Net-a-Porter now offers 12 brands of ingestible probiotics for skin, up from one, and Newby Hands, the beauty director at the company, said via email that it’s one of its fastest growing categories, with double-digit growth each year.
“In London and Los Angeles we are seeing that some supplements are outselling serums and other formerly top-selling products,” Ms. Hands said.
So, Can I Just Swallow a Supplement?
Unfortunately, cleaning up your gut (and your skin) isn’t as simple as swallowing a probiotic. Not yet, anyway.
There are small studies associating certain strains of bacteria with acne reduction, skin hydration and elasticity. For example, one called lactobacillus casei subsp. casei 327 (or L. K-1 for short) seems to improve the skin barrier and reduce flakiness, according to a 2017 Japanese study. Another strain, lactobacillus rhamnosus SP1, has been linked to a reduction in adult acne, reported in a 2016 study.
So why can’t you simply swallow the strains in pill form and watch them automatically take effect?
First, it’s not even well established that a strong stomach, bacterially speaking, is the secret to clear skin. We don’t know precisely what the mechanistic connections are between the gut microbiome and the skin, said Justin Sonnenburg, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, who studies gut microbiota.
It is certainly true that what happens in the gut isn’t confined to the gut, he said — that it’s part of the integrated system that is you. Your gastrointestinal micro-organisms affect metabolism, immune response, stress. Change something in the gut microbiome — diet is one of the most powerful levers for that — and the effects ripple outward, potentially to the skin.