The year 2021 is ushering in a return to basics even in the world of cosmetics. It is no longer just a question of giving up makeup under the pretext of it interfering with mask-wearing, but of allowing the skin to better defend itself against external aggressions. This is made easier by the arrival of new active ingredients, namely prebiotics and probiotics, which are about to revolutionise your beauty routine. We take a look.
You may not know it, but yogurt, blue cheese, pickles, and even sauerkraut are full of probiotics ― bacteria that, when consumed in sufficient quantities, prove to be beneficial to health. These bacteria are now appearing in certain cosmetics for the benefit of our skin, which will (finally) receive the necessary active ingredients to repair the damage of the past and learn how to defend itself against future aggressions. It could prove to be a major game-changer when it comes to individuals’ skincare.
So what is it?
Before jumping into any skincare department and taking the first product you see that mentions them, it is important to know what probiotics are, and what their benefits are for the skin. “Probiotics are what we call good bacteria. They are found ‘living’ in food, but we can’t bring them to cosmetics in this form. So they are fragments of good bacteria, which are sometimes also called postbiotics,” explains Sophie Strobel, a biologist who specialises in cosmetics.
However, be careful not to confuse prebiotics (sugars, fibers, amino acids) and probiotics (yeasts, molds), which have key distinctions that will guide you in the choice of these new allies. “Prebiotics are the specific ‘foods’ that good bacteria feed on. If you give prebiotics to the bacteria that are on your skin, the good ones, the latter will develop to the detriment of the bad bacteria,” continues the specialist. It’s all about balance and respect for the microbiota; once the balance between good and bad bacteria is restored, the skin is soothed and can once again defend itself properly.
Soon to be a must-have
Pollution, stress, sun, smoking, food, and even some irritating cosmetics are all factors that can impact the balance of the microbiota, and promote skin dryness, excess sebum, and other forms of inflammation. “This will affect the skin barrier in the broadest sense. Good bacteria will be affected, and the weaker they are, the more bad bacteria will develop. That’s when the balance is upset. This will aggravate skin problems and ultimately accelerate skin aging,” says Strobel.
And that’s where prebiotics come in. They serve, in their fashion, to reduce inflammation of stressed skin and soothe it over the long term. By “nourishing” the skin with good bacteria, the bad bacteria will disappear. It’s a very topical subject, and has become even more so since the beginning of the health crisis: going back to basics, giving the skin the opportunity to strengthen itself, without suffocating it with a multitude of products that only have very superficial effects without any in-depth actions.
Glow, moisturising, inflammation
The introduction of prebiotics and probiotics through skincare will ultimately help to give skin the strength it needs to fight against daily aggressions. As a result problems such as dryness, acne, or dull complexion will be more easily alleviated. This does not mean that all your current cosmetics are to be thrown away, but it is important to go back to the basics, to respecting the skin, before adding other ingredients.
“Generally speaking, they are good for the skin’s defenses. If the skin defends itself better, it means that it is soothed and there is less redness and inflammation. The skin is also better hydrated because they are sugars. And, depending on the extracts, this will also have an effect on complexion radiance and skin aging. It really all depends on the prebiotic extracts,” explains the biologist.
Contrary to what one might think, this complex science is still in its infancy but its potential seems infinite. Scientists working on the subject are convinced that bacteria are on the verge of revolutionising the industry, if only to help develop products that are more respectful of the skin and much less irritating.
“If it’s not the future of cosmetics, it’s part of it,” stresses Sophie Strobel. “We can no longer ignore prebiotics and probiotics. Today, we’re starting to realise that all we have to do is repair our skin barrier, soothe our skin, and everything will improve, and we’ll age less quickly. These are real leads. If this is not the future of cosmetics, it will now be a common thread for all products.”
Where to find them
Many brands have entered the niche market of cosmetics with prebiotics ― and/or probiotics. One example is Gallinée, one of the pioneers in this field, which offers a complete range for the face, body, and even hair. Products designed to work “your microbiome to help it to look after you” as the brand emphasises on its site.
But it’s not the only one, these types of beauty products can also be found at Aurelia Skincare, Orveda, and Talika whose Skintelligence range is based on the latest discoveries regarding the microbiome. All that remains now is to try them out and discover for ourselves to what extent bacteria, once considered our sworn enemies, can become our skin’s best allies.