Probiotics for acne: 5 science-backed brands

Acne is a common skin condition that affects many. In fact, ~650 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from acne. Having battled acne and rosacea most of my adult life, I’m all too familiar with the constant search for treatments that actually work. As a medical microbiologist, one growing area of particular interest is the use of probiotics for acne.

Science-backed brands that are top of my list of probiotics for skin include:

  • Microbiome Labs SereneSkin™ 
  • Gallinée Clear & Microbiome Supplement
  • Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Platinum Series Skin+
  • Codeage Skin Probiotic+
  • HUM Skin Squad Pre+Probiotic

If you want to skip the background and check out the top probiotics for acne and skin health, then CLICK this button:

I was super excited to ‘discover’ the skin microbiome, and potential of probiotics for acne and skin health. After years of so-so results on the skincare front, caring for my skin microbiome and supplementing with probiotics for acne, skin and gut health, has finally helped calm down my angry skin.

So I’m on a mission to share my experience with the new breed of skin probiotics, as well as probiotic skincare products; testing their power to soothe my unhappy skin microbiome!  

If you’re willing to take things a step further, then a skin microbiome test might be for you – here’s how I got on!

But, before delving into the potential benefits of probiotics for acne, let’s look at what acne is and what factors contribute to acne prone skin.

Acne is a skin condition characterized by the presence of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and in some cases, cysts.

Several factors contribute to acne, including hormonal imbalances, excess sebum production, clogged pores, and bacterial overgrowth. While acne is commonly associated with teenagers going through puberty, it can affect individuals of all ages.

Scientists have recently revealed the potential connection between gut health and skin conditions such as acne. The gut, often referred to as the “second brain,” houses trillions of bacteria that play an essential role in maintaining overall health. In fact, this so-called gut microbiome contains as many microbial cells as there are human cells, so there’s no wonder there’s a powerful effect on our wellbeing – not only skin but sleep, immunity and mental wellbeing!

A healthy gut microbiome is crucial for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. When imbalances occur in the gut bacteria, known as dysbiosis, it can lead to various health issues, including skin problems like acne.

Furthermore, studies have shown that the gut-skin axis, a two-way communication system between your gut and skin, plays a significant role in the development of acne. The gut microbiome can influence the production of sebum, the oily substance that contributes to clogged pores and acne formation. Additionally, imbalances in the gut bacteria can lead to widespread inflammation, which can make acne symptoms worse.

Image by Kjerstin Michaela Noomi Sakura Gihle Martinsen Haraldsen from Pixabay

Inflammation is another key player in the development and progression of acne. When the body’s immune system detects harmful substances or bacteria on the skin, it triggers an inflammatory response. This response leads to redness, swelling, and the formation of acne lesions.

Studies show that people with acne tend to have higher levels of inflammation. By reducing inflammation in the body, it is possible to alleviate acne symptoms and support clearer skin.

One way to address inflammation is through the use of probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore balance in the gut microbiome and reduce inflammation. One benefit of probiotics is their ability to produce anti-inflammatory molecules.

Moreover, probiotics have been found to have antimicrobial properties, which can help combat the overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin. For example, I took a skin microbiome test which showed an overabundance of Cutibacterium acnes acnes (which as the name implies is a chief culprit in acne!). Knowing that specific probiotics for acne, such as Staphylococcus capitis, can help fight C. acnes acnes, has raised my microbiome skincare routine to the next level!

By restoring a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut and on the skin, probiotics for acne may offer a natural and effective solution to help calm your skin.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, provide numerous health benefits. They are commonly found in fermented foods and supplements. Probiotics work by colonizing the gut and helping to restore the natural balance of bacteria.

These beneficial bacteria not only aid in digestion but also support the body’s immune system. By promoting a healthy balance of gut flora, probiotics can help prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and pathogens, thus reducing the risk of infections and illnesses.

Probiotics include various strains of bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to human health. The most commonly researched and consumed probiotics include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.

