You may have heard of fermented foods like miso, kombucha, or kefir that have beneficial properties for the gut. But now, fermented ingredients are also making their way into skin care products and promise to work wonders for your skin. In this episode with Benjamin Knight Fuchs, R.Ph, we discuss what fermented skin care is and whether it really does benefit the skin.
The beauty industry encompasses businesses and services geared toward helping people look their best, but the industry is profoundly changing as people look past the surface to learn about systemic change and how to care for the skin from within. In this session, recorded live from the ASCP Skin Care School Forum, Ben discusses the future of skin health and designing the best you. This session also examines the link between good nutrition and healthy, glowing skin. Can we turn back the hands of time by adjusting our diet?
Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) presents The Rogue Pharmacist with Benjamin Knight Fuchs, R.Ph. This podcast takes an enlightening approach to supporting licensed estheticians in their pursuit to achieve results-driven skin care treatments for their clients. You can always count on us to share professional skin care education, innovative techniques, and the latest in skin science.
About Benjamin Knight Fuchs, RPh:
Benjamin Knight Fuchs is a registered pharmacist, nutritionist, and skin care chemist with 35 years of experience developing pharmacy-potent skin health products for estheticians, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons. Ben’s expert advice gives licensed estheticians the education and skin science to better support the skin care services performed in the treatment room while sharing insights to enhance clients’ at-home skin care routines.
Connect with Ben Fuchs:
About Our Sponsor:
The popular and revolutionary LAMPROBE utilizes radio and high-frequency technology to treat a wide variety of Minor Skin Irregularities™ (MSI)—non-invasively—with instantaneous results. Common conditions treated by the LAMPROBE include: vascular MSI, such as cherry angiomas; dilated capillaries; sebaceous MSI, including cholesterol deposits and milia; and hyperkerantinized MSI, such as keratoses and skin tags.
The LAMPROBE uniquely assists modern, capable, and skilled skin care practitioners to do their work more effectively and with greater client and professional satisfaction. Setting standards in quality, education, and training, the LAMPROBE has become an essential tool enabling skin care practitioners around the world to offer new revenue-enhancing and highly in-demand services.
Connect with LAMPROBE:
0:00:00.0 Speaker 1: This podcast is sponsored by LAMPROBE. LAMPROBE is a popular aesthetic tool that enables skincare practitioners to rapidly treat a wide variety of common, minor skin irregularities or MSI. Red MSI treated by LAMPROBE include dilated capillaries and cherry angiomas, yellow MSI, cholesterol deposits and sebaceous hyperplasia. And brown MSI treated include skin tags and more. LAMPROBE MSI treatments are non-invasive and deliver immediate results. LAMPROBE can empower your skin practice with these new and highly in demand services. For more information, visit LAMPROBE.com. That's L-A-M-P-R-O-B-E.com and follow LAMPROBE on social media at LAMPROBE.
0:00:55.5 Maggie Staszcuk: Welcome everybody to ASCP and The Rogue Pharmacist with Benjamin Knight Fuchs. In each episode, we will explore how ingredients, chemicals and the environment can have positive and negative effects on the skin. I'm Maggie Staszcuk a Cosmetology education manager and speaking with Ben today about fermented skin care.
0:01:14.7 Benjamin Knight Fuchs: Mm.
0:01:15.0 MS: So Ben share with us. I know nothing about this topic.
0:01:17.8 BF: Okay. So what is fermentation first of all? Fermentation is a way that cells, usually primitive cells obtain energy. Advanced cells obtain energy through something called oxidation, which is a much more advanced process and creates a lot more energy. Primitive cells don't have that capability and they use... They obtain energy through the fermentation process, which without getting into too much biochemistry is a way of converting sugar into what's called ATP. You probably heard of ATP.
0:01:45.9 MS: Oh yeah. That's like energy source of the cell or something?
0:01:48.6 BF: Yeah. They are called the energy currency. And so when a cell needs energy to perform a function, it does it via ATP. ATP is the way energy is stored in the body. And so they call ATP the energy currency. And making ATP is the very essence of the mitochondria. And making ATP is how the body... Or using ATP is how all the cells of the body work. So the mitochondria make ATP and they make ATP through two processes. One is a process of burning sugar. One is a process of burning oxygen, of utilizing oxygen. So you've heard of the term anaerobic and aerobic. Aerobic means you're using oxygen. Anaerobic means you're not using oxygen. So classic example of fermentation is when you're lifting weights or you're running, or you're doing some kind of exercise and you're fine, you're lifting weights. And then all of a sudden you feel this burn going on. What's happening is your muscle cells have run outta oxygen and now they're burning sugar.
