As I explain in The Beauty of Dirty Skin (and now in Dirty Looks), the word “probiotic” literally means “for life.” Probiotics support the health of the good bugs that make up our microbiome, to keep our gut and skin healthy. The balance of bacteria in our gut has a profound role in the health of our skin. Inflamed gut leads to inflamed skin. If you restore the healthy balance, you calm inflammation in the gut and you will see that reflected in your skin.

Among their many health boosting jobs, probiotics:

  • fight bad bacteria
  • help regulate our immune system by working to control inflammation, and
  • support the healthy barrier function in both our gut and skin, preventing “leaky gut” (and “leaky skin”)

What to look for: Not all probiotics are created equal. Different strains of probiotics serve different purposes and, certain probiotics are much more effective than others. I’ve broken down many of the most effective strains for you right here:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum has been shown to help with wrinkles, elasticity and improve hydration in the skin. Some studies were done using oral supplementation and used a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled design which suggests it has an inside-out benefit (oral supplementation). These studies demonstrated a significant reduction in the depth of wrinkles, as well as improved elasticity and hydration.  Furthermore, lab and animal studies show that it actually protects skin against damaging UVB rays by protecting collagen. It does so by dialing down the enzyme that breaks collagen down when UVB rays penetrate the skin (MMP). It might have topical benefits as well. In summary, I think this particular species shows promise for hydration AND photoaging and is particularly relevant for the summer as it might help to serve as an additional form of protection for your skin against damaging ultraviolet rays, preserving collagen!

 

  • L rhamnosus also might protect the skin from UV damage from the inside out.  In mouse studies, oral ingestion appears protective of UV damage in skin.

 

  • L fermentum appears to have antioxidant properties, which is important for protecting the skin from free radical damage which can lead to signs of aging and skin cancer. It’s even shown promise in helping with severely dry skin. Antioxidant properties: L fermentum appears to help combat free radicals and oxidative stress in the body. Free radicals are like missiles that target and damage all parts of the skin, leading to inflammation and signs of aging. We’ve always thought of Vitamin C and Vitamin E as our first line of defense against free radical damage from UV rays, infrared heat, visible light or pollution. These studies, demonstrating that certain probiotics can actually have antioxidant properties, is groundbreaking. I can envision it being used to help slow down the development of fine lines, wrinkles, dilated pores, acne, and brown spots including melasma.  We now know that free radical damage plays a role in all of those conditions so having antioxidants on board both topically and through diet or supplementation is one of the most proactive and protective things you can do for your skin.  I’ve personally published on the link between oxidative stress and acne, and I recommend topical and oral antioxidants for all my acne patients. In laboratory studies, Lactobacillus fermentum showed antioxidant properties, and in human studies, it was shown to downregulate inflammatory markers (dec IL-6 and TNF alpha), as well as to improve the inflammatory skin condition atopic dermatitis (eczema).

 

  • Bifidobacterium longum, when applied TOPICALLY, might help with sensitive skin or skin that easily reacts with stinging or burning. Reduces sensitive skin (chemical and physical stressors). In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, subjects who applied the probiotic twice a day for two months saw increased skin resistance against physical (heat, cold, wind) and chemical aggressors (skin-care products), and a decrease in dryness after 29 days.  Some ex vivo lab studies suggest it can be good for rosacea, eczema, sensitive skin.

 

  • One study on Lactococcus lactis showed that oral administration improves skin health including elasticity of skin and hydration. Lactococcus lactis might help with wound healing, skin hydration and elasticity and even shows promise in preventing hair loss from the inside out.

 

  • Lactobacillus paracasei (topical) has been shown to inhibit Substance P (a pain-promoting neuropeptide) to regulate inflammation and oil production. Potential role in acne and rosacea patients.

 

  • Enterococcus faecalis SL-5 (topical) reduced study participants’ acne by 50 percent in eight weeks compared to subjects who used a probiotic-free placebo lotion.

 

  • Lactobacillus plantarum (topical) decreased the number and size of acne lesions as well as redness; may also help with rosacea flares.

 

  • Streptococcus salivarius (topical) secretes a bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance (BLIS) that reigns in the acne-causing bacteria, acnes.

 

  • Lactococcus sp. HY 449 (topical) produces an antimicrobial agent to control the growth of acnes and prevent inflammation and breakouts.

 

  • Streptococcus thermophilus (topical) increases the production of ceramides in the skin to counter moisture loss and irritation. Potential benefit for eczema/sensitive skin, dry skin.

