Posted on: July 12th, 2022

Probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics (biotics) are almost universally associated with oral nutraceutical supplementation. What many people don’t know is that these biotics are also becoming increasingly common as an ingredient in beauty products.

Biotic supplements aren’t typical vitamin and mineral products. How are they different? Let’s take a quick look at the definitions of probiotic, prebiotic, and postbiotic.

Probiotics, Prebiotics, & Postbiotics

The biotics sound so similar that you may think it will be a hassle to remember what each one does. It’s actually very simple to break down: Probiotics are actual bacteria (beneficial bacteria) while prebiotics is basically a food that enriches the diet of probiotics and our healthy endogenous microbiota.

Prebiotics are generally non-digestible carbohydrates, or dietary fibers,  Gut bacteria are able to manufacture some prebiotics on their own; however, providing prebiotics that targets specific beneficial gut bacteria and probiotics from supplements has been an area of focus for recent studies.

Postbiotics are bioactive compounds that develop when probiotic bacteria feed on prebiotic food (mainly fibers) in your intestinal tract (e.g., colon). Postbiotics are technically considered waste products of probiotic bacteria metabolism, but they offer many health benefits to the host (you!).

To sum up: probiotics contain healthy live bacteria, prebiotics are food for probiotics and for your own beneficial bacteria, and postbiotics are bioactive compounds secreted from the probiotics that have potential health benefits.

Probiotics and Beauty Products

Probiotics used in beauty products may be enhanced with prebiotics and postbiotics but often show up on ingredient lists alone. This is what surprises people most; living organisms are often the main ingredient in modern beauty products. Why?

Different ‘good’ bacteria are used in probiotic products, depending on the goals for the product. Probiotics used in skin care products often look to exfoliate the skin or provide benefits to skin softness. Some skincare products with probiotics aim at helping alleviate heavy acne. Others look at creating a ‘more diverse microbiome’ on the skin to promote overall skin health.

As probiotics are mostly helpful bacteria, there isn’t really anything to worry about if your beauty products contain them. Biotics in general has pronounced effects when used as an internal supplement for the gut. This means there shouldn’t be any actively harmful effects when applied externally. If you have specific concerns about beauty products with probiotics, talk to your dermatologist.

Research at Biofortis

Biofortis is dedicated to protecting consumer health throughout the world by delivering a wide range of testing and consultancy services to the food, supplement, and nutrition industries. Biofortis supports this mission in two ways—through clinical trials and sensory and consumer insights testing. We specialize in clinical research targeting foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements that affect body structures, function, and overall health. Contact us with any clinical trial or scientific consulting needs.

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