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Prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics - what's the difference?

Understanding and supporting your microbiome's health has become more and more mainstream when it comes to skincare, but that doesn't make it easier to understand. Even though you hear more about the microbiome, you might be wondering what exactly it is and why it's so crucial for our skin and overall health. This week, we're decoding what prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics are and why they are necessary for your health.

What's the microbiome?

Your body plays host to various microbes, including viruses, fungi, and bacteria, with the majority being bacteria. In fact, 50% of the cells in your body are bacterial cells! This might sound terrifying, but it's actually a good thing. These bacteria are necessary for our health. They digest our food, synthesize essential nutrients, regulate our mood, and train our immune system, among many other benefits. Researchers even refer to our microbiomes as a supporting organ due to the array of necessary functions it performs.

Most bacteria live in the gut, but the skin also has its microbiome known as the skin flora. Everyone's skin microbiome is unique and varies depending on location, age, diet, genetics, and whether the area is oily, moist, or dry. When the microbiome becomes disrupted, an overgrowth of one or a few specific bacterial species can occur, leading to a disruption in the skin barrier function and conditions like acne and eczema. 

What are probiotics?

The beneficial bacteria that make up your microbiome are called probiotics. Probiotics provide benefits to the body, whether by aiding in digestion or supporting skin barrier health. They also protect your body by preventing bad bacteria from taking over and keep your body healthy and functioning correctly. 

What are prebiotics?

Like other forms of life, bacteria need nutrients to survive and grow. Prebiotics are the food and nutrients that your probiotics use to survive. In skincare, prebiotics are formulated into products to support the growth of one or a few beneficial species that are considered helpful for skin health. Prebiotics will help strengthen the good bacteria to fight off the bad. 

What are postbiotics?

Postbiotics are another component of the microbiome that plays a role in how it functions. Postbiotics are small molecules that are produced and secreted by probiotics. Some of these postbiotics are standard components like lactic acid and acetic acid, helping maintain the skin's low pH. Bacteria "digest" prebiotics and convert them into postbiotics to fight off bad bacteria. The Dermala CLEANSE with Benefits AM/PM Cleanser and SCANTILY Pad AM/PM Acne Treatment are formulated with the Dermala SE Microbiome Complex that combines prebiotics with postbiotics to maintain skin health.

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