 

  • Staphylococcus hominis and Staphylococcus epidermis (topical) can suppress the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, an infectious bacterial strain that drives the symptoms of eczema. So useful for atopic dermatitis/eczema/dry inflamed skin.

 

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (oral) was shown to reduce the odds of eczema in high-risk babies born to mothers who took the probiotic two to four weeks before giving birth, and then either continued taking it while breastfeeding, or added it to infant formula. So useful for eczema, dry skin, hydration.

 

  • Bacillus coagulans (topical and oral) produces free radical-scavenging chemicals, and increases the skin’s synthesis of moisturizing ceramides, to arrest sagging and wrinkles. Useful for any skin conditions linked to free radicals and oxidative stress (lentigos/brown spots, acne, fine lines/loss of collagen) and the ceramide production makes it beneficial for dry skin/eczema/hydration.

 

 

  • Lactobacillus paracasei (oral) has anti-inflammatory properties and helps strengthen the skin barrier to prevent moisture loss. Potential benefit in acne, rosacea, and eczema, sensitive skin and dry skin.

 

  • Lactobacillus johnsonii (oral) when taken in combination with 7.2 mg of carotenoids (plant-derived antioxidants) for 10 weeks before sun exposure, it protected skin’s Langerhans cells from UV damage, enabling them to better inhibit inflammation. The probiotic also helped subjects’ immune systems rebound faster after intense UV exposure.

 

I receive so many questions about which specific products and which BRANDS I recommend — which topicals and which oral supplements.  To get you started, I share some of my favorite topical probiotic products on my Picks page. Many more brands, both topical and oral (supplements) are currently in development and poised to launch in the near future. I am going to be releasing more information on these products very soon. I am currently personally testing and sampling a number of the newest products about to hit the market in this space and I am not going to prematurely make specific recommendations. Due diligence is very important to me! So, this information is coming very soon and check back frequently for more information on topical and oral probiotics with specific skin benefits!

 

Dr. Whitney

Retinol seems to be on everyone’s mind lately! I am getting so many questions about retinol in my office, from the press, and on social media so I wanted to share a quick Q & A in case these questions were also on your mind.

Q: What is Retinol?

Dr. Bowe: Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative which is often added to topical skincare products to promote skin renewal, brighten skin tone, reduce acne, and boost your skin’s collagen production. It also functions like an antioxidant to help address free radical damage which leads to visible signs of aging. Retinol is over the counter, so we are talking about the products you can buy in stores – this does not require a prescription.

Q: I’ve heard that retinol is going to make my skin inflamed and red and then peel. Is this true?

Dr. Bowe: I often recommend introducing retinol slowly into your skincare regimen (not every single night) and starting off with a low percentage (0.025%). Retinol can be very irritating if used too frequently or if the formulation is too strong for your skin. Overuse of retinol can cause flaking, redness, and burning, not to mention retinoid dermatitis, which means red scaly patches which sting and burn. There is some peeling associated with retinol use. I recently demonstrated the way I suggest that my patients apply retinol on Good Morning America to reduce inflammation and irritation.

Q: How should I prep my skin prior to makeup application when it’s peeling from retinol?

Dr. Bowe: I recommend gently exfoliating with a scrub or mask made for the face. Using one with sugar or salt is way too harsh for delicate facial skin. My Exfoliating Honey-Avocado-Yogurt Mask from The Beauty of Dirty Skin is a great one to try (p. 174):

Yogurt contains lactic acid which is a natural exfoliant. It also has soothing properties, which are so important when your skin is healing.  To make: mash together half a peeled and pitted avocado and 2 teaspoons of honey until the mixture is a paste. Add one small container of plain Greek yogurt and mix well. Apply to your face and leave on for up to 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and pat dry.

Then, apply a moisturizer and let it absorb. I would avoid toners, and don’t give into the urge to scrub with a harsh scrub, or peel at the skin!  Less is more during this fragile time. Probiotic products are especially helpful at promoting healing. I share links to a number of brands I like here.

When you apply makeup, you want to avoid anything with alcohols, and I’m a huge fan of mineral makeups for peeling skin.

Q: How long does it take a retinol to work?

Dr. Bowe: If you are using retinol to address wrinkles and signs of aging, studies show that you will start to see noticeable results in about six months. These results only continue to improve and are even more noticeable at approximately one year after use. Stay consistent with it and you will see results! Be patient!

Q: Can you make some specific product recommendations?

Dr. Bowe: dermalogica’s overnight retinol repair has been one of my favorites for a while. I included it on my Dr. Whitney’s Picks page because it’s so non-irritating and good for people with sensitive skin who are just starting to use a retinol. You can read more about it here.  If you are a seasoned retinol veteran, one of the new products on the market you might consider is Sunday Riley’s A+ High Dose Retinol Serum.

