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Probiotic cosmetics


Probiotic products have been part of our nutrition for quite some time. 

Also in the cosmetic field the issue has become more and more important for quite some time now - a fact that can primarily be attributed to new findings on the microbiome of the skin.

Martina Grams, Training Manager at KOKO Kosmetikvertrieb GmbH & Co. KG asked Dr Jürgen Kloss, Head of R&D, on his opinion on the market development of probiotic cosmetic preparations.

M. Grams: How does probiotic skin care work and what are the main active agents?

Dr Kloss: The term "probiotic" is composed of the Latin word "pro" and the Greek word "bios" and literally speaking means "for the life". We also differentiate between probiotic and prebiotic products. Probiotic products contain living microorganisms. Prebiotic components serve as nutrition for microorganisms and frequently consist of non-digestible fibre components. Often they are oligo- and polysaccharides. A very popular prebiotic today is inulin gained from chicory (alias witloof, witlof, Belgian endive).
Human beings coexist with the microorganisms which in their entirety are identified as microbiome. It is assumed that the microbiome has more cells than the human body. The number of microorganisms on the skin varies from about 100/cm2 on the fingertips up to 2,000,000/cm2 in the armpits. The metabolic activity of microorganisms immediately influences our skin condition.
If you apply a probiotic raw material on the skin it can contribute to a healthy skin flora and possibly strengthen the skin barrier. Frequently used are preparations with lactic acid bacteria.

M. Grams: Does healthy skin need probiotic skin care?

Dr Kloss: In the context of the microbiome we differentiate between eubiosis and dysbiosis. In the eubiotic state the epidermis is in balance with its microbiome. In the dysbiotic state the microbial balance went off the rails. With a healthy skin we can presuppose eubiosis, or in other words we can assume an optimal balance in the skin.
That is why we could also ask the provocative question: "Does the healthy skin need cosmetic skin care at all? " Prevention of dysbiosis is the domain of application for cosmetic products - in other words "Giving the skin what it needs in order to stay healthy." That is why the components and their properties have a major significance for the skin. The preventive skin care concentrates on physiological as well as on microbiome-compatible ingredients.

M. Grams: Exaggerated skin cleansing, stress, pharmaceutical drugs and negative environmental impacts affect the skin flora. Can probiotics have balancing effects?

Dr Kloss: The above-mentioned conditions suggest a dysbiotic condition. Probiotic products then can contribute their part to normalize a disordered skin flora. It is still more important, however, to change counterproductive habits. Besides the well-founded skin analysis also detailed expertise and attentiveness to the body's needs are required in order to track down individual disorders. The answer to the problem often just consists in reducing the skin care routine to the bare necessities.

M. Grams: Would a yoghurt mask solve a dysbiosis problem?

Dr Kloss: It would probably be beneficial if the mask contains living cultures. It certainly would only be part of the solution since the microflora of the skin is very complex and accommodates a plethora of different microorganisms that react in various ways to external influences. It is still more important to identify and eliminate the triggers of the disorders.

M. Grams: Is probiotic cosmetics suitable for all skin types?

Dr Kloss: Well, basically yes. However it should also be kept in mind that even the best products are not suitable for all skin types. There always are exceptions, though. Just think of simple parameters like the lipid content of products.
Also the interaction between skin microbiome and endogenous antimicrobial peptides (AMP) is an important factor. Further details can be found on our website:

M. Grams: Thank you very much for your estimation, Dr Kloss!

Please note: The contribution is based on the state of the art at the revision date.

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Revision: 27.05.2021