Wait, People Slathering Kombucha Scoby on Their Face Has to Be Peak Wellness, Right?

Photo: Getty Images/Tim Robberts
I refused to drink kombucha for a very long time. Not because it has a funky, acquired taste... but because it has a weird glob floating around in it that can easily sneak into your mouth. I'm shuddering in utter disgust just thinking about it.

That glob is called a scoby, and it's actually how kombucha—the gut-friendly wellness beverage that delivers a healthy dose of probiotics to your system—is made. BTW, it's not just a weird name for the hell of it (although "scoby" does kinda match what it looks like IRL)—it's actually an acronym for "symbiotic culture of bacteria." Not that it makes it any more appetizing.

Anywho, I bring up the mysterious, bacteria cultured-item because I've been hearing murmurs in the beauty world about people slathering scoby onto their skin for a... glow. After vomiting, I began thinking about it, and it started to make sense in my skin-care obsessed brain. First of all, probiotics on your skin is a good thing. They support the healthy microbiome that keeps your skin barrier in tact and thriving. And fermented beauty makes skin-care products more bioavailable. So a scoby is just a perfect mix of the two that'd only bestow your complexion with radiance, no?

"Topically applied probiotics can have a really positive effect for many skin conditions by helping regulate the pH and by balancing the appropriate bacterial flora on the skin," says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board certified dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology. "The fermentation process it undergoes can also be good for the skin." This is in terms of the scoby, though, not the kombucha itself, which can irritate sensitive skin, she says.

But another derm I asked, Dr. Mona Gohara, says that while the scoby itself doesn't have that many probiotic benefits, "it perhaps has antioxidants which can fight free radical damage from the sun and pollution." Okay.

However! Before you begin saving your scobies in a jar (which, as I recently discovered, is known as a "Scoby hotel," and BRB I'm vomiting again) for the sake of your skin-care routine, pause for a second. As Dr. Nazarian and I said before, you could just stock up on probiotic-infused and fermented beauty products instead... which might be more appealing. You know? Also, I asked yet another derm, Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, and this was his response: "Ha! That's crazy talk." So suit yourself in your scoby journey.

You can use your gut-health drink in other ways, of course—here's a boozy kombucha punch recipe. And here's how to make healthy kombucha muffins

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