How Do Topical Probiotics Work for Acne?

Geraldine Orentas

Ask anyone who suffers from acne and odds are they’ve tried everything under the sun to heal their breakouts. Some of them may already use probiotic supplements to improve their gut health and balance the gut-skin axis. But, research shows that topical probiotics may help acne sufferers find another layer of protection that finally cures their acne. 

A new army of skincare products with probiotic infusions make promising claims in the never-ending fight against acne. With research by their side, facial cleansers, moisturizers and serums alike promise to soothe inflammation and reduce acne flare-ups by rebalancing your skin’s microbiome. 

Let’s dig deeper to get the dirt on how topical probiotics work for acne and find out how to create skincare for acne using probiotic-rich products. 

The Skin Microbiome

Like our gut bacteria, the skin has its own collection of microbes that make up the skin microbiome. Common bacteria on the skin include Staphylococci, Corynebacteria, Propionibacterium, Brevibacterium and Micrococci.

However, the skin also hosts Propionibacterium acnes, a famous acne-causing bacteria that can trigger inflammatory reactions. When these bad bacteria overpopulate our skin, it can cause an imbalance of the skin’s microbiome and trigger acne breakouts. 

Besides acne, an imbalance in the skin’s microbiome can also lead to conditions such as eczema, rosacea and atopic dermatitis. 

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics help promote the growth of healthy bacteria in our bodies. True probiotics are live microorganisms we can find in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and kombucha. They can help restore the gut microbiome, regulate digestion, fight harmful bacteria, and strengthen our immune system when taken by mouth. 

And Topical Probiotics?

Just as oral probiotics restore the flora in the gut, topical probiotics can help promote a positive bacterial balance in the skin. The use of topical probiotics can be highly beneficial for specific skin conditions.

Topical probiotics often feature fermented ingredients that are rich in good bacteria. Our AO+ Restorative Mist contains true probiotics, meaning live microorganisms that help restore the skin microbiome balance. Our Mist combats blemish causing bacteria and can be found in The Difference: Our Active Probiotic System Acne Treatment Kit.

    What Causes Acne?

    Acne is a chronic skin condition that’s the result of various factors. One of these factors is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria that feeds off the excess oil on the skin’s surface. Propionibacterium acnes is, in most cases, the bacteria that trigger the infection of pimples and acne. However, research suggests different probiotic strains and different bacteria can affect the severity and frequency of acne. 

    Other factors including hormones, genetics, menstruation, emotional stress, and using comedogenic cosmetics

    Benefits of Topical Probiotics for Acne

    According to the American Academy of Dermatology, probiotics can be highly beneficial for the treatment of acne and other chronic skin conditions. Not only is rebalancing the microbiome important in the treatment of acne, but supplementing with topical probiotic skincare can be the ultimate combination to fight the contributing factors in the acne process

    1. Reduce Inflammation

    One of the most significant benefits of topical probiotics is their power to fight inflammation. The American Nutrition Association also notes that gut imbalance and inflammation in the gut can lead to acne breakouts. Oral and topical probiotics can fight back against this inflammation and reverse microbial damage caused by antibiotics. 

    Acne-causing bacteria are often the precursor of this inflammation on the skin. Evidence suggests that treating acne-prone skin with probiotics can reduce lesions and a balanced microbial community. 

    2. Rebalance the Microbiome

    The Pharmaceutical Journal states that the use of prebiotics and probiotics can be beneficial for treating acne. Studies show that applying topical probiotics can help restore the skin’s microbiome, decrease acne-causing bacteria, and effectively treat acne. Trying out Prebiotic Acne Lotion with salicylic acid is a great way to fight acne -- this lotion can also be found in The Difference: Our Active Probiotic System Acne Treatment Kit.

    Probiotics can strengthen the skin’s barrier while preserving the perfect balance on the skin’s surface to prevent inflammation and irritation that causes breakouts and pimples. Protecting the skin’s natural barrier function can guard itself against environmental pathogens trying to feed on the excess sebum on the skin and trigger breakouts. 

    3. Control Sensitivity

    Disruption of skin barrier function is a known side effect of many acne medications, including topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide. 

    Thanks to their anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, topical probiotics can help calm and soothe the skin to control sensitivity. By strengthening the skin’s barriers, probiotics help the skin build resilience against everyday stressors that cause sensitivity. 

    Probiotics also boost ceramides and healthy fats to help trap moisture in the skin, which can help reduce irritation, particularly in dry or sensitive skin. 

    4. Reduce Scarring

    One of the downfalls of acne is scarring. Pimples, breakouts and skin picking can lead to acne scars. Recent studies suggest that applying topical probiotics can help rebuild the skin’s surface and promote healthy cell turnover to reduce the appearance of lesions and acne scars. 

    Probiotics can also help reduce oxidative stress, which is a typical response to exposure to free radicals. Free radicals can damage the skin and slow down its regenerative process. Probiotics can help reverse some of the damage, restoring the skin’s natural glow. 

    The Best Probiotic Skincare Routine for Acne

    Putting together a skincare routine for acne with topical probiotics is easy. Choosing products that help treat acne-prone skin is the first step. So, you’ll want to step away from products with irritating ingredients like synthetic fragrances, alcohol and comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients. 

    Try The Difference: Our Active System Probiotic Acne Treatment Kit, which works in three steps:

  • Step 1–Cleanse: Our Prebiotic Foaming Cleanser remove impurities while balancing your skin’s pH levels and promoting a healthy skin microbiome. Rosewater, inulin and lactic acid help brighten, smooth, and even skin to reveal a healthier-looking complexion. 
  • Step 2–Treat: Once your skin is clean and dry, it’s time to treat those acne breakouts with our Prebiotic Acne Lotion. It's formulated with salicylic acid to treat acne and clarify the skin along with prebiotics to help restore balance to the skin microbiome. 
  • Step 3–Balance: To fully enjoy the benefits of topical probiotics, you need to incorporate true probiotics, meaning live cultures. Our AO+ Restorative Mist contains live probiotics to rebalance your skin’s microbiome, combat blemish-causing bacteria and restore the levels of beneficial bacteria on your skin. 
  • Share Article



    shop this story

    Find Products Referenced in this Article

    The Difference Probiotic Acne Kit

    $99.00 USD Add to bag

    Prebiotic Acne Lotion with Salicylic Acid

    $32.00 USD Add to bag

    AO+ Restorative Mist

    $69.00 USD Add to bag