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Could Yogurt Cure Your Breakouts? Why Probiotics Are the Next Big Thing for Skin

By Wendy Rodewald-Sulz / February 3, 2014

 
John Stamos’ Super Bowl commercial isn’t the only reason to eat more yogurt today. It turns out the good bacteria found in yogurt and other probiotic foods could also help clear up your complexion, according to a new report from the American Academy of Dermatology.
 
Eating foods with live bacteria cultures helps restore balance to what’s called the “gut-brain-skin axis,” says Dr. Whitney P. Bowe, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist. The idea behind the axis is that feeling stressed and eating unhealthy food — say, a tub of macaroni and cheese — causes your digestion to slow. This allows unhealthy or “bad” bacteria to take over the gut, which eventually causes toxins to release into your bloodstream. Guess what those toxins do to your skin? Yep, they cause inflammation that can result in a big ol’ honking zit (or for some people, symptoms of rosacea). 
 
But probiotics introduce good bacteria to the gut, thwarting the whole breakout-causing process. So far there have been a couple studies to prove it (and more are in the works). In a Korean study of 56 acne patients, researchers found that drinking a Lactobacillus-fermented dairy beverage reduced the number of zits and decreased oil production over 12 weeks. Pass the kefir, please.
 
Probiotics also work when slathered directly onto the skin, which means that bacteria is about to become bigger than BB cream in the cosmetics world. 
 
So how does it work? The surface of your skin has both good and bad bacteria, just like your gut. Probiotics help eradicate the bad bacteria that can cause inflammation. They also help block the body’s immune response to microorganisms that live on skin — this is a good thing, because patients with acne and rosacea have an overactive immune response, and that response is what causes flare-ups.
 
A handful of probiotic treatments are already available at cosmetics counters: Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup contains the good bacteria Lactobacillus, and eco-brand Nude Skincare uses a probiotic complex in many of its products. Another option? Whip up a DIY Greek yogurt mask and take in a Full House rerun or two.