I’m so excited to share this incredibly relevant and high yield conversation with Dr. Peter Lio. If you are wondering if you should avoid gluten in your diet and/or skincare, pondering which petroleum alternatives are best for dry skin, or how ingredients like honey and oatmeal affect skin health and our skin microbiome, this is a must read!

[More about Dr. Lio: he is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology & Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, completed his internship in Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, and his Dermatology training at Harvard. While at Harvard, he received formal training in acupuncture. He is a world renowned expert in eczema and alternative medicine. He is also the co-editor of what I think will become a bible for dermatologists who are interested in a holistic and comprehensive approach to the skin, Integrative Dermatology: Practical Applications in Acne and Rosacea. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy and can’t wait to get it in my hands!]

Q & A: 

Dr. Bowe: Many people are trying to avoid gluten in their diets as well as their skincare. We often see “gluten free” on food labels as well as skincare labels.  What is your take on whether people should avoid gluten in foods/how do you know if you should avoid it?

Dr. Lio: Gluten has been soundly vilified in the past few years, but I’m not sure it’s totally deserving of all of the hate. Clearly for people that have celiac disease it is essential to totally avoid it; outside of this select group, things get a little more confusing. My feeling is that some people really do have a sensitivity to gluten that doesn’t necessarily show up on testing, and for others it may be that simple carbohydrates and refined sugars in foods are causing their issues, but that they are so closely associated with gluten in a modern diet that people really do improve by throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak. I do think that diets that avoid gluten (and grains in general) tend to be healthier since they usually focus more on greens and vegetables–it is hard to argue with that! However, as a fan of baking breads and a lover of pizza, I’d like to think that gluten-containing foods can be healthy and well-tolerated for many, especially when prepared in a wholesome way and eaten in moderation.

Dr. Bowe: How important do you think it is to avoid gluten in skincare for most people/how do you know if you should avoid it?

Dr. Lio: In skincare, I think it is even more confusing. Perhaps even for those with celiac disease, my sense is that as a large protein there is probably little or no absorption of gluten through the skin, so I’m not sure making a “gluten-free” claim has much real meaning outside of “sounding” healthier. To be honest, though, the vast majority of skin care products that I am aware of have never had gluten in the first place, so it’s a little disingenuous, sort of like advertising “gluten free apples.”

Dr. Bowe: Oatmeal has been shown to be very beneficial for dry, itchy, eczema prone skin.  Can a moisturizer containing oatmeal be used in someone who believes they are sensitive to gluten?

Dr. Lio: I think the answer is yes for most patients. While there are patients with true allergy to oat and they must totally avoid oatmeal-containing products, it turns out that pure oats do not contain gluten at all, but during harvesting and transportation, sometimes gluten can be introduced. Because of this, many companies have switched to using certified gluten-free oats for skin products, and I think this is a good thing since oatmeal can be helpful in a variety of products, especially as you say, for dry and itch skin.

Dr. Bowe: We’re well aware that natural is NOT always better, and not all natural ingredients are inherently safe for the skin. However, from what I have read and experience with my patients, honey has been reported to have a number of benefits and appears to be very safe for use on skin. What are your thoughts about the use of honey in skincare and in your diet when it comes to skin benefits?

Dr. Lio:

Honey in skincare:

Honey is pretty amazing stuff! There is reasonably good evidence for using honey in wound healing and burn treatment, and even some evidence for treating acne and rosacea. It has some powerful antibacterial properties and is very soothing for the skin. However, all honeys are not the same. Certain honeys such as Manuka and Kanuka have robust literature on their healing properties, and Manuka even has a special rating called a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) that helps quantify its quality. As you might imagine, the higher UMF honeys (greater than 20, for example) can be prohibitively expensive. Additionally, honey is tough to work with: it’s sticky and thick, making it difficult to leave on the skin during the day or even overnight, so that can be limiting as well.

Honey in diet:

I think that having some honey in the diet can be healthy. Honey has a lower glycemic index than sugar, but still contains sugars. I have seen evidence that honey is likely better than agave nectar as a sugar alternative, especially because of its other health benefits. However, it is something to use sparingly, I think, since sugary foods seem to fuel inflammation for a lot of my patients.