Dr. Whitney

You have probably heard that probiotics, the “good” live bacteria, helps keep your gut healthy. A considerable amount of research has also shown they can help support a healthy immune system, boost weight management and even improve your mental health. But one New York City dermatologist claims the “helpful” bacteria can even lead to clear, radiant skin.

“There’s ground breaking new science showing that the gut and the skin are intimately connected,” Dr. Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist and author of “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” told Fox News. “People don’t realize we have live bacteria covering our skin and swimming through our intestines and if we find a way to harness the power of these microscopic warriors we can do magnificent things with the skin. They can target things like acne, rosacea, eczema, premature aging, and skin cancer.”

In her book, Bowe describes how your gut’s microbial inhabitants, also referred to as your intestinal flora, are workhorses.

“They assist with digestion and the absorption of nutrients: you can’t nourish yourself effectively without them,” she said.

“Because gut bacteria can control certain immune cells and help manage the body’s inflammatory pathways, it is said that the gut (including its inhabitants) is akin to your immune system’s largest ‘organ.’ Gut bacteria may ultimately affect your risk of all manner of chronic afflictions…[including] dermatological issues,” she explained.

The global skin care products market is projected to reach $177 billion by 2024, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. Bowe said her patients often think they have to spend a fortune on expensive creams and procedures to get gorgeous skin, but realistically those avenues are like putting a Band-Aid on.

“They’re not getting to the root of the issue, if you want to get to the source of the problem you really have to think about what you’re eating, what your putting into your body and the health of your gut. An inflamed gut shows up as inflammation of the skin,” she said.

To start introducing probiotics into your life, begin adding certain foods and beverages, a daily probiotic supplement and then skin care products if you want to target a specific skin issue, Bowe said.

“When it comes to your diet you want to start incorporating foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, sipping on some kombucha, that’s a fermented tea,” Bowe said. “If you’re somebody who likes to use say protein powder in your shake or smoothie, you want to look for the words ‘fermented’ on the label.”

For a daily supplement, Bowe warns that starting with a high dosage could lead to uncomfortable gas if you introduce too many probiotics at once. Aim for 10 to 15 billion CFU each daily, Bowe recommended.

Since your gut contains trillions of bacteria, there are different bacteria strains that can address specific health issues. You can look for supplements that contain certain bacterial strains that are good for acne or other conditions like eczema, but Bowe’s believes diversity is key.

“We know that the more strains we incurporate in both our diet and in our skin care, the better,” she said.

Skin products are also finding their way into the probiotic industry. While research on topical probiotics is still in its infancy stage, Bowe has been testing and vetting such products to find out which ones really work.

“Using a probiotic topical not only provides a protective shield, preventing harmful bugs in your environment from taking hold and causing infection, but also triggers the production of natural moisturizers in the skin, keeping the skin barrier healthy,” she said.

Most people think about probiotics in the context of gut health and digestion, but promising new studies show they might play a role not only in our overall health, but also in the health of our skin. I shared my thoughts and insights on Good Morning America!

I have also gotten so many inquiries about the type of products discussed today, I wanted to include links so that this information was easy to find!

Probiotics:

https://us.genuinehealth.com/shop/advanced-gut-health/

Fermented vegan proteins:

https://us.genuinehealth.com/product/fermented-vegan-proteins/

Your skincare routine and product choices all contribute to whether your skin is irritated, inflamed, or prematurely aging on the one hand or glowing, healthy, smooth, and hydrated on the other. At the heart of The Beauty of Dirty Skin is the science that healing and nourishing our skin’s “microbiome” is critical to sustain healthy, glowing skin. There are more than one trillion bacteria in the skin, originating from approximately one thousand different species. Our antiseptic cleansing styles and obsession with antibacterial soaps and cleansers have stripped our skin of its healthy bacteria. If your skin’s healthy microbiome is disrupted by harsh cleansers and other abrasive skincare products, this discontent results in breakouts, rosacea flares, psoriasis, eczema, and even sensitive skin. In sharp contrast, when your good bugs are healthy, your skin is, in turn, healthy and radiant. That’s because these essential bugs fight infections, combat against environmental damage, boost our immune system, and keep our skin hydrated and radiant. Even better, the results are lasting. When your skin flora is restored, its health is sustainable.

