The probiotic beverage is trendy, sure, but it turns out kombucha is also a bit of a wunderkind when applied to your skin.

By Rachel Jacoby Zoldan
September 04, 2019
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I'm a big fan of wellness trends. Adaptogens? I have tons of 'em in jars, sachets, and tinctures. Hangover patches? I've been talking about them for the better part of a year now. And kombucha, well, I've been drinking the probiotic-heavy beverage for a while in the ever hope of improving my health.

The fermented tea is rich with probiotics, and research has found consuming probiotics can help alleviate digestive issues including diarrhea, IBD, and IBS.

But it turns out kombucha isn't just good for your gut: Recently, there's been a spike in kombucha-laden skin-care products. Similar to how probiotics improve gut health, they can also improve skin health by balancing out the more harmful bacteria and restoring barrier function, explains Shasa Hu, M.D., a dermatologist and co-founder of BIA Life. "Multiple studies support the benefits of probiotics in inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and acne," Dr. Hu says. (Related: 5 Amazing Health Benefits of Probiotics)

Specifically, some early lab research suggests that probiotics, when applied topically, can help regulate the skin's microbiome, which could help the skin appear more moisturized, says Hadley King, M.D., a dermatologist based in New York City.

"Theoretically, topical probiotics will help strengthen the skin's natural ability to defend itself by forming a type of protective shield on the skin's surface, which in turn makes the skin more resistant to damage from environmental stressors, helps maintain moisture, and even helps fight off UV damage," Dr. King says.

And kombucha's got more than probiotics to feed your face. "Kombucha also has vitamins B1, B6, B12, and vitamin C," says Hu. "Vitamins B and C are vital antioxidants that support cellular function and oxidative damage repair, helping to maintain skin elasticity and barrier function." (Related: Here's Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin C Skin Care)

Of course, you shouldn't apply kombucha in its drinkable form directly to your face. "In its regular form, kombucha is a weak acid—its pH around 3—so this may be irritating to the skin if it is not diluted," says Dr. King, who notes that skin maintains its barrier best at a pH of around 5.5. (Related: 4 Sneaky Things Throwing Your Skin Off Balance)

Instead, reach for products specifically formulated for the skin but made with the fermented tea. For example, Glow Recipe sister brand Sweet Chef just launched its Ginger Kombucha + Vitamin D Chill Mist (Buy It, $17, target.com). According to GR co-founder and co-CEO Christine Chang, the face mist is "a great way to both refresh skin and fortify the skin barrier throughout the day."

At night, try Youth to the People Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner (Buy It, $38, sephora.com). Here, two chemical exfoliants—lactic acid and glycolic acid—work to refine pore size and texture while the kombucha helps to maintain the skin's otherwise delicate barrier. Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Antioxidant Essence (Buy It, $68, sephora.com) also provides a protective layer of vitamins morning or night.

And if nothing else, keep drinking your favorite kombucha blend.

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