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What Are Natural Prebiotics? Benefits & Uses

Geraldine Orentas


When you think of prebiotics, think of them as fertilizer for good bacteria -- essentially, they are 'food' for our good bacteria strains. They are non-digestible compounds that feed and support healthy bacteria, in addition to keeping harmful bacteria in check.

One of our favorite natural prebiotics is inulin. It can help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria in favor of probiotics, aka friendly living bacteria, on the skin. Many vegetables and fruits contain inulin, which has extensive benefits for our gastrointestinal health and our skin. While inulin’s use in skincare products is relatively new, it shows promising benefits for restoring the skin’s microbiome and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. 

As prebiotic and probiotic skincare products continue to expand, finding new formulations with inulin in their ingredients is not surprising. Keep reading to learn more about this mighty but helpful fiber and how it can benefit you, both internally and on your skin.

What is Inulin?

Inulin is a fermentable fiber found in many roots and foods, such as chicory roots and artichokes. When inulin reaches the gut microbiome, it ferments, turning it into a prebiotic, feeding the healthy bacteria in the gut. Inulin is a popular ingredient in skincare products that boasts many benefits to the skin’s microbiome and moisture levels. 

Benefits for the Skin

Since inulin is a natural humectant that helps draw water from the environment into the skin, it promotes hydration. It also has skin-conditioning properties that help smooth and calm the skin’s surface. Its prebiotic properties can also help fight acne, redness, irritation, and aging. 

When combined with probiotics, inulin can help promote a healthier-looking complexion. Some of the benefits of using inulin on the skin include:

1. Fight Free Radical Damage

Jerusalem artichoke has a lot of inulin. Extracts of this plant have been shown to have a free radical scavenging ability to help control its levels on the skin. It also helps in the generation of new skin cells. 

As you might know, free radicals can break down the skin’s collagen and elastin fibers, making our skin prone to sag or wrinkle, and become pigmented. Like vitamin C and other antioxidants, inulin can have extensive antioxidant properties that help maintain healthy skin cells and reverse free radical damage. 

2. Maintain Skin Moisture Balance

Inulin keeps the skin hydrated. The prebiotic properties in inulin help restore a healthy bacterial flora, preserving a healthy appearance of the skin. Dry skin can often lead to many skin issues, including sensitivity and wrinkles. When inulin extracts were added to body washes, one test showed that inulin decreased the levels of skin irritation by approximately 40% compared to washes without inulin. 

Another study looked at participants with dry skin. After over-washing their underarms for two weeks to induce washing stress, they continued using a prebiotic recovery cream for two more weeks. After the trial, those using the inulin-rich product showed improved skin conditions, particularly when it came to moisture and elasticity. 

3. Balances the Skin’s Microbiome

Billions of microorganisms call the surface of our skin home; they all make up what we know as the skin’s microbiome. This colony of microbes creates a protective barrier on our skin that guards it against harmful bacteria or pathogens, as well as UV ray damage, pollution, domestic chemicals, and free radicals. When the skin’s microbiome is disrupted, skin conditions like redness, sensitivity, rosacea, and acne are likely to appear. 

Inulin can help feed the good bacteria already living on our skin to restore the microbiome’s balance. Inulin aids in the proliferation of two beneficial bacteria: Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. Both help fight unwanted pathogens, prevent infections and stimulate our immune system. 

4. Help Restore Damage Caused by Preservatives

In skincare, products with synthetic preservatives can often destroy all living bacteria on the surface - including the good kind. When this happens, the skin’s microbiome can lose its natural balance. 

Older skin has a reduced microbial population because of the slower proliferation of good bacteria. Inulin-infused products can help restore and even improve the skin microbiome in the presence of disturbing preservatives. 

How is Inulin Used in Skincare?

You can easily find inulin supplements to incorporate into your diet for your health. Inulin-rich foods like chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, asparagus, and wheat are excellent sources that you can add to your diet. 

Skincare products like our Prebiotic Foaming Cleanser, formulated with inulin (from chicory root), can help your probiotics work more efficiently. Inulin can be particularly helpful if you have sensitive and dry or acne-prone skin. Its moisturizing and calming properties can help balance a disrupted microbiome to restore balance and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. 

Our Prebiotic Acne Lotion with Salicylic Acid also combines a powerful blend of prebiotics to balance the microbiome. Specifically, inulin lauryl carbamate acts as an emulsifier to help stabilize the formula and prevent excess dryness. 

Other ways to incorporate inulin would be through serums and moisturizers. 

The Takeaway

Prebiotics are fertilizer for good bacteria -- and one of our favorite natural prebiotics is inulin. It can help reduce the growth of harmful bacteria in favor of good bacteria and help your microbiome stay balanced.

The skin microbiome is a very delicate environment. Things in our environment like UV rays and pollution are constantly attacking the skin’s barrier. Harsh skincare products with parabens, synthetic preservatives and damaging antimicrobial properties can also destroy your skin’s microbial ecosystem. 

Mother Dirt’s products promote a healthy skin barrier and protect the delicate skin microbiome. With microbiome-friendly skincare products, our goal is to restore and protect your microbiome. 

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Prebiotic Foaming Cleanser

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Prebiotic Acne Lotion with Salicylic Acid

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