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.