Research has shown that these microorganisms can have a wide range of health benefits beyond gut health. For example, certain strains of probiotics have been linked to improvements in mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. The gut-brain connection is a fascinating area of study, highlighting the intricate relationship between our digestive system and mental well-being.

Furthermore, probiotics have been studied for their potential role in reducing inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is a contributing factor to many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions. By modulating the body’s inflammatory response, probiotics may offer a natural approach to managing these conditions.

Probiotics are available in different forms, including food sources and dietary supplements. Some examples of probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso. These foods undergo fermentation, which allows bacteria to grow and enhance their probiotic properties.

When choosing a probiotic supplement, it is crucial to look for products that contain a diverse range of strains and have a high colony-forming unit (CFU) count to ensure their effectiveness. Additionally, it’s important to consider the specific health goals you are aiming to achieve with probiotic supplementation, as different strains may offer varying benefits. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a nutritionist can help determine the most suitable probiotic regimen for your individual needs.

Probiotics confer their benefits to the body through various mechanisms, including improving the immune system and promoting digestive health.

The immune system plays a critical role in protecting the body against harmful pathogens. Probiotics have been found to enhance the immune system’s response, helping to modulate inflammation and reduce the severity of certain skin conditions, including acne.

By improving immune function, probiotics may help decrease the likelihood of skin infections and reduce the inflammatory response associated with acne.

Furthermore, recent studies have suggested that probiotics can also play a role in mental health by influencing the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis is a bidirectional communication system between the central nervous system and the gut microbiome, and research indicates that probiotics may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The gut and skin are intricately linked through a communication pathway called the gut-skin axis. When the gut microbiome is imbalanced, it can lead to inflammation and increase the likelihood of skin problems, such as acne.

Probiotics help restore balance in the gut by promoting healthy digestion, supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria, and reducing the presence of harmful pathogens. By improving digestive health, probiotics may indirectly contribute to clearer skin.

In addition to their impact on the gut and skin, studies show that certain probiotics help sleep. For example, some probiotics influence serotonin, the building block for the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin. The potential benefit of probiotics for sleep further highlight the diverse ways in which probiotics can positively influence overall health and well-being.

Research exploring the relationship between probiotics and acne is still ongoing, but preliminary studies suggest there may be potential benefits of incorporating probiotics into acne treatment regimens.

Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide, characterized by the presence of pimples, blackheads, and cysts on the face, back, and other areas of the body. While factors like genetics, diet, and skincare routines play a role in the development of acne, emerging research is shedding light on the potential impact of gut health on skin health.

Studies have shown that certain strains of probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties and can help modulate the immune response in the skin. By reducing inflammation and supporting the skin’s natural defense mechanisms, they may contribute to a reduction in acne symptoms.

Additionally, some probiotics have been found to inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria, such as Cutibacterium acnes. By reducing the number of harmful bacteria on the skin, probiotics may help prevent acne breakouts.

Furthermore, probiotics play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the skin microbiome, which is the community of microorganisms that live on the skin’s surface. A healthy skin microbiome acts as a protective barrier against pathogens and helps regulate the skin’s pH levels, both of which are essential for preventing acne flare-ups.

Hormonal imbalances, particularly an increase in androgen levels, are a common underlying cause of acne. Hormonal acne is often seen in teenagers during puberty, as well as in women experiencing hormonal fluctuations during their menstrual cycle.

Some research suggests that certain strains of probiotics may help balance hormone levels by influencing hormone metabolism. By targeting the root cause of hormonal acne, probiotics may help improve skin health and reduce breakouts.

It’s important to note that while probiotics show promise in the treatment of acne, individual responses may vary. Consulting with a dermatologist or healthcare provider can help determine the most effective acne treatment plan, which may include probiotics as part of a comprehensive approach to skin health.

Adding probiotics to your daily diet can be a simple yet effective way to support your gut health and potentially improve acne symptoms.

Incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet is a great way to naturally increase your probiotic intake. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso are all excellent sources of probiotics that can be easily incorporated into meals and snacks.

It is important to note that different strains of probiotics may have varying effects on acne, so it is advisable to experiment with different probiotic-rich foods to find what works best for you.

If incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet is not feasible, or if you want to ensure a higher probiotic intake, supplements can provide a convenient option. When choosing a probiotic for skin health, look for products that contain a diverse range of strains and have a high CFU count.

Additionally, it is essential to consider factors such as shelf stability, manufacturing practices, and any potential allergens or sensitivities you may have to ensure you select a high-quality supplement.

Research into probiotics for acne is still ongoing. However, some notable brands are leading the field of probiotics for acne and skin health.

Five probiotics for skin health that are backed by science, include:

The probiotic SereneSkin™ is a unique blend of four spore-forming Bacillus probiotic strains with added vitamin K2 for overall skin microbiome and gut-skin axis support. The specific Bacillus strains are:

  • Bacillus subtilis HU58™
  • Bacillus coagulans SC208
  • Bacillus clausii SC109
  • Bacillus indicus HU36™

Knowing the importance of gut health when it comes to a glowing complexion, I’m doing the Microbiome Labs Total Gut Restoration program, and have seen good results with clearer skin.

The Gallinée Clear & Microbiome Supplement is formulated with zinc, nettle, prebiotics and 2 strains of live probiotics: Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus GG plus Lactococcus lactis spp lactis HA136.

It is formulated to reduce the look of blemishes for breakout-prone skin.

The Dr. Formulated Probiotics Platinum Skin contains clinically studied Lactobacillus iohnsonii la-1 & Lactobacillus paracasei st-11, with Vitamin A and Lycopene for skin health and radiance.

The Codeage Skin Probiotic+ supplement offers probiotics, prebiotics, vitamin C and phytoceramides.

It also contains a selection of herbs and fruits to support gut health, skin complexion, hydration, and overall skin health from within.

The HUM Skin Squad Pre+Probiotic is a potent probiotic for clear skin containing 9 strains for non-cystic acne plus prebiotic konjac root for balanced gut health.

For more details and probiotics for acne and skin health, check out this article on the top probiotics for skin and gut health.

In conclusion, while more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of probiotics for acne, there is promising evidence suggesting their potential role in improving skin health. After years of trial and mostly error on the skincare front, caring for my skin microbiome and using probiotics for acne, skin and gut health, has finally helped calm down my angry skin. 

By supporting gut health, reducing inflammation, and modulating the immune response, probiotics may offer a natural and complementary approach to acne management. Whether through probiotic-rich foods or supplements, incorporating these beneficial bacteria into your daily routine might help promote clearer, healthier skin.

NB If in doubt, consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist.

Can probiotics really clear acne?

The relationship between probiotics and acne is a topic of ongoing research. Studies suggest that certain probiotic strains may have potential benefits for skin health. Benefits include reducing inflammation and supporting a balanced microbiome. However, more research is needed for guidelines on probiotics for acne.

How do probiotics work for acne?

The potential mechanisms through which probiotics for acne may work are still an area of active research. However, several hypotheses exist:

  1. Balancing the microbiome: Probiotics may help balance both the gut and skin microbiome. A balanced microbiome can contribute to overall skin health.
  2. Anti-inflammatory effects: Some probiotic strains may have anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce inflammation associated with acne lesions.
  3. Immune modulation: Probiotics might influence the immune system, promoting a more regulated response. This could be beneficial in preventing excessive immune reactions that may contribute to acne.
  4. Production of bioactive substances: Certain probiotics may produce bioactive substances, such as short-chain fatty acids, which can have anti-inflammatory effects and positively impact the skin.

It’s important to note that effectiveness of probiotics for acne can vary depending on the person. More research is needed on the most beneficial strains and formulations.

As with any skincare approach, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist for personalized advice based on your unique skin concerns.

