizes, though adds that those with oily complexions should probably choose a low-fat or fat-free yogurt over a full-fat variety.But while that DIY approach is all well and good, many beauty brands are quite aware that probiotics could be the Next Big Thing in skin care, and a variety of probiotic-containing products are making their way to the market.
1. Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15 with Probiotic Technology, $27; clinique.com
2. Tula Purifying Face Cleanser, $25; tulaforlife.com
3. Acure Radical Resurfacing Treatment, $18; acureorganics.com
4. Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Cell Revitalise Rose Mask, $112; aureliaskincare.com net-a-porter.com
5. Eminence Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer, $58; dermstore.com
For what it’s worth, Bowe notes that the science with topical products is a bit different than when it comes to the stuff we ingest (though it’s nonetheless effective): Rather than including live bacteria cultures, many of the probiotic skin care formulas use bacteria fragments or metabolites—the “soup” surrounding grown bacteria cells, as she describes it. The reason is that there’s not currently any science to support the idea that live cells are any more effective when applied to skin than these fragments are. Still, Bowe says, that could change if the science emerges to back it up: “I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next couple of years we start seeing some brands utilizing live bacteria as well.”Another exciting new focus for scientists is figuring out whether certain bacteria strains can help certain skin complaints more than others. “It’s a very hot topic in the research world,” she says. “As we learn more and more about which kinds of bacteria tend to have these beneficial effects, we can probably end up sort of customizing, almost like a tailored probiotic regimen for each individual person and their individual skin condition.”A custom bacteria skin care regimen? It almost sounds chic.