By Lindsay Cohn
You already know the importance of gut health, and that a great way to boost yours is by consuming plenty of probiotic-rich, fermented foods and drinks, like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and apple cider vinegar. You may already be up on prebiotics too, a specific type of carb that our bodies can’t digest, which fuels those all-important probiotics.
Along with aiding digestion, both pre- and probiotics play a crucial role in overall health, helping you maintain a strong immune system and, as it turns out, even a radiant complexion. Your body’s largest organ is a complex ecosystem just like your gut that is home to trillions of microbes that form a protective layer against disease, infection and environmental damage. But this shield can be compromised by things like oral antibiotics, environmental pollution, synthetic chemicals and preservatives, all of which can throw off skin flora.
The solution? Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and author of Skin Rules, recommends applying probiotics topically, in addition to ingesting them. Studies show that topical pre- and probiotics boost the good bacteria, which in turn helps balance pH levels, fights inflammation (think: acne), stimulates cellular repair and strengthens the skin’s barrier.
No wonder the trend of lacto-fermented skincare is growing in popularity. “The process of fermentation makes nutrients more bioavailable for the skin to use. I love the fact that lacto-fermentation is a completely natural biological process, too,” says Carla Oates, known as The Beauty Chef, who uses fermented ingredients in her line of beauty products.
“I suggest looking on the ingredients list for Lactobacillus, a lactic acid bacteria that stabilizes active ingredients, improves cell renewal and encourages skin healing,” says Dr. Jaliman.
Along with buying pre- and probiotic-rich beauty products, you can also make your own, using common ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Here are some of our favorites:
Manuka, Apple Cider Vinegar & Dandelion Face Tonic: This hybrid mask and toner is good for balancing skin’s pH, especially those who have oily skin or acne.
Coconut Kefir & Lavender Body Mask: This works best for moisturizing skin—particularly before bed, thanks to lavender’s relaxation-promoting powers.
Coconut Lavender Hydration Mist: Perfect for when skin is feeling parched and irritated—it’s a savior for long-haul flights.
Greek Yogurt, Banana & Apple Cider Vinegar Face Mask (recipe below): Terrific for banishing breakouts and calming troubled complexions.
Bio: Lindsay Cohn is a wellness writer, yogi and essential oil enthusiast. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
- 1/2 unripe banana
- 3-4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons raw, organic apple cider vinegar
- In a small bowl, mash up the banana. Add the yogurt and apple cider vinegar and mix until combined.
- After cleansing face, use a cotton ball to apply mixture to face. Let mask sit for 10 minutes.
- Rinse with lukewarm water, finish with a splash of cool water and pat face dry with a towel.