A new wave of serums, creams and elixirs tap into the heal­ing pow­ers of fer­mented in­gre­di­ents and make the case for bac­te­ria be­ing the next big thing in beauty.

Fashion (Canada) - - The Market Contents - By Kari Molvar

Ra­di­ant skin might not be as much work as we thought. Turns out, it’s time to stop scrub­bing, rub­bing and laser­ing and let healthy bac­te­ria thrive.

Jen­nifer Brodeur, a Mon­treal-based fa­cial­ist and the CEO/founder of JB Skin Guru, could eas­ily be run­ning a Level 1 trauma cen­tre for skin­care. She re­cently had a fe­male pa­tient come in with a sec­ond-de­gree burn on her face. The cause? A chem­i­cal peel that might as well have been made with bat­tery acid—it was so con­cen­trated that it cleared out pores to the point of com­pletely oblit­er­at­ing the top layer of this young woman’s skin. And it wasn’t the first time Brodeur has had to “per­form CPR” on a com­plex­ion left dam­aged by ex­treme ex­fo­li­at­ing mea­sures—whether they’re gritty scrubs, harsh peels or overly “pu­ri­fy­ing” masks with ag­gres­sive ac­tive in­gre­di­ents. The be­lief that “stronger is bet­ter,” says Brodeur about to­day’s skin­care reg­i­mens, “is ab­so­lutely in­cor­rect.”

Blame it on an ob­ses­sion with spot­less, air­brushed skin that doesn’t need a fil­ter. In an ef­fort to achieve that in­stant #glow, many en­thu­si­asts (quite lit­er­ally) burn their faces off. This, in turn, dis­rupts the skin’s mi­cro­biome, the del­i­cate ecosys­tem com­posed of healthy, ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria, says Dr. Rachel Nazar­ian, a New York City der­ma­tol­o­gist. When this mix of flora is com­pro­mised, she ex­plains, the “good bac­te­ria are no longer able to keep in­flam­ma­tion and ‘bad’ bac­te­ria in check.” All the un­healthy mi­crobes come rush­ing in, trig­ger­ing things like acne, rosacea and gen­er­ally stressed-out skin.

So it’s no won­der that nearly 70 per cent of Cana­dian women de­scribe their skin as sen­si­tive. This epi­demic doesn’t sur­prise Sue Y. Nabi, a for­mer beauty ex­ec­u­tive at L’Oréal with a back­ground in bio­chem­istry. “We now have a whole gen­er­a­tion of women—and men—who spend their lives scrub­bing, rub­bing, laser­ing and peel­ing their faces in the hope that this ‘dam­age’ will spur heal­ing and their skin will look younger,” she laments. The truth, she ar­gues, is that we should do the op­po­site: Let healthy bac­te­ria thrive and strengthen the skin’s nat­u­ral “im­mune sys­tem” for youth­ful, ra­di­ant re­sults.

With this goal in mind, Nabi launched Orveda, a lux­ury ve­gan skin­care line that’s all about nur­tur­ing— not in­jur­ing—the mi­cro­biome. Its high-grade for­mu­las re­place po­ten­tial ir­ri­tants (retinol, gly­colic acid, es­sen­tial oils) with pre­bi­otics—a.k.a. in­gre­di­ents that “feed” healthy bac­te­ria and al­low it to flour­ish on the skin’s sur­face. The Pre­bi­otic Emul­sion, for ex­am­ple, func­tions »

In an ef­fort to achieve that in­stant #glow, many en­thu­si­asts (quite lit­er­ally) burn their faces off. This, in turn, dis­rupts the skin’s mi­cro­biome, the del­i­cate ecosys­tem com­posed of healthy, ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria.

as a serum or mois­tur­izer and can be lay­ered on as a mask so it pen­e­trates deeply to re­plen­ish lost mois­ture. “Feed­ing the healthy bac­te­ria on the skin is now a key el­e­ment of any skin­care,” as­serts Nabi. “Skin­care with­out pre­bi­otics is like a mois­tur­iz­ing cream with­out hyaluronic acid.”

Now, indie and main­stream beauty brands alike are em­brac­ing bac­te­ria—in a big way—with a wave of mi­cro­biome-friendly for­mu­las to for­tify the com­plex­ion. La Roche-Posay re­cently de­buted its To­le­ri­ane Sen­si­tive Pre­bi­otic Care mois­tur­izer, a lo­tion in­fused with vi­ta­min B3 and ther­mal wa­ter to help stim­u­late mi­cro-or­gan­isms. Bios­sance, mean­while, is tap­ping into pro­bi­otics (specif­i­cally, lac­to­coc­cus fer­ment lysate, a bac­te­ria that’s be­lieved to im­prove the skin bar­rier) with its Squalane + Pro­bi­otic Gel Mois­tur­izer. Ap­ply­ing the jelly-like elixir twice daily can calm red­ness and pacify touchy, re­ac­tive skin.

