Ingredient Spotlight: Prebiotics

When we hear prebiotics and probiotics, our minds typically go straight to breakfast foods and our gut, right? But what if we told you that the nifty ingredient might be your ticket to happy skin, too. We know, it’s another skincare term to learn, but trust us when we say it’s well worth it. Today, we’re specifically focusing on prebiotics and exploring exactly how they can help keep our skin barrier and skin’s microbiome looking and feeling its best by keeping the bacteria and microorganisms on the top layer of our skin healthy. 

What is prebiotic skincare?

Before diving into the specifics, let’s quickly clear up the difference between prebiotics and probiotics. The two have the same outcome in helping to keep the skin’s microbiome in good condition, which means your skin is free from inflammation, but they work in slightly different ways; often in synergy with one another to get the best possible outcome. Probiotic skincare essentially gives the skin good bacteria but needs to contain live microorganisms to have a worthwhile effect; as you can imagine, this is easier said than done. 

Prebiotics, on the other hand, don’t need to be live as it comes, they are ingredients that instead feed or activate the skin’s pre-existing microorganisms. Think of it as restoring the bacteria’s balance in the skin. 

Common prebiotic ingredients include inulin, glycerol, xylitol, alpha-glucan oligosaccharides, and glucomannan (a supplement extracted from konjac), as well as a number of plant extracts, including barely, oats, flaxseed. This is good news if you look for vegan-friendly skincare, as these ingredients are plant-based. 

How does prebiotic skincare work?

Although prebiotics work differently on the skin than consumed as food or supplement, the premise is the same. Prebiotics in skincare support the existing microorganisms living on your skin that improves the overall health of your complexion. That’s because they keep the bad stuff (pollution, free radicals, and bacteria) and the good stuff in by protecting and maintaining that healthy outer layer of the skin. 

There is still lots of research to be done, but it’s thought that treating the microbiome on your skin topically is more effective than supplements taken orally for the specific purpose of improving the skin because you’re getting straight to the source. Having said that, a healthy gut equals healthy skin so taking a prebiotic supplement is always a good idea. 

Why should I use prebiotic skincare?

There are plenty of prebiotic skincare benefits making it a well-worth addition to your routine. Thanks to its ability to rebalance and restore the skin’s microbiome, it’s generally safe (and excellent) for all skin types, including many skin conditions, including acne, rosacea, and eczema. Caring for the skin’s microbiome and barrier means that many of your skin concerns are also taken care of. Think: reduced fine lines, minimised dullness, and decreased redness and inflammation. So really, anyone can get the benefits of prebiotic skincare, especially when combined with calming, moisturising ingredients like cica, centella asiatica, and glycerin

When should I use prebiotic skincare?

Prebiotic skincare often comes in the form of moisturising creams and lotions, serums, cleansers, and sometimes masks. As well as coming in oral supplements to tackle gut issues from the inside out. The great news is that you can use prebiotic skincare any time; morning or evening and at any stage in your routine, depending on the product you’re using. 


As with any new product you’re introducing, do so when using other products in your routine that you know and trust. That way, you can easily tell whether your new, prebiotic product is having a positive impact on your skin, or whether it’s not one that’s doing your complexion any favours. 

Try these...


For sensitive skin types, it can be hard finding a cleanser that removes makeup and grime without stripping the skin or leaving it feeling dry. Over-cleansing can disrupt the skin barrier so doing it with prebiotics in the formula helps keep it in tip top shape. 


Think of this Dr Jart+ Treatment as a 2-in-1: it uses its colour correcting element to conceal redness (which is particularly great for rosacea-prone skin) and the skin-friendly ingredients like cica, prebiotics, and glycerin to keep the skin barrier at its best.   


If you’re looking to get a supplement to improve the overall condition of your skin (as opposed to wanting to target specific skin concerns), then a supplement like this Zitsticka one is great. It’s a bit of a does-it-all supplement working to control sebum levels and reduce irritation in the skin. 


To melt away makeup, there’s nothing quite like a micellar product that attracts the dirt and lifts it away. This precleanse formula takes everything we love about micellar water and combines it with the comforting properties of a creamy cleanser — expertly removing makeup without disrupting the delicate skin barrier. 


This beautiful serum is your one-way ticket to soothed, radiant and balanced skin thanks to a combination of prebiotics, niacinamide, and centella asiatica. 


Similarly to the other one, this oral supplement is fantastic at tackling the skin from the inside out. It works to target the gut (ideal for those wanting to address digestive issues), which helps to keep the skin feeling radiant, clear and balanced. 


Aside from having fun packaging, this essence (which, if you’re not familiar, is like a supercharged serum) does a fantastic job at protecting the skin from environmental stressors and, in turn, keeping our skin feeling happy and free from irritation.