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Walnut Creek Magazine

Eat Yogurt—And Wear It Too!

Jan 17, 2017 07:59PM ● By Lou Fancher

Eat Yogurt—And Wear It Too!

Probiotics and current trends in natural cosmetics and skin care                                                                                                                                                                               

By Lou Fancher

After focusing for years on the healthiest foods and supplements we put in our bodies, now it’s time to think about what we put on our bodies. Specifically, consumers are thinking about the body’s largest organ: skin. Because it’s porous, skin absorbs. Depending on the substance and body part to which a product is applied, dermatology experts say absorption rates vary dramatically. Even so, if you cover your face on a daily basis with lotion or foundation, color your hair, or wear lipstick, wouldn’t you prefer non-toxic ingredients in the products? And if there’s a natural ingredient that won’t harm and might slow the impact of aging, provide chemical-free cleansing or reduce conditions like acne, you’d want to know about it, right?  In response to a growing consumer-led movement, cosmetics and skincare manufacturers are shifting their focus to non-toxic ingredients, such as probiotics, the “good-for-your-gut bacteria” that aids digestion and naturally occurs in yogurt, kefir and other fermented foods.
Fermented skincare has been the rage in South Korea for some time. The beauty world is finally catching on and finding out it benefits skin and may slow down conditions of aging like wrinkles and laxity. In the gut, food bacteria feed on sugar and starch, generating lactic acid. This process not only preserves but also creates B-vitamins, probiotics, Omega-3 fatty acids and beneficial enzymes, making food more nutrient-dense in its fermented state. When applied to creams, something similar occurs, making them easier to absorb and fighting bad bacteria. While clinical research is in its early stages, experts like New York City Dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe have published studies suggesting that probiotics may be beneficial to the skin. By restoring acidic skin pH and alleviating oxidative stress, probiotics may play an important role in anti-aging formulas.
National brands including Clinique, Burt's Bees and Éminence manufacture skin-care products with probiotics. Macy’s in Broadway Plaza and the new Whole Foods Market on Ygnacio Valley Road have devoted substantial floor space to natural cosmetics with hands-on sampling and sales personnel who understand the products. “Customers love to touch, feel and smell these products. Body care is sensory: having a chance to try a little bit of the product beforehand really goes a long way,” says Clare Blunt, a 13-year whole body regional buyer with Whole Foods. Blunt says consumers are definitely more concerned about toxins on their skin. The questions she hears range from fears of aluminum in deodorants to lead in lipstick. Requests for “chemical-free” are big across cosmetics, body, hair and sun care brands, as well as household cleaning and yard care products.
But it’s not just about probiotics, Interest in aromatherapy, the use of essential oils in beauty care and micellar water as a cleanser is booming. “Micellar water is a gentle cleansing option that doesn’t remove natural oils from your skin,” says Blunt. Improved practical items for “beauty-on-the-go” are new wipes, easy-to-apply sheet masks and single-serve moisturizers that provide quick beauty pick-me-ups. Ultimately, the best cosmetic and skin care tip for 2017 is to read the ingredients.
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