0:02:45.3 MS: Okay.
0:02:45.8 BF: And one of the byproducts of burning sugar is lactic acid, there is acid, and so you're feeling the burn. So what does this got to do with the skin and what does it got to do with skincare? Well, it turns out that there are cells, skin cells will... When they're healthy will get energy from oxidation. But there are creatures that live on the skin that get energy from fermentation. See fermentation is a much more primitive way of obtaining energy, and this is how bacteria obtain their energy. So when you talk about fermented skin care, what you're really talking about is bacteria skin care. And over the last few years, we've realized... In the last few years, last 20 or 30 years, we've realized that bacteria play a major role in the body. Now, you know about the microbiome in the intestine, we've talked about that before.
0:03:29.6 MS: Mm-hmm. Right.
0:03:30.2 BF: And microbiome in the intestine is the universe of bacteria, many trillions and trillions of bacteria. In fact, there's more bacterial cells in your intestine than there are human cells in your body. These bacteria make vitamins for us. They process food for us. They crosstalk to the cells of the intestine. They communicate to the cells of the intestine. They make chemicals that the body can use and the brain can use. They have a wide ranging role of health effects in the body that we've only come to realize over the last 30 years, as I say, if you did a Google search for probiotics in 1990, you wouldn't get any hits, today, you get millions and millions of hits because we're now understanding how important these bacteria are. Well, it turn... And by the way, it's not just bacteria that live in the body, the bacteria that live in the body, in the lungs and in the intestine, they comprise what's called the microbiome. You've heard of this term?
0:04:22.8 MS: Mm-hmm. Sure. Okay.
0:04:23.2 BF: Well, it turns out you have a mycobiome as well, which is the universe of fungus that live in the body.
0:04:30.6 MS: Oh, interesting.
0:04:30.7 BF: So you have lots of fungus all over your body. And sometimes people will say, "Oh, I have a fungal infection. Oh, how do I get rid of candida?" Well, it turns out candida and fungus are important part of your mycobiome. And you don't necessarily want to get rid of fungus, you wanna keep them balanced because in nature, the bacteria balance out the fungus and the fungus balance out the bacteria. In fact, we get antibiotics like penicillin from fungus. Fungus make substances that kill bacteria. They're in this battle. The mycobiome and the microbiome is in a battle. And not only that, but we also have a virome in the body. We have a universe of viruses in the body. And the viruses and the funguses and the bacteria, they're all fighting each other and they're all complimenting each other and they're working together. And there's this kind of ecosystem of microbes that live inside the body, in the lungs and in the digestive tract, in the eyes even.
0:05:22.6 BF: And it turns out you have it on the skin too. And so the microbiome, and the virome and the mycobiome exist in an ecosystem on our skin, as well as they do inside our body. And they're responsible just like they are inside the body for keeping the body healthy, they're responsible for keeping the skin healthy. And it turns out the skin that's not as healthy as it should be, eczematic skin, psoriatic skin, dry skin, older skin is skin that has a disrupted microbiome. There's some kind of disruption going on, not just in the microbiome, but in the whole ecosystem. And so over the last few years, maybe the last 10 years or so, skincare companies have gotten the idea, well, we can just put bacteria in our skincare and we can have microbiome replacing skincare say, there's companies that put bacteria in their skincare products and they'll say, "Okay, here's our microbiome replacing skincare product." It doesn't work for a lot of reasons.
0:06:17.9 BF: First of all, it's very difficult to get bacteria in the skincare product without the bacteria growing. So you don't wanna, you don't necessarily want bacteria in your skin care product.
0:06:28.8 MS: Right.
0:06:29.1 BF: And none of that, if you have a preservative in your skincare product, that's gonna kill the bacteria. So sometimes they'll use bacteria that has been neutralized or bacteria that's somehow been killed and that's supposed to reestablish the microbiome, not so much. The point about disrupted microbiome on the skin is not necessarily the bacteria, as much as it's the terrain of the skin. And this battle between the terrain and the things that grow in the terrain is a really fundamental battle in microbiology and in health. The guy who kind of discovered that there were bacteria that were responsible for creating a lot of effects in biology and in foods for that matter was Louis Pasteur. He was actually a beer maker and he noticed that there were these things called bacteria, or he named them bacteria that played a role in the fermentation of alcohol to make beer. And so he was the first guy who really came up with the idea that bacteria were responsible for disease and rotting and spoiling of food. Before that, we didn't really know what bacteria were, we didn't know what germs were. People, if you had an infection, they didn't really know that there were creatures, little microbes that were causing this infection.
