Benefits of prebiotics and probiotics for skin

Q: What are the benefits of prebiotics and probiotics for skin? 

To maintain a healthy-looking complexion, the most important thing is to protect and respect the skin’s delicate eco system and ensure it has a good barrier function.

A prebiotic is a substance that can enhance populations of beneficial microflora (bacteria present in the large intestine). It is effectively a fertiliser or food source for microbes, selectively stimulating the growth and/or metabolic activity of specific bacteria. In contrast, probiotics are live bacteria.

In simple terms, prebiotics are the food that feed live probiotics so they flourish on the surface of the skin. A carefully cleansed and healthy skin surface is essential to keep skin in good condition.

Prebiotics are sourced from all vegetables and plants, obtained from the natural sugars sucrose and maltose. They have been shown in-vitro to stimulate the growth of beneficial resident flora, to help useful bacteria compete with the detrimental bacteria, making it harder for them to become problematic.

A prebiotic’s bio selectivity as a substrate means that it has potential as an agent to protect the skin’s ecosystem and could assist in keeping it constant or restore the balance to a normal, steady and healthy state.

Nicci Anstey Nicci Anstey is global training and education director for British skincare brand Elemis and works with the company’s co-founder Noella Gabriel on treatment and product development.

Check out our feature on gut health and how it impacts skin