Are probiotics safe for acne treatment?

In general, probiotics are considered safe for most people when used as directed. They are naturally occurring in many foods and are commonly found in supplements. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Individual variability: Responses to probiotics can vary among individuals. What works for one person may not work for another. Some individuals may experience gastrointestinal symptoms like gas or bloating.
  2. Choice of strain: The effectiveness of probiotics can depend on the specific strains used. Not all probiotics are the same. Research is ongoing to determine which strains may be most beneficial for various health conditions, including acne.
  3. Underlying health conditions: If you have a compromised immune system or underlying health condition, consult with a doctor before using probiotics or making significant dietary changes.
  4. Quality and source: The quality of probiotic supplements can vary, so it’s important to choose reputable brands. Getting probiotics from natural sources like yogurt, kefir, or fermented vegetables is a good option.

Before using probiotics for acne treatment, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist.

Which probiotic strains are effective for acne?

Probiotic strains that may be effective for acne include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Bacillus. These probiotics may improve skin health by reducing inflammation, inhibiting acne-causing bacteria, and balancing the immune system.

Some specific probiotic strains that may help address acne triggers include:

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG: This strain may modulate the immune sustem and influence skin health.

Lactobacillus paracasei NCC2461 (or ST11): This strain may reduce inflammation in the skin, inhibit neutrogenic inflammation, and modulate the skin’s immune response. These properties are beneficial for managing acne.

Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®: This sub-strain has been used in clinical studies assessing the effects of probiotics on skin health. It shows potential benefits for acne severity and gut health.

Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07®: This strain has been associated with improvements in the severity of acne and is considered a probiotic strain that may help address some of the triggers for acne

Bacillus coagulans SC208: A spore-forming probiotic that produces lactic acid and helps balance the pH of the skin, supports skin barrier function, and reduces water loss from the skin.

Bacillus indicus HU36™: A spore-forming probiotic that produces high levels of antioxidants, such as lycopene, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and lutein, which protect the skin from oxidative stress and environmental damage.

Streptococcus thermophilus

What is the optimal dosage of probiotics for acne?

Determining the optimal dosage of probiotics for acne depends on various factors, including the specific probiotic strain, the formulation, and individual responses. The optimal dosage may vary from person to person. A good general guide for quality probiotics is >10 Billion CFU.

How long does it take to see results of probiotics for acne?

The time it takes to see results from probiotics for acne can vary widely among individuals, and it depends on several factors, including the severity of the acne, the specific probiotic strains used, and individual response to the supplementation.

Can probiotics help with acne scarring?

The direct impact of probiotics on existing acne scars is not well-established. Probiotics are generally associated with potential benefits for skin health, particularly in relation to acne prevention and management, but their efficacy in reducing established scars is less clear.

Can probiotics prevent acne recurrence?

Studies suggest that probiotics may have a role in maintaining skin health and reducing the likelihood of acne recurrence.

Are dietary changes necessary alongside probiotic use?

While probiotics can contribute to gut health and may have potential benefits for skin conditions, including acne, dietary changes can also play a significant role in supporting overall skin health. It’s important to adopt a holistic approach that considers both probiotic supplementation and a balanced, nutrient-rich diet for optimal results.

What other lifestyle factors contribute to acne improvement?

Several lifestyle factors can contribute to the improvement of acne. While individual responses may vary, adopting healthy habits can generally support skin health. Here are some lifestyle factors that may positively influence acne:

  • Adequate sleep: Ensure you get enough quality sleep, as inadequate sleep can contribute to stress and inflammation.
  • Diet: Consider a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit the intake of sugary and processed foods, as these may contribute to inflammation.
  • Hydration: Drink an adequate amount of water to keep the skin hydrated and support overall health.
  • Stress management: Chronic stress may exacerbate acne. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
  • Hormonal balance: For some individuals, hormonal imbalances can contribute to acne. In such cases, consulting with a healthcare professional may be beneficial.
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