Since “gut health” became the buzzphrase of the wellness world, it feels like everyone is taking probiotic supplements. There are a lot of pills on the shelves, teeming with live bacteria, each designed to fill a specific need or lifestyle. So yeah, we have questions. Are refrigerated probiotic supplements better? Do specific strains matter? And can’t we just drink more kombucha and be done with it? We turned to Probiogen research microbiologist Kiran Krishnan, Dr. Whitney Bowe, author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin, and Dr. Vincent Pedre, author of Happy Gut, to get some answers.

As I discuss in The Beauty of Dirty Skin, in order to have healthy, radiant skin, we have to keep our natural warrior bugs healthy. I’ve frequently discussed the concept of our healthy skin barrier and “microbiome” — which is the invisible rainforest of microorganisms, primarily bacteria, that are coating your skin right now. So, I know it won’t come as a surprise at this point when I tell you that the health and appearance of our skin is impacted by the health and diversity of our “good bugs.” The question now becomes, how to we keep our good bugs, a.k.a. our skin microbiome, healthy so that our skin is radiant?
I’ve often referred to the term “probiotic”, which refers to the live bugs, or live bacteria. Now, we are starting to focus on an important related term – “prebiotic” – which refers to the food the good bugs like to eat! I actually think the strongest skin-care products emerging on the market will likely be those made with prebiotics.

As I mention above, prebiotics are like the nourishing food that naturally allows healthy, good bacteria to thrive on your skin. Some prebiotics encourage specific healthy strains of bacteria to grow, and others increase the diversity of the bacteria on your skin, which is also very important. When you remove your skin’s healthy bacterial diversity – the rainforest of microorganisms that should be thriving on your skin — that’s when you see problems like rosacea, acne, fine lines, and discoloration. To put it simply, probiotics contain the good guys, and prebiotics contain what the good guys like to consume to ensure their own survival and proliferation.

One of my favorite products in this space is Aleavia’s Restore Soothing Mist. Made with organic coconut oil, Acadian sea kelp – included in this formulation for its prebiotic properties — citric acid and aloe vera, this mist soothes and hydrates your skin with prebiotics that help to bring your skin’s natural barrier into balance. I apply it to the dry or inflamed areas on my skin following my shower. If my skin is extra dry or inflamed, I’ll then use a moisturizer on top for an added layer of hydration. If I’m heading to the beach, I give it a few minutes to absorb and then I apply sunscreen on top. It’s very light and refreshing, feels very soothing and Aleavia has done quite a bit of testing of this product to ensure its efficacy, which is very important to me in making a recommendation to you.

Ideal for the following skin conditions: dry, itchy, irritated skin.

Made with: Filtered Water, Coconut Oil, Acadian Sea Kelp, Citric Acid, Soy Lecithin, Aloe Vera; Certified Organic, 100 percent pure plant-based ingredients; Vegan.

Made without: Free of synthetic fragrance and dyes, chemical and paraben free. I do not find that this product has a scent.

You probably have heard about leaky gut. Here’s a quick explanation of that term. When our intestinal lining is working properly, it forms a tight barrier which controls what is absorbed into our bloodstream. However, a compromised gut lining allows toxins, undigested food particles, and bad bacteria to “leak” out of your intestines and to then travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. Your immune system marks these foreign substances as threats and therefore attacks them. This, in turn, gives rise to many substantial health issues.

But, did you know that you can also have leaky skin? When your skin microbiome is off balance, meaning that the healthy balance of good bacteria on your skin is not intact, this can compromise your skin’s natural barrier. This leads to inflammation which in turn results in chronic skin conditions like acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. How are we contributing to this issue and what can we do to prevent leaky skin? Check out this video and to learn more, be sure to order The Beauty of Dirty Skin, your guide to healthy, radiant skin.

This is one of my favorite topics because it is transforming medicine today! In my video, America is Redefining Clean, I explained that you will be seeing more and more skincare products on the market that protect your skin’s healthy barrier and microbiome. What does this mean? Your skin’s “microbiome” is a beautiful rainforest of diverse organisms (bacteria, fungi and viruses) which live in and on your skin’s various layers, from the deep-down fat cushion all the way up to your epidermal cells on high. Did you know that there are more than one trillion bacteria in the skin, originating from approximately one thousand different species!

How is America redefining clean? The skincare industry is recognizing that clean and healthy skin means supporting and nurturing the diverse array of good bacteria on our skin! Their research and development departments (R & D) are re-examining product formulations to consider their impact on our skin microbiome. What can you expect to see on the market in the next 6 months? Check this video out to find out! And, to learn more, click here: https://drwhitneybowe.com/beauty-of-dirty-skin-book/.

@DrWhitneyBowe

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