0:07:41.8 BF: So it was kind of a revolutionary idea that there were these living creatures that were responsible for rotting of food and for disease, as well as for the production of alcoholic beverages, like wine and beer. And so Louis Pasteur got this idea, well, if we could kill the bacteria, we could stop disease, which was kind of a good idea, or he actually came up with the idea if we could kill bacteria, we could stop the spoiling food. So that's why we have pasteurization named it after Louis Pasteur. So pasteurized milk for example, he came up with this idea that if we cooked food to a really high temperature, we could kill the bacteria, that's called pasteurization named after Louis Pasteur. But there was a guy who was a colleague of Louis Pasteur, Louis Pasteur lived in the 19th century and there was a colleague of Louis Pasteur named Antoine Béchamp. And he said, "No, Louis Pasteur you're wrong. It is not these things called germs or these bacteria that are causing the problem. It's actually what Béchamp called the terrain, which is the environment that the bacteria live on." Béchamp said, it's the terrain that are responsible for the growth of the bacteria. And you don't wanna work at the disease at the level of the bacteria. You wanna work at it at the level of the terrain of the ground that the bacteria are on.
0:08:56.0 BF: And this was a big battle in the 19th century, but Béchamp and the people who believed Béchamp said, "No, it's the terrain." And Louis Pasteur said, "No, it's the bacteria." And there was this big battle. Well, Louis Pasteur won the war... Won the battle, and that's why we had antibiotics. And that's why we got pasteurization, but famously on his deathbed, Louis Pasteur, supposedly anyway, said that Béchamp was right, it is the terrain. And the way I look at it, it's the terrain. And that's why if the skin has an issue with its microbiome, with its ecosystem of bacteria and fungus and viruses, the answer is to correct the terrain, not to work on the bacteria because the bacteria are changing all the time. The bacteria change with the environment, they change with the food, kind of foods you eat, they change with the specific secretions that your skin is putting out.
0:09:43.6 BF: Not only that, but when we use skincare products, we're actually changing the bacterial population of the skin. So working with bacteria and trying to replace bacteria in skincare products seems kind of like a fool's errand to me, it's much more effective to work on the kind of secretions your skin's making, specifically the fats and the acids, that the skin is making. Keep the skin healthy so that the skin can take care of the bacteria, work on the terrain. Now, that's the bacteria, but bacteria are only one part of the fermentation story. There's also what are called prebiotics, bacteria known as probiotics. That's what we call the kind of bacteria that you take orally, probiotics, but there's also something called prebiotics, and prebiotics are basically sugars that bacteria can feed on. So when you're eating fiber, for example, you're giving your intestine the kind of sugars that bacteria can feed on. And interestingly enough, not only do these fibers feed the bacteria, but the bacteria then produce chemicals called postbiotics. And these postbiotic chemicals play a major role in the health of the body. They play a major role in the health of the brain. They have mood altering effects.
0:11:01.4 BF: They help build muscle. They help you relax and help you go to sleep. There's incredible benefits from postbiotics that are made from the bacterial eating, digesting of the prebiotics. You got three elements here, you got prebiotics, you got the probiotics and you got the postbiotics and it can be somewhat confusing, but they're all important inside the body. On the outside of the body, I think my feeling is with skincare products, focus on prebiotic skincare and postbiotics skincare rather than probiotic skincare. In other words, correct the terrain. So things like Hyaluronic acid, Beta glucan, Saccharide Isomerate, these are sugars, sugar like molecules that you can put on your skin that will modify the terrain so your skin can make its own probiotics or sustain its own probiotic ecosystem. You can also use things like essential fatty acids to make sure that you're making enough moisture factors in fats, hydration of the skin is somewhat depend, I should say bacteria are somewhat dependent on hydration of the skin.
