Practical Probiotics: Live Microbial Skin Benefits Without Limits


Click through to the September 2019 digital magazine to read the complete article.

Editor’s note: Readers should note the World Health Organization (WHO) defines a probiotic as a living organism. Here, however, the described probiotic, while retaining the structures of its living counterpart, is not in fact alive; although the authors report its activities behave as such and the ingredient imparts the benefits of a living entity.

Driven by modern lifestyle and the eclectic evolution of new technologies, consumers are aware of the potential skin damage environmental stressors can induce. As such, consumers increasingly seek topical products that improve skin’s endogenous first-line defense mechanisms.

In relation, the concept of probiotics to improve gut health is well-established in both the scientific literature and consumer perception.1 In fact, 79% of consumers already believe the use of probiotics is beneficial for skin health2 and 63% of consumers think probiotics fit well into the beauty care category. Regardless, the benefits of microorganisms applied topically are not widely described.

According to the WHO, probiotics are living microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.3 However, in order to maintain live bacteria in cosmetic formulations, preservatives must be omitted; this results in considerable problems with handling, storage and the safety of respective finished market products. To circumvent these hurdles, the present authors sought to develop a probiotic-derived ingredient combining the skin health benefits of a living probiotic with the physical advantages of a classical cosmetic ingredient; i.e., being relatively easy to use and compatible in a wide range of cosmetic formulations and applications.

In a broad screening stepa, a specific Lactobacillus strain was identified for topical applications: Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL19. This strain initially was isolated and identifiedb from the gut of a healthy Swedish individual. After biofermentation, downstream processing including mild heat treatment and spray drying were used to prohibit further bacterial growth while also maintaining the now nonliving bacteria structures. The resulting processed probiotic could be handled as a traditional cosmetic ingredient in many different types of formulations, even those protected by preservatives (data not shown), while also delivering living probiotic-like skin health benefits, as will be shown.

Materials and Methods

Heat-treated microbes: Living freeze-dried Lactobacillus were obtainedb. After cultivation, the bacteria were centrifuged and pasteurized under mild conditions. The water was then removed from the slurry by procedural drying.


    1. Reid, G., Younes, J. A., Van der Mei, H. C., Gloor, G. B., Knight, R. and Busscher, H. J. (2011). Retrieved from
    2. Symrise (2017). Internal Cosmetic Ingredients Consumer Study (CICS).
    3. FAO/WHO (2001). Definition of probiotics. Retrieved from

Click through to the September 2019 digital magazine to read the complete article.

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