When it comes to writing about wellness, there are topics that are sexy (innovative spa treatments, new workout crazes) and topics that are decidedly less so (bodily functions, dental hygiene). Digestive system health is one that unquestionably falls into the latter category. So, though I take good care of my “gut” by feeding it prebiotics and probiotics in the form of The Beauty Chef’s Glow Inner Beauty Powder, Natren Healthy Trinity supplements, and a whole lot of kimchi, I don’t generally spend a whole lot of time talking about it. Which is why when probiotic skincare products started popping up on my radar, I didn’t pay it much attention to them. I had much more exotic-sounding ingredients like kukui and sea buckthorn to occupy myself with.
But Aurelia certainly makes the whole thing hard to ignore. If you hadn't already heard, their Miracle Cleanser lives up to its name. Even so, I ended up trying the Aurelia Cell Revitalise Day Moisturizer completely by accident after leaving my regular lotion at my boyfriend's place across town recently. The jar was just sitting there—heavy on the probiotics—in my medicine cabinet, so I figured why not.
One application, and it was like this is what I've been missing my entire life. It's thick and creamy in the pot but light and smooth on my skin—and it smells like heaven. It also features a host of sufficiently exotic botanicals from baobab to hibiscus to plumeria and tuberose. The probiotic at work is from bifido bacteria, meant to stabilize skin's defense system. “The goal is to help your skin regain its natural balance, much like probiotics do for your gut,” said Aurelia Founder, Claire Vero. She began using probiotics topically when she noticed their ability to calm inflammation in patients with chronic skin conditions. Since launching the line two years ago, Aurelia has won 26 awards in 26 months. In other words, I am not the first one to fall for the power of probiotics.
After that, I changed my tune on the whole rubbing healthy bacteria on my skin thing. Next up, I fell in love with Éminence Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser for its amazing botanical scent (cucumber juice is the number on ingredient). I worked the Éminence Probiotic Masque into my weekly rotation, too. All of their products feature yogurt as an exfoliant, which helps smooth skin and banish acne without stripping any moisture.
Before I get carried away with any more lauding, I find it's always important to remember that skin is, itself, an organ. So, just like your standard dose of Florastor can help with balancing your organs involved in digestion, there's research that shows other types of probiotics lend themselves to other organ systems. Essentially, probiotics can trick the body into focusing on good bacteria and not the harmful ones that increase inflammation (aka acne and rosacea). New York-based Dr. Carlos A. Charles explains: “Probiotics can have a calming effect on the skin by sending direct messages to cells and telling them to stop their release of inflammatory mediators.” However, in his opinion, it’s still too early to tell whether topical beauty products are as potent and beneficial as probiotic supplements and foods.
For the record, Vero agrees that you should be working probiotics into your diet too. “They’re great for all-around health,” she said. “I’ve noticed a huge difference in my body since I started taking them.” And if my experience with both supplemental and topical probiotics is any indication, who cares if it's sexy to talk about. It works, and that's what matters.
Photographed by Tom Newton.