Ever since I discovered that fermented foods are key for a happy, healthy gut, I’ve been downing the kombucha and eating all of the sauerkraut and kimchi I can. After all, that fermentation gives a serious boost of probiotics and other microbiome-friendly materials while giving off that tangy, tangy taste.
And then I started hearing whisperings of using fermented ingredients on your face. Say wha? Probiotics are good for your skin, so it does make sense that fermented beauty products are blowing up in the skin-care aisles.
“I love recommending products with fermented ingredients because the fermentation process gives them a super boost,” raves Angelina Umansky, skin-care guru and founder of Spa Radiance. Their main glow-inducing superpower is that they’re way more bioavailable than other skin-care ingredients, due to their molecule size. “When fermented elements are added to natural beauty products, the microbes break down the molecules into a smaller, more absorbable size,” says Umansky. This means the ingredients are better able to do their job, whether it’s fighting acne or fighting free radicals.
Their main glow-inducing superpower is that they’re way more bioavailable than other skin-care ingredients, due to their molecule size.
Shannon McLinden, founder of clean beauty brand Farmhouse Fresh, agrees, noting that the fermentation process releases more microorganisms with boosted antioxidant content. “When I work with a mung bean, for instance, the same profile of antioxidant and phenolic compounds get boosted, which is really vital. What’s super exciting about fermentation is that you can take a superfood—something that already has awesome nutritional value—and then boost it,” she says. Essentially, that means that the more available antioxidants and minerals are, the better they help your skin fight free radicals—or the culprits behind discoloration, collagen degradation, loss of elasticity, and fine lines.
Derms are fans too, noting that the fermentation process also helps to neutralize onerous components of natural extracts. “In this way, fermentation helps skin-care products enhance the beneficial properties typically attributed to natural extracts including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects,” says Craig Kaffert, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and president of Amarte Skin Care. “The most commonly cited benefits of fermented extracts in skin-care products are skin calming and brightening, as well as enhanced vascular stability.” He adds that you typically see the same skin perks with other extracts in beauty products, but “in some cases, fermentation can enhance the potency of these effects.”
Look for fermented extracts of all sorts on your beauty bottle, from green tea to black tea and mushrooms. “Mushrooms are hot right now—many different species of mushrooms,” says Dr. Kaffert. “Fermented mushroom extracts are widely praised for their calming effects on the skin.” But you’ll see it in a number of forms. So, looks like both my diet and my skin-care regimen will be packed with fermented goodies from now on.
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