Dr. Bowe: Honey, especially manuka honey, is known for its antibacterial properties.  Now that we know how critical a healthy, diverse skin microbiome is, how do you reconcile use of an antibacterial ingredient in a disease where bacterial diversity and health is so critical?

Dr. Lio: I think this is the kind of question that we are really struggling with right now. It seems that our over-simplified understanding of “bacteria” as a monolithic pathogen has led to using sledge-hammers like antibiotics for lots of conditions without really taking the complexity of the microbiome into consideration. My sense is that in disease there is imbalance. Sometimes, even shaking things up in a very inelegant way can allow for the balance to return. Many are now too young to remember this, but when we were growing up, we had an old Cathode Ray Tube television. Sometimes the picture would blink and flash… and we’d give it a firm whack on the side and voila–it would work again! This to me is an analogy of why relatively crude approaches seem to help sometimes, especially when we take into account more natural products that have subtleties that we cannot always fully appreciate.

Dr. Bowe: While I don’t love coconut oil for acne prone areas such as the face, chest and back, I do find that it can be very hydrating and calming in my patients who are not acne prone, but do suffer from very dry skin.  Coconut oil is also known for its antibacterial properties.  How do you address concerns that ingredient like coconut oil might be damaging our microbiome, or decrease diversity of our microbiome?

Dr. Lio: I would say that, as we discussed with honey, natural antimicrobials tend to be much more subtle and nuanced than medical-grade antiseptics, disinfectants, and antibiotics. Coconut oil does seem to be antimicrobial (perhaps due to the monolaurin), but also has supportive elements that can strengthen the skin barrier and, in turn, the microbiome, such as medium-chain fatty acids. I think we have a lot more to learn about this, but it does seem to be gentle enough to use in both dry, irritated skin but also on healthy skin, and that suggests that it is not knocking things out of balance for most people. In atopic dermatitis we often see staphylococcus aureus bacteria start to dominate and, accordingly, diversity of the microbiome suffers. Application of coconut oil in this scenario led to a 95% decrease in staphylococcus aureus, suggesting that diversity was restored.* But we really do need more research here.

*Ref: Verallo-Rowell VM, Dillague KM, Syah-Tjundawan BS. Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2008 Nov 1;19(6):308-15.

Dr. Bowe: Skin hydration is so important in people who suffer from eczema.  What are your favorite ingredients to look for in moisturizers, especially if someone is looking for petroleum-free ingredients. One of my favorites is sunflower seed oil.  Curious what you think about that ingredient or any others you like to recommend for your patients who suffer from eczema?

Dr. Lio: I am a big fan of sunflower seed oil as well—there is evidence that it calms inflammation, helps heal the skin barrier, and even stimulates the production of natural ceramide fats in the skin, all of which are fantastic for patients with eczema.

We mentioned coconut oil above for its ability to decrease staph bacteria in eczema, but it turns out that it is an excellent moisturizer as well, and outperformed a petroleum product (mineral oil) in a head-to-head study.*

I’ve been very interested in a plant called Cardiospermum halicacabum which has some very interesting anti-inflammatory properties** and I have worked with a small company to get a very natural moisturizer that features this ingredient as well.

*Ref: Agero AL, Verallo-Rowell VM. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermatitis. 2004 Sep 1;15(3):109-16.

**Ref: Fai D, Fai C, Di Vito M, Martini C, Zilio G, De Togni H. Cardiospermum halicacabum in atopic dermatitis: clinical evidence based on phytotherapic approach. Dermatologic Therapy. 2020 Nov 10:e14519.

 Dr. Bowe: Are any salts, minerals or vitamins especially helpful when applied topically?

 Dr. Lio: Topical vitamin B12 seems to help with eczema. I actually developed a version of this after reading a very compelling study* but not being able to find a commercial version available, and that has been helpful for some of my patients. We call it “Pink Magic” because the B12 powder is dark crimson and when mixed with the shea butter base, it makes a lovely pink color!

Zinc oxide, best known as the base of many diaper pastes, is incredibly gentle and soothing for damaged or open skin. It is probably underutilized because it is so thick and pasty, but I often use it as part of cooling wraps for patients with open areas of skin, and this wrap (known as the Unna Boot) has tremendous healing properties.