0:12:10.3 BF: So making sure the skin is hydrated. How do you make sure the skin is hydrated? Not with moisturizers, but by strengthening the barrier, that stratum corneum barrier is the main parameter that determines how hydrated the skin will be. So things like, as I say, essential fatty acids, niacin is another very important supplement for helping build that stratum corneum barrier. There's amino acids that can help you make what's called the natural moisture factor. We probably talked about the natural moisture factor. There's a wonderful amino acid called histidine, H-I-S-T-I-D-I-N-E, that's found in high protein foods, or you can get it as a supplement that helps you make the natural moisture factor. In other words, work on the terrain of the skin either by using prebiotics or by using stratum corneum of using lipids and using natural moisture factor building supplements that can help you strengthen the stratum corneum and strengthen the skin surface, making sure you're drinking enough water. These are all strategies for making sure the terrain is conducive to the right kinds of bacteria and the right kind of bacterial ecosystem.
0:13:08.6 BF: Then there's the postbiotics, and these also play a role in skin health. And these are substances that are produced by the probiotics. So prebiotics sustain the probiotics, the probiotics in turn produce postbiotics and postbiotics are... Can be... You could support the postbiotics system by using fruits and vegetables internally, as well as topically. Topical flavonoids, they call them or polyphenols. These are molecules that are found in blueberries, green tea, pomegranate juice, all of these have a postbiotic effect on the skin. So the idea of using bacteria in skincare products, while it kind of makes sense because you have bacteria on your skin. In reality, in practice, it's not really a practical thing to do because as I say, the terrain is important for sustaining these bacteria, making sure that they're viable on the skin, much better, to work on the terrain topically using the sugars that we mentioned and then maybe to support it with postbiotic kinds of ingredients.
0:14:10.4 BF: But once again, don't underestimate the importance of internal nutrition, when it comes to creating the right kind of microbiome on the surface of the skin. And that means things like fiber, that support bacteria inside the body, making sure you're taking a probiotic supplement, making sure you're staying away from food allergens and food toxins working on digestive health, all of these are strategies that will allow you to support a healthy microbiome on the surface of the skin. And, you know, you have a disruption in the microbiome, if you have some kind of skin problem, you could pretty much assume, that there is a disruption in the microbiome.
0:14:45.3 MS: So somebody who is dealing with like eczema, let's say or they've got that Seborrheic dermatitis going on, which is either a fungal issue or a bacterial issue. You mentioned earlier in this show, that they have an imbalance and there's a fight between the fungus and the bacteria.
0:15:01.5 BF: Yeah. One side's winning.
0:15:02.6 MS: Yeah. One side's winning.
0:15:03.6 BF: Yeah.
0:15:03.8 MS: How do you get back to balance? Is that something that you're going to deal with...
0:15:07.3 BF: Internally...
0:15:07.6 MS: Internally?
0:15:08.1 BF: Yeah, internally. The problem with trying to address these things topically, is everything you put on the skin is going to affect the microbiome and you don't really have control over how it's going to affect the microbiome, which is why, my whole philosophy in skincare is, less is more, as you know. When I'm formulating a skincare product, I'm formulating it to have a high concentration, so you only need one drop or two drops. We have to really rethink, this 150 year old notion, of doing skincare by slathering stuff all over your skin, especially, on your face, on your body too, but especially on your face, because there's no way, that you're not going to disrupt the natural ecosystem, probiotic bacterial ecosystem on the skin. When you... By using a skincare product, you have to. Let alone, not even talking about the preservatives, which are designed to kill bacteria, but you have oils that disrupt the natural flora. You have waxes that disrupt the natural flora, even active ingredients can disrupt the natural flora. It's impossible to control that.
0:16:08.5 BF: So when you're using skincare products, I always suggest that you use as little as possible. And don't the... The idea of slathering the skin... Slathering skincare products on, it's like... It's antiquated. The idea of slathering skincare products comes from a time, before we knew about this complex environment ecosystem... Bacterial environment and ecosystem on the surface of the skin. So use skincare products that disturb the natural flora as little as possible. One drop, two drops, if you're gonna exfoliate the skin or if you're gonna do skin peels, make sure that you're taking care of your internal nutrition, so that your bacteria can be repopulated in the... The appropriate bacteria can be repopulated on the skin. And you can pretty much rest assured that, if you have dermatitis or if you have dry skin or stratum corneum disruption or you have acne or you have eczema, that you have a microbiome, a topical microbiome problem.
