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A little over two years ago, I went to a beauty event put on by a popular luxe skincare brand. The swanky event was promoting the brand’s newest skincare innovation. The product, the brand reps said, was created from green tea leaves that were naturally fermented and dried, then slow filtered to create an “essence” to sooth and heal your skin.
“Face kombucha,” I told my friend with disbelief after the event. “They are trying to make face kombucha a thing.”
And it worked. “Face kombucha” has exploded in popularity since then, with kombucha-rich skincare products lining the walls of Sephoras and Ultas around the nation. But the most surprising thing is that the ingredient is not a trendy gimmick. Kombucha is probiotic-heavy, helping to foster the growth of good bacteria — and that “good bacteria” actually does something pretty special for your skin.
“Probiotics in skincare optimize the healing benefits of our skin’s good bugs," dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe told Forbes in 2019. "This includes acting as a protective shield against bad bacteria, dialing down inflammation, preventing premature aging in skin, among other things.”
Topical probiotics have long been used in K-Beauty, but until recently have been relatively unheard of in mainstream U.S. brands. Dermatologist Shasa Hu, M.D. told Shape in 2019 that studies support the benefits of probiotics in “inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and acne” because it regulates the skin’s microbiome. Studies theorize that probiotics can help the skin defend against damage, dryness and UV damage. It also is a particularly helpful skincare ingredient for those with sensitive or inflamed skin.
Many kombucha products come in the form of essences, mists or toners, which basically are a shelf-stable version of the kombucha you drink. Some brands, however, use fermented tea as an added ingredient in masks and serums, getting the benefits of probiotics along with other ingredients.
If you want to try “face kombucha” for yourself to experience the power of probiotics, here are some highly-rated products to consider.