Beauty Store Business magazine - March, 2019

Probiotic Power

Introduce your customers to the beauty of beneficial bacteria.

Exfoliating, scrubbing, peeling–these words have become synonymous with morning and evening skincare regimens. It’s often believed that sloughing off the top, outermost layer of skin will unveil softer, baby- smooth freshness that’s hidden just beneath the surface. However, when skin is too squeaky clean, it may actually be working against us. This is because our body is packed with microorganisms that inhabit all of our organs and tissues–including our skin. Think of these organisms as helpful bacteria. There are more than 100 trillion of them and they outnumber our cells by 10:1. These organisms comprise what is known collectively as the body’s microbiome. Though scientists are only in the initial stages of research into this vast system, there’s already proof that it may be much more crucial to our overall health than was once thought–and as unique to who we are as our genes.

To tap into the skin’s microbiota and exploit beneficial bacteria, experts are relying on probiotics, which are living organisms, such as yeasts and bacteria. When applied topically, ingested in supplement form or consumed in foods such as yogurt, they build on the body’s own, ever- present microbiome. Probiotic supplements have already gained a reputation for aiding in digestion and now, along with topical products, have been shown to work symbiotically with the skin’s microbiome. Because of this, a new range of probiotic-centered skincare products, in various forms, are being introduced as a way to alleviate a variety of skin-related issues, from acne to eczema to rosacea.

“Probiotics help to bring in new bacteria to replace the old [bacteria] that has died off, keeping you with a flourishing skin microbiome.”

–Michelle Henry, MD, dermatologist

As the largest organ in the body, the skin’s microbiome is diverse, to say the least. To get customers comfortable with their bacteria, and ease them off the vigilant cleansing rituals they have become so accustomed to, introduce them to the probiotic category through both supplements and topical options. Probiotic-infused products are the perfect segue to replace harsh soaps because they provide a gentle alternative that works with the skin’s natural environment, instead of against it. With a healthy skin microbiome, we absorb more nutrients and eliminate toxins, which help reduce inflammation. This translates to healthier skin, less acne and potentially decreased eczema and rosacea.

This likely won’t be your customer’s introduction to probiotics, though it may be the first time they’re hearing the concept applied to skin care. According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the total probiotics segment was valued at $42 billion in 2016 and is predicted to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 7 percent, growing substantially to reach $64 billion by 2022. As awareness about probiotics catches on, it’s likely that the market will only continue this upward trend. The key takeaway to know when familiarizing your customers with probiotics is to make them aware that they contain living microorganisms. Products can come in a variety of forms, from ingestible food (such as yogurt, miso and tempeh) to dietary supplements and topical skin creams.

“You need to know which bacteria are actually good for your skin,” explains Michelle Henry, MD, a Manhattan- based dermatologist and clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. She suggests taking the time to get to know which bacteria are considered beneficial. “If you’re wanting something to replenish or boost your skin microbiome, you need specific bacteria. These include [but aren’t limited to] Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacterium longum,” she explains. Customers don’t need to choose just one; it’s beneficial to mix both strains of bacteria, as multiple clinical studies have shown they are more effective when combined–either in topical form or as a supplement.

Stocking probiotics in multiple forms allows you to integrate this category into your shop and offer clients a comprehensive package. Depending on what you decide to sell, you may need to make space in your store to ensure your goods are stored appropriately. Many probiotic supplements need to be refrigerated, though others are preserved as long as they are stored in a cool, dark space. However, all probiotics must be kept away from moisture and heat. If refrigeration isn’t an option, look for probiotics that are nitrogen-sealed in blister packs or those that are packed individually, which will help protect the live cultures. If probiotics aren’t kept refrigerated from the time they are manufactured to the time of purchase, they will not be as potent. Equally as important, look for “viable through end of shelf life” written on the packaging–this means that the organisms are still living past the time of manufacture. Similarly, if you’re stocking probiotic food products, check for phrasing similar to “live and active cultures” displayed.

“Just like you probably take supplements to boost your own health, your skin microbiome needs a bit of a boost now and then too.”

–Michelle Henry, MD, dermatologist

Of course, different strains of bacteria do different things. While you don’t need to memorize the effects
of an entire spectrum of helpful bacteria, seek out topical formulas and supplements that are particularly beneficial for skin care. For instance, Lactobacillus rhamnosus has been shown to help with eczema; Lactobacillus plantarum can help with inflammation; and skin-supporting Streptococcus thermophilus has been shown to improve cermaide levels to help prevent dry skin.

“Just like you probably take supplements to boost your own health, your skin microbiome needs a bit of a boost now and then too,” Dr. Henry says. “In a clean-obsessed society, many of the ingredients in standard cleansers and products can affect our microbiome similarly to antibiotics. Probiotics help to bring in new bacteria to replace the old [bacteria] that has died off, keeping you with a flourishing skin microbiome.” Whether your customers suffer from skin issues or not, probiotics can help them maintain a healthy microbiome topically and within the body.

Offer a range of prebiotic and probiotic products to suit your customers’ vast needs.

  • Prebiotics: Probiotics are living organisms, which means they need food to stay alive and function. Enter prebiotics, or non-digestible fibers that probiotics thrive on, which are already present in the digestive tract. Basically, the more food (or prebiotics) that probiotics are given, the more efficiently they function. Prebiotics are available as supplements in capsule or powder form.
  • Topical Probiotics: Topical probiotics rest on the skin, creating a shield that fosters beneficial bacteria while keeping the detrimental kind out. Topical probiotics also help soothe the skin and can help stifle the immune reaction that triggers inflammation in those who suffer from rosacea. Certain probiotics contain anti- microbial properties that target bad bacteria, which aid in the treatment of acne. From serums to cleansers and moisturizers, probiotics are available as an addition to every essential in the skincare category.
  • Beauty Supplements: Probiotics fall under the nutraceutical umbrella—and are therefore not regulated by the FDA; however, you can still carry supplements that have been clinically tested by a third party. Probiotics that list their dosage form as Colony Forming Units (CFU) tend to be more potent and allow you to more accurately recommend a Goldilocks dosage to customers. A range of 30 billion CFU is sufficient for daily maintenance, while those dealing with an internal issue will more likely see results from 100 billion CFU.

[Photo by adventtr/]