We're still in the middle of the winter season, which means freezing temperatures, harsh winds, blasting heat, and an ongoing battle with dry skin. As the temperatures continue to drop, the humidity in the air also decreases. The lack of moisture and the constant change from a hot to cold environment takes a serious toll on your skin. Tightness, redness, flaking, itchiness—we've all been there. Now is the time to call in the reinforcements and get back our healthy glow.Probiotics 101
One of the best ways to defeat dry, stressed-out skin is by working probiotics into our skin care routine and diet. We have both "good" and "bad" bacteria in and on our bodies. Probiotics are the "good" kind that help maintain total body wellness, including keeping the gut healthy and improving our skin health.
One of the best ways to defeat dry skin is by working probiotics into our everyday skin care routine. Just as oral probiotics help balance the microflora in our digestive system, scientific studies have shown that applying topical probiotics can be hugely beneficial too.
Surprised? Here's how it works.
We have both "good" and "bad" bacteria in and on our bodies. Probiotics are the "good" kind that help maintain total body wellness, including keeping the gut healthy and improving our skin health. One of the ways probiotics repair and moisturize our skin is by helping produce hyaluronic acid (HA), which is a natural substance our body produces and is a major contributor to the elasticity, tightness, and strength of our skin.
Benefits from bacteria
When the production of HA increases, our skin becomes more hydrated. In addition to preventing the loss of hydration, probiotics strengthen our skin so that it can act as a physical barrier to the negative effects of winter by keeping out pathogens, bad bacteria, pollution, and other toxins. This ALSO helps keep hydration in our skin so it doesn't evaporate. All of these benefits from probiotics will reduce the inflammation and redness that appear as a result of dry winter skin.
So now that we know all about the advantages of probiotics, what's the next step? Probiotics come in all shapes and sizes and are made up of different "breeds" or strains, each of which can have a special benefit for the skin. Here are four strains that benefit every single skin type:
When used topically, this strain has been shown to help with cell turnover and smoothness. It can help exfoliate the skin, which is especially critical in dry weather to prevent dry skin build-up. A kefir mask for your face will help recover and regulate the acid/alkaline balance in the skin cells of the face (due to the lactococcus ferment). Additionally, kefir contains alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA), a form of lactic acid that balances our body's pH levels, thus helping to reduce wrinkles and slow the aging process. Lactobacilli in a kefir face mask perfectly cleans the skin from harmful substances and dust, thus adding freshness and elasticity. Try Wallaby Organic's Plain Kefir ($4.99) and while you have it on as a mask, drink it!
When taken orally, certain strains of Lactobacillus have been shown to help with moisture retention, which helps with both dryness and fine lines and wrinkles. You can up your probiotic intake by eating probiotic-rich foods like probiotic-fortified yogurt, kimchi, or miso soup (great for this cold weather!). You can also take supplements like Culturelle Daily Probiotic Formula ($20.54).
This strain has been shown to help strengthen our natural skin barrier, which again helps your skin retain moisture and keep out toxins, pathogens, bad bacteria, and pollution. When your skin is dried out, it's less resilient to the environment, which can make it even more irritated and inflamed. TULA's Hydrating Day and Night Cream ($52) is a powerful multitasking moisturizer that offers an easy way to work this strain into your regime.
Studies have shown that this strain has strong immunity properties. It can be used both orally and topically. Drinks like Suja Organic & Cold-Pressed Vegetable and Fruit Juice ($6.99) and Goodbelly Blueberry Acai Probiotic Juice ($3.99) include this strain, as does Purely Elizabeth's Probiotic Maple Walnut Granola ($5.71). The strain can also be used topically to help with hydration and elasticity of the skin, which makes it ideal for dehydrated, stressed, or sensitive skin. We use it in TULA's Overnight Rescue Treatment ($85), which can be used at night to help restore moisture that evaporates as we sleep.