You probably already know that eating good bacteria, or probiotics, is essential for a healthy digestive system, decreased bloat, high energy levels, and glowing skin. (If you didn't, then it's time to start loading up on fermented foods like Greek yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, and supplements.) But did you also know that applying probiotics topically can have major benefits, too?
"When we ingest probiotic supplements, they nourish our skin from within by supporting the health of our gut microbiome," says New York-based dermatologist Whitney Bowe. "They help preserve the gut lining, balance the body's pH, regulate immunity, act as natural antibiotics, and control inflammation." Adding probiotics to your diet is great, but applying live, beneficial bacteria directly onto the skin can also help give you a glowing complexion in time for your wedding. Bowe says that some strains of probiotics can calm inflamed skin, which can be helpful in addressing acne and rosacea, while others can boost the skin's production of ceramides, which help lock in moisture and bolsters the skin's invisible barrier. Others still can create free radical fighting chemicals to support the skin's own antioxidant supply, which has anti-aging benefits.
So, if you want bright, healthy skin on the big day, using probiotic-infused beauty products can certainly help. But when prepping for your wedding, Bowe doesn't recommend trying a new product just a few days before the ceremony—you never know how your skin will react. Instead, begin a probiotic skincare regimen at least three months beforehand. "I've had patients claim to feel a difference in their skin even after just a few days of using probiotic skincare, but most of the emerging studies don't measure—or even attempt to quantify significant changes—until at least a month or two into treatment," she says. "I recommend my patients stick to a product for at least a full month before assessing whether it is having a meaningful impact."
Keep in mind, too, that probiotic skincare won't "stop working" after a while—it's just that the most dramatic difference will be seen in the first few months, especially if your skin's microbiome was very unbalanced to begin with, Bowe says. "Your skin doesn't develop a resistance, it's simply that it begins to recover and heal." That's why it's important to keep up with your routine even when your skin looks perfect.
One of her favorite probiotic lines is La Roche-Posay; she uses the brand's Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, which is a soothing, creamy cleanser made with their Prebiotic Thermal Water and Lipikar Body Lotion. "I can't stress enough how important it is to maintain the health of your skin's barrier by using gentle, pH balanced products," she says. "Your skin should feel hydrated and nourished after cleansing—not tight, dry, or squeaky clean and harshly scrubbed, which, unfortunately seems to be the norm for many people today."
But that's not the only brand creating probiotic-infused skincare. We also like Biossance's Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer, which contains red seaweed and ginger extract to calm skin and reduce redness. And, if you have acne-prone skin, try Eminence Organic Skin Care's Clear Skin Probiotic Masque, which contains probiotic-rich yogurt to help prevent blemishes.