Most of us are al­ready fa­mil­iar with the gut-bal­anc­ing ben­e­fits of eat­ing cul­tured foods—miso, yo­gourt, ke­fir— but em­brac­ing fer­mented skin­care can feel like a leap. Still, the ex­perts say that it’s not sim­ply a fad and there’s sci­ence be­hind the re­sults. “Those who have in­flam­ma­tory skin con­di­tions or con­sider them­selves to have sen­si­tive skin (with acne, eczema or rosacea) can ben­e­fit the most,” says Nazar­ian. Stud­ies even sug­gest that “top­i­cal pro­bi­otics may be suit­able al­ter­na­tives to top­i­cal an­tibi­otics for treat­ing acne,” says Dr. Sandy Skot­nicki, a Toronto der­ma­tol­o­gist and au­thor of the new book Be­yond Soap. And un­like with an­tibi­otics, you can’t de­velop a tol­er­ance to bac­te­ria-spiked skin­care. In fact, Nazar­ian as­serts, “you can’t overdo it.”

Con­sider that rea­son enough to pour your­self a pro­bi­otic cock­tail. “The skin is very much linked to ev­ery­thing that is hap­pen­ing in­ter­nally,” ex­plains Nazar­ian, who finds that treat­ing and calm­ing in­flam­ma­tion in the gut with a bac­te­ria-rich diet and sup­ple­ments of­ten leads to clearer, more bal­anced skin. The Beauty Chef’s Glow In­ner Beauty Pow­der aims to en­er­gize skin with a mix of bio-fer­mented su­per­foods like lin­seed, maqui berry and pepi­tas.

Con­sis­tency counts, though. You don’t want to undo all your good ef­forts by ne­glect­ing smart skin­care habits. Oth­er­wise, “you’re miss­ing the point,” says Nazar­ian. Rule num­ber one: Opt for a gen­tle pH-bal­anced cleanser, says Brodeur, who treats her clients to her Peoni Le Net­toy­ant with or­ganic aloe, pe­ony and ar­gan oil. Then, lather up less. “To help main­tain the skin’s nat­u­ral oils and mi­cro­bial bal­ance, cleanse no more than once a day un­less ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary,” she ad­vises. (That’s right—let­ting your skin be a lit­tle “dirty” is a good thing, con­firms Skot­nicki). Lastly, you might scale back that 10-step rou­tine. “Pa­tients for­get that lay­er­ing mul­ti­ple skin­care prod­ucts can lead to ir­ri­ta­tion,” says Skot­nicki. “If you strip the skin with a cleanser and then put on some­thing ex­fo­li­at­ing, you can set your skin up for red­ness and ir­ri­ta­tion. I re­fer to this as cu­mu­la­tive ir­ri­ta­tion, and I be­lieve it’s the rea­son for many cases of sen­si­tive skin.”

Not that you need to Never. Ever. Ex­fo­li­ate. Again. In­stead, go for kin­der meth­ods. Masks, like Marie Veronique’s Pro­bi­otic + Ex­fo­li­a­tion Mask, pair fer­mented cul­tures with mild lac­tic acid and en­zymes to peel off the su­per­fi­cial layer of skin with­out in­flict­ing any dam­age. Or, try Orveda’s Vis­i­bly Bright­en­ing & Skin Per­fect­ing Masque, a leave-on ex­fo­li­at­ing fix that re­lies on spot­cor­rect­ing gal­lic acid—or what Nabi calls a “post-bi­otic” in­gre­di­ent that’s “ac­ti­vated by the healthy bac­te­ria that live on our skin” to fade pig­men­ta­tion. This gen­tle so­lu­tion, she says, “is the fu­ture.”

With all the pos­i­tive buzz and mount­ing ev­i­dence to sup­port both pre­bi­otic and pro­bi­otic ben­e­fits, ex­pect more break­throughs ahead. Nazar­ian pre­dicts that re­searchers will soon be able to iden­tify spe­cific strains of bac­te­ria and the amounts re­quired to bal­ance skin—a de­vel­op­ment she ex­pects will hap­pen “in the next few years.” By that point, pat­ting on cul­tured creams, serums and masks will be stan­dard prac­tice. Or, as she says, “it will be just as nat­u­ral a step in our daily reg­i­men as tak­ing our mul­tivi­ta­mins.”

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