Let's Talk Probiotics, Prebiotics & Postbiotics in Skincare

Let's Talk Probiotics, Prebiotics & Postbiotics in Skincare

Author: AJ Addae Photography: MULTI ArchivesDate:

Did you know that probably 99% of skincare products you’ll see that are called “probiotic” products, are actually postbiotic or prebiotic products? Did you know that there was a difference? These are burning, hot-button questions from our audience that we believe deserve answers. Let’s dive in!

Understanding the Basics

The microbiome skincare space is an emerging pillar of the industry touting promising efficacy based on formulation strategy catering to the skin’s microbiome. As we know, the skin microbiome is your own unique world of tiny microorganisms and microflora that dictates your skin’s typical behaviors.

For example, clinical data has commonly shown that skin that leans more irritated, inflamed, or acne-prone tends to have more inflammatory bacteria on the surface, rather than commensal (good) bacteria. This means that your skin’s microbiome essentially acts as your skin’s immune system, since maintaining a balance of commensal bacteria can yield more favorable skin behavior, while increased colonization of pathogenic (bad) bacteria can yield some unfavorable skin behavior.

This is where microbiome skincare terminology comes in. Here’s a quick summary:

- Probiotic: Live bacteria and/or yeast.

- Prebiotic: A non-living “fertilizer” that helps feed and increase the presence of good bacteria. Examples: Yogurt, inulin

- Postbiotic: Non-living secretions or byproducts from other bacterias that can help further provide nutrients to the good bacteria on the skin. Examples: Lactobacillus ferments, and other fermented ingredients

The Key Differences

The main difference between a probiotic and the others is that a probiotic is actually living bacteria or yeast, while the others essentially behave as food for your skin’s good bacteria. The main difference between a postbiotic and a prebiotic is that a postbiotic is a byproduct or secretion from actual live bacteria, while a prebiotic is typically a fiber or a sugar that can help feed good bacteria.

This means that a lot of your favorite microbiome skincare products that contain ingredients like lactobacillus ferments, are actually postbiotic skincare products, not probiotic skincare products. In fact, you’ll find the most amount of probiotics in the supplement aisle, because it’s a lot easier to place live probiotic cultures in capsules than in a cosmetic formula. 

The Main Takeaway

Overall, while all this information can feel overwhelming, the main takeaway should be that you have your own amazing, unique little composition of bacteria on your skin and in your gut that deserve its own unique care. This is why figuring out a personal skincare routine can be such a long road, especially since your body changes so much. However, empowering you with the education necessary to make your own informed choices on wellness is our jam, so we hope you found this helpful!

For more information on skin and gut health, postbiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics, check out our Multidex!