Bacteria May Be The Secret To Clear Skin

When you were younger and experiencing your first breakout, your parents probably told you that any kind of bacteria on your face is bad, bad, bad. This conversation likely concluded with them handing you a tube of face wash and telling you to go to town.

But, and sorry if this grosses you out, we have bacteria living all over our bodies — and not all of it is problematic. In fact, slapping on a layer of "good" bacteria-infused cream can be a game-changer for your skin. We're talking about probiotics, and although, yes, they're also used in yogurt, these versions aren't meant to be ingested.

"Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are naturally found in the human digestive system," says board-certified dermatologist Ted Lain, MD. "When applied topically, probiotic bacteria work just like they do in the gut — by preventing the overgrowth of 'bad' bacteria," says board-certified dermatologist Lotika Singh, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology. "Probiotics have antimicrobial properties in that they produce substances that can help kill off harmful bacteria."

In practical terms, probiotics ward off infections, allow for faster healing, and reduce redness and inflammation by eliminating some of the bacteria that cause these issues. (If you suffer from acne or rosacea, consider signing up.) "They [also] help support and maintain the natural skin barrier," says Dendy Engelman, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. "This helps the skin to function optimally [because] a healthy skin exterior helps protect against transepidermal water loss." (A.k.a., dry, cracked, winter skin.)

Interested? We rounded up six of our favorite probiotic-packed products, ahead.
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This pore-purging mask contains actual yogurt, along with cucumber, shea butter, kaolin clay, and tea-tree oil to calm and clear skin. Unlike many other acne-fighting masks, this one leaves the skin feeling soft and clean — not dry and tight.
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We're big fans of this redness-neutralizing foundation — and, it turns out, Dr. Singh is too. It takes advantage of probiotics' anti-inflammatory properties, using them to eliminate redness and irritation. Seriously, this stuff evens out our complexion in seconds.
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Dr. Engelman describes this serum as "incredible." (Quite an endorsement, no?) Not only does it contain probiotics, but it helps boost the performance of the products you layer over it, she says.
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This moisturizer uses lactobacillus, a common probiotic found in skin care. The result is a gentle, but super-hydrating formula that feels luxurious and cooling upon application.
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If you're looking for a gentle, but effective cleanser that won't dry out your skin, this is it. We've been using the silky cream for the past few weeks, and already know it'll be a savior when the temperatures start to plummet.
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This lightweight cream is infused with probiotics; rice proteins; and vitamins A, C, and E to keep the skin plump and hydrated — even when it's freezing outside. It also layers wonderfully under makeup. (Plus, Dr. Lain swears by it.)
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