Probiotics: good bacteria with superpowers
You’ve probably heard about probiotics. You know that it’s something that can be found in yogurt, and that it’s good for your gut and digestion. Maybe you’ve also noticed that it’s a word that keeps popping up in more and more places.
For example in skincare.
But what is it actually? Why is it beneficial? And why should you apply it to your skin?
We’ll dig into all of it here, in the blog.
For many years the words “good” or “helpful” were rarely used to describe the word “bacteria”. Bacteria was rather referred to as the source of illnesses, and something that should be killed and avoided at any cost.
Today we know better.
For instance, more than half of the cells of your body are bade up of bacteria. So, without realizing it, your very existence relies on them. The vast majority of them are not just harmless, but in many cases, absolutely essential for your health and wellbeing.
However, it can happen that the bacterial balance of your body’s ecosystem gets disturbed, which allows pathogenic (harmful) bacteria to get the upper hand and cause issues.
The balance of bacteria can be disturbed by a variety of factors, including air pollution, significant temperature changes, an unhealthy diet, medications or chemicals from consumer products that most of us would not think twice about, before using. In other words, many of the things that make up a normal occurrence in our modern lifestyle.
All of the above can lead to physical discomfort or in some cases illnesses of the skin—and that’s where BAK skincare can help.
The word probiotics comes from ”pro”=”for” and ”biotic”=”life”. So, in other words, probiotics means something that is alive and good for life.
Probiotics are living micro-organisms, such as bacteria, that have a beneficial effect on our health. Probiotic bacteria are often lactic acid bacteria, and this is the very kind that you’ll find in BAK’s probiotic skincare.
Probiotic bacteria are good. But do you really know how good?
We don’t call probiotic bacteria for microscopic “superheroes” for nothing. We have good reason to:
Firstly, good bacteria create competition for the bad bacteria by taking up space in your gut, or in the case of skincare, on the skin. This leads to bad bacteria losing the upper upper hand, and become so few that they won’t cause issues anymore.
Secondly, the good bacteria break down fibers, a.k.a prebiotics, and this is one of the reasons why they’re good for your digestion. As long as the bacteria are alive, they are creating beneficial substances such as vitamins and organic acids that regulate the pH-level of your skin. Even more amazingly, the good bacteria create the building blocks of collagen and other essential components for skin cells. This has the effect of increasing cell growth in the skin, making it thicker and more elastic.
Moreover, probiotic bacteria produce sphingomyelinase (SMase), which is known to improve the skin’s barrier function and elasticity by stimulating the production of lipids present in the surface of skin cells. An increase in lipid levels is key for increasing the skin’s ability to retain moisture and stop if from becoming dry.
All of the above, can help to combat signs of skin irritation like breakouts, itchiness and redness, as well as contributing to the skin’s general health and preventing premature aging of the skin.
A too high pH level in the skin will reduce lipid levels, weaken the barrier function, and increase aging of the skin.
Hopefully now it’s clear that much of the effect you get from probiotic skincare is thanks to the fact that the bacteria are still alive.
Being alive is so critical because it means that the bacteria are continuously creating metabolites (that create lactic acid and other good things), and communicating with other bacteria. For those of us who aren’t microbiologists, it means that the probiotics can tell the pathogenic bacteria to pack up and leave.
Live bacteria can constantly react and adapt to their surroundings and can signal changes.
That’s why it’s a good idea to use probiotic skincare with live bacteria to tackle skin issues (spots, redness, dry and itchy skin) that often stem from a bacterial imbalance in the microbiome.
Dead bacteria can also deliver benefits for your skin, and normally go under the name “postbiotics” or “ferment lysate”.
Postbiotic skincare is more comparable to ”traditional” skincare in the sense that it’s packed full of good stuff, but it’s not actively creating more of it. We’ll come back to postbiotics, and how they work, in a later blogpost.