It all started towards the end of my trip to Iceland. I started to break out the day that we were leaving. I did my normal skincare routine and spot treatments and figured that, like usual, it would go away in a day or two. But something was different this time. I started experiencing more breakouts as the days went on and was beginning to panic a little. I initially attributed it to traveling and all the things that come with it – poor diet, less sleep, not drinking enough water, etc. However, I had gone back to my normal routine of drinking plenty of water and trying to eat as healthy as I could. I wasn’t using any new products so I couldn’t immediately point to a culprit. Weeks turned to months and my skin was the probably the worst it had been in years.
I tried everything to get it back under control – tea tree oil, manuka honey, sulfur, charcoal, varying strengths of chemical peels, etc. Nothing was working. It then occurred to me that the cause was most likely internal. I’m very familiar with the fact that diet and overall health can heavily attribute to the condition of your skin, which is why I’m always trying to stay hydrated and eat my greens. But this was strange because nothing had really changed about what I was eating. Soo…what gives?
At this point, I am at my wits end. I, like most people, can get self conscious about my outward appearance. I have grown accustomed to just walking out of my apartment with no makeup on to go to the grocery store, dinner at a restaurant, or to hang out with friends. I was confident in my skin. Then, all of a sudden…that all just went away. I was really tired of being insecure about my skin. So, I finally caved and decided to see an esthetician and get my first ever facial. It may seem strange that despite my obsession with skincare, I have never gotten any professional procedures on my face done. That’s because I love searching for answers myself. If I feel like I can figure it out of my own…I will. But, for this issue, I was willing to fork over the cash if it meant finally ending this. I found Anh through all her positive reviews online. Her website is here, if anyone is interested in visiting/booking her.
So, I go in with pretty low expectations…maybe it will be just a mask and some facial massaging. She talks to me in depth about my concerns and my usual skincare routine, as well as my diet. The first thing she does is put these eye covers over my eyes and shines a bright light onto my skin for closer examination. Within a minute she says, “I think your breakouts are due to digestion issues.” I was floored. How did she figure that out so quickly?! My mind just started racing after that and everything just clicked for me right then and there. I have read articles about how gut/digestion issues can impact your skin and cause breakouts but I guess I just never connected that to what was happening to me. Without going into too much detail, I do have digestion issues and a sensitive stomach. So what Anh was telling me wasn’t completely off base. She suggested that I try taking probiotics with live cultures to see if that would help my skin get back on track. Immediately after the facial, I went home and started doing research on probiotics and what would be the best one for me.
Now, before I go into exactly which brand I am using and why, let me tell you about the benefits of taking probiotics and how exactly this ties into skincare.
The digestive system contains good and bad bacteria and usually when they are balanced, your overall health is at its best. When bad bacteria starts to take over due to stress, poor diet, or excessive antibiotic usage (to name a few)…this can start to affect your digestion and produce toxins. This can cause increased chronic inflammation, which is one of the main causes of skin issues. Taking probiotics can help you regulate the bacteria in your gut by introducing the good bacteria back into your gut and lower inflammation. To put it simply, your skin is an elimination organ and if you are not properly digesting your food (which can cause toxins and waste to just float around in your body)…it will show on your skin. So, taking probiotics can help out with all of that!
In researching which probiotic would be best for me, I looked into bacteria count (CFU), diversity in the range of bacteria, shelf stability, potency, and whether or not it had an enteric coating to help the probiotics actually reach my stomach. I chose to go with Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics: Original Formula since it checked off all the boxes. It has 12 different strains of lactic acid bacteria and it’s made through a thorough fermentation process to ensure longevity and potency. It also includes vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, enzymes, and amino acids to support digestive function.
I tried to manage my expectations when I first started taking probiotics because it just seemed too easy of a fix. Call me a cynic I guess. However, after a week of taking them…I stopped breaking out. Seriously. It just stopped. The current breakouts didn’t miraculously go away but it was so much easier to deal with vs. having new stuff pop up all the time out of nowhere. Slowly but surely my face was finally started to clear up and I haven’t broken out since. I’ve been taking probiotics consistently for almost 3 months now and not only has it helped my skin, but my digestion issues have been cured as well! A helpful tip if you are wanting to try out this particular probiotic, start off by taking 2 capsules on an empty stomach (for about a week) so that your body can get a higher dosage of good bacteria to regulate and then you can cut back to one capsule a day. I absolutely love this brand and everything that they stand for; you can read more about them here if you want! I got mine off of Amazon, but I have seen them sold at Whole Foods as well. Other brands that are worth checking out are Life & Food Advanced Strength, Renew Life Ultimate Flora, Nutrition Essentials, and Hyperbiotics PRO-15.
If you feel like you have tried everything to help your skin but nothing has really worked, I would highly suggest trying out probiotics since it’s pretty low-risk in terms of side effects. I feel like we are trained to think serums, spot treatments, masks, etc. are always the answer to skin issues but taking a more holistic approach to your skincare can actually help tremendously with prevention. I really hope that my experience can help someone out there that has been struggling with their skin, because I seriously could not wait to write this post and get the information out there!