*Ref: Stücker M, Pieck C, Stoerb C, Niedner R, Hartung J, Altmeyer P. Topical vitamin B12—a new therapeutic approach in atopic dermatitis—evaluation of efficacy and tolerability in a randomized placebo‐controlled multicentre clinical trial. British Journal of Dermatology. 2004 May;150(5):977-83.

Dr. Bowe: Any salts (electrolyes), minerals or vitamins you suggest getting in your diet to improve skin hydration or skin health?

Dr. Lio: I am an avid proponent of vitamin D supplementation for all my patients with atopic dermatitis. There is a little bit of controversy around this, but I truly think that there is a group for whom it makes a big difference. The problem is, I can’t predict who will be in that group! So I think it’s reasonable (especially here in cold, gray Chicago) to have folks supplement with vitamin D—I certainly do so myself.

It’s not quite a vitamin, but probiotics also have a fascinating body of evidence in atopic dermatitis. Like vitamin D, I think there really are some patients who do better on them, although we are in the early days of understanding which strains, the dosage, the frequency, etc. Right now, I like a probiotic mix that contains Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus fermentum as these have the some of the best evidence in atopic dermatitis.*

*Ref: Wang IJ, Wang JY. Children with atopic dermatitis show clinical improvement after Lactobacillus exposure. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. 2015 Apr;45(4):779-87.

Dr. Bowe: What nutritional advice do you give patients suffering from very dry skin who wish to hydrate from the inside out?

Dr. Lio: There is an interesting literature about an amino acid supplement L-histidine (not to be confused with “histamine”). I do recommend this for some patients as it seems to be able to help restore the skin barrier and seems very safe and inexpensive. The dose for adults is 4 grams per day, and it is widely available in health food stores as a powder.

Dr. Bowe: Fragrance, especially natural fragrances like essential oils, is such a confusing topic. What do you tell patients when it comes to fragrance in skincare: what to look for vs what to avoid?

Dr. Lio: Here I am pretty firm: I prefer no fragrances whatsoever for my sensitive skin patients and especially for those with eczema/atopic dermatitis. The reason is that even potentially helpful natural fragrances, especially in these more sensitive folks, can become allergens over time, sensitizing them to these products. Ideally, we want products that have been designed for and tested in atopic dermatitis patients.  We want as few ingredients as possible, and there is a long list of things we specifically want to avoid. A great resource can be found at The National Eczema Association website.

Disclosure: I’m a board member and a Scientific Advisory Committee member, but I only donate to the NEA I do not make any money from them. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of patients with eczema.

Dr. Bowe: Vit E: are there skin benefits to using it topically?  What about via supplementation?

Dr. Lio: To my knowledge, there is no good data about topical vitamin E in eczema, but there was a neat study showing that 400 IU of vitamin E daily improved eczema symptoms and signs better than a placebo at 4 months.* This is a very reasonable supplement to add for those with eczema, I think.

*Ref: Jaffary F, Faghihi G, Mokhtarian A, Hosseini SM. Effects of oral vitamin E on treatment of atopic dermatitis: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. 2015 Nov;20(11):1053.

Dr. Bowe: Some prebiotics, like inulin, are made of sugars linked together?  We know sugar is not good in your diet, but could sugar on the skin be a good thing for your microbiome? 

Dr. Lio: Yes, I think that the concept of prebiotics and synbiotics (prebiotics + probiotics) are very compelling topically applied to the skin. In fact, I’m currently an investigator for a new topical probiotic spray that seems very promising. I think that sugars on the skin have a very different effect than those in the diet since they can directly feed the bacteria there and are likely not absorbed into the body. This question has actually come up because of “sugar scrubs”: I had a patient with diabetes who wanted to try them, but was concerned. So long as there are not actual cuts or abrasions, the sugar is not absorbed and it is safe.

I hope you found this discussion as eye opening as I did!  For more of Peter Lio’s tips and expertise, be sure to follow him on:

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoEczema

And on Twitter too: @ChiEczema

Hope you enjoyed this exciting and truly informative Q & A.

Dr. Whitney

 

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!

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