0:17:01.3 BF: And also now that I think about it, antibiotics that we take orally, that can have a really negative effect on the skin microbiome, as well as the internal microbiome? So be really careful about antibiotics. And don't assume that because you're not taking an antibiotic intentionally, that you're not taking an antibiotic because there's antibiotics in milk, there's antibiotics in ice cream, there's antibiotics in butter, there's antibiotics in fish, there's antibiotics in meat. There's antibiotics... We're like swimming in an ocean of antibiotics. There's antibiotics in our tap water for that matter, which means there's gonna be antibiotics in our orange juice and in our Coke and... It's really hard to get away from the impact of the antibiotics, which is yet another reason to make sure that you're using probiotics on a regular basis. And the way I look at it, a probiotic supplement is an absolute must have, a good probiotic supplement, and they're hard to...
0:17:47.7 BF: It's hard to know what a good probiotics supplement is because everybody's microbiome's a little bit different. So you have to experiment with probiotics brands, formulations, time... The time that you take or how many... The dose that you take, you gotta kind of experiment with that. And then, also using fermented foods can help too, like, things like sauerkraut and kimchi, that can help with the natural microbiome inside the body.
0:18:11.1 MS: Outside of taking a probiotic, let's say, you do have this like fungal imbalance for lack of a better example, outside of taking the probiotic. What else can you do to find that balance?
0:18:24.4 BF: Stop eating sugar. You know I was... I meant to say this earlier, sugar... Bacteria loves sugar, they ferment, they use sugar to ferment, and by the way, quick digression here, a cancer cell, is a cell that's acting like a bacteria. It's fermenting. It's not... It's lost the ability to utilize oxygen for energy and now it's fermenting. And so that's... This is what makes a cancer cell. It's a fermenting type of cell. So the best thing you can do, if you wanna deal with these kinds of overgrowth and imbalance issues, is stop eating the sugar. And that means any kind of refined carbohydrate. Sugar feed bacteria and the major reason, why we have these kinds of bacterial and fungal growth and fungus also, Candida also at least eats sugar, is because of our incredibly out of balance or out of proportion, sugar caloric intake. We eat way more calories and sugar than we should as a proportion of our total calories. So just like sugar in the form of fiber, is important for feeding bacteria in a good way. It also feeds bacteria in a bad way. In fact, there's a condition called SIBO. I dunno if you've ever heard this?
0:19:31.9 MS: I have. Yeah.
0:19:32.6 BF: Yeah. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which as anybody who has SIBO will tell you when they eat... When people eat raisins or they eat figs or they eat dates or they eat real dried fruits or even any kind of fruit, really... Or something called FODMAPs, if you heard of FODMAPs?
0:19:46.9 MS: I have. Yeah.
0:19:47.7 BF: Yeah. FODMAPs is a acronym that stands for a bunch of different types of sugars, fructose, oligo, di, mono, polyols. That's... These are all forms of sugar. When you eat FODMAPs, you're feeding the bad bacteria. When you eat dried fruits, you're feeding the bad bacteria. So just like bacteria... Sugar feeds bacteria in a good way, if you do it right with fiber, these complex sugars, if you do it in a wrong way, with simple sugars, you can end up with bacterial overgrowth or also fungal overgrowth, for that matter.
0:20:17.9 MS: And SIBO's really hard to get rid of too, isn't it?
0:20:20.2 BF: Really hard to get rid of because the intestine is a home of bacteria. So it's hard to really control that, the best way to get rid of SIBO, if you're dealing with SIBO, it's really... It's a horrible thing, is number one, probiotics, because the good bacteria can fight the bad bacteria and then to go as low sugar as you possibly can, low FODMAPs too. And it's interesting because a lot of foods, that are good foods, are high FODMAP foods. So people think, Oh, well, I'm just eating avocados. And I'm just eating asparagus. You know, I'm just eating veggies and I'm eating all organic, but they don't realize that those foods are FODMAPs foods and they can wreak havoc on the small intestine and that's where SIBO comes from.
0:20:56.2 MS: That wraps our show today. And as always, if you're not an ASCP member, join today at ascpskincare.com/join, if you liked this episode, subscribe today, so you never miss it. Details from what we discussed today, will be in our show notes. If you just can't get enough of Ben Fuchs, The Rogue Pharmacist, you can listen to his syndicated radio program at brightsideben.com. Thanks everyone. And have a great day.Page Break