Skip to content

Skin Actives Kefir bioferment for your hair! And, what’s a prebiotic?

Actually, kefir bioferment for your scalp, not just your hair. It will improve scalp and hair and work as a pre-biotic, modifying, for the better, the complex scalp microbiota (when it goes wrong, think dandruff).

The scalp makes the hair, a “finished product” protein, not live cells. We can help maintain the health of the scalp, so that our hair looks better and feels better. Still, the kefir bioferment has a nice conditioning effect on the hair, which will feel softer and more manageable.

Bioferments by Skin Actives

We use the name “bioferment,” an INCI name. INCI refers to “International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients.” By law, we must use the names in the INCI list in our labels and ingredient lists.

The approach is to treat botanical substrates with microorganisms and/or purified enzymes to increase the yield of the desired chemicals without decreasing the concentration of other components that may also be useful to the skin.  The selection of botanical starting material and microorganisms and enzymes is done using detailed information about the biochemistry of the substrate and the metabolism of the agents used to process the botanical starting material.

After fermentation, enzymatic treatment, or a combination of both, the process is terminated in a manner that preserves the integrity of the beneficial chemicals while decreasing microorganism counts to the lowest possible levels and always below the microbiological counts allowed by regulation.

We don’t use any plant material or microorganisms with the potential to leave nocive chemicals in the final product.

We add preservatives according to the requirements of the materials employed.

We may also add other chemicals, like astaxanthin or algal polysaccharides that complement the starting ferment because of their antioxidant activity or other skin benefits.

Although we suggested the name “Kefir sea kelp bioferment”, the INCI committee decided on a much longer name Lactobacillus/Lactococcus/Leuconostoc/Saccharomyces Laminaria Digitata Ferment Filtrate. 

Probiotics are mixes of bacteria that you take orally in order to modify the bacterial composition of your gut. This is done usually after taking antibiotics, used to combat respiratory or other infections. Oral antibiotics may decimate gut bacterial flora and lead to intestinal problems.

Skin bacteria

It used to be that we only discussed skin bacteria when speaking about infections, and how to kill the recently renamed acne bacterium, Cutibacterium acnes (a.k.a. Propionibacterium acnes). But now, you can see bacteria and the “microbiome” everywhere in magazines that advertise skincare products.

We do have bacteria living on our skin and sometimes they are disrupted. However, we are not allowed to “play” with skin bacteria by applying bacteria topically as we do orally.

Why the difference? Our digestive system is better prepared to contend with bacteria, the high acidity in our stomach will kill most bacteria. Conversely, our skin and eyes don’t have that kind of defense (although there are several immune actors in the skin). Government regulations (the FDA, Food and Drug Administration) do not allow skincare companies to add bacteria to our skin. In fact, there are stringent regulations that prevent the selling of products that exceed low limits of bacterial (and mold) content. These regulations originate in the “good ol’ times” when contaminated products caused eye infections and blindness.  I don’t like those good ol’ times.

Our skin does a good job of keeping “bad” bacteria away, we can’t guarantee that the product inside that pretty flask is free of bad bacteria unless it is actually free of bacteria as proven by testing. The quality control technician applies some product to a standard plaque containing media suitable for bacteria or mold and waits to see whether something grows after a few days at a certain temperature. More than a few plaques and the product is thrown away, as it should be.

We can’t use probiotics on our skin but there are better ways

We can’t do topical probiotics, but we can do topical prebiotics.

What is a prebiotic? They are chemicals or mixes of chemicals that suppress the growth or activity of “bad” bacteria or fungi and induce the growth or activity of beneficial organisms.

When you eat prebiotics like natural food fibers you can alter organisms’ composition in the gut microbiome.

How fermentation can help

It isn’t simply that bacteria “fight” each other directly for supremacy. They do it using chemicals: they make substances that can discourage the growth of other species. This means that you don’t need actual bacteria to discourage, say, acne bacteria from growing on your skin. What you need is the medium (or chemicals) produced by the “good” bacteria. This is the principle behind the use of ferments in skincare.

For our skin, what would be the equivalent of eating lots of fiber? Succinic acid is a chemical that has potent anti-S. aureus and anti-C. acnes activity. You can grow Staphylococcus epidermidis strains in a medium containing carbohydrates to produce succinic acid. This fact is relevant to acne treatment because, in theory, we could improve skin health and control acne by using prebiotics like succinic acid and glycerol that will discourage C. acnes from spreading.

Fermentation: the illusion of perfect extraction vs. the reality of bioferment skincare industry

Our main prebiotic ingredient is “sea kelp bioferment”; this is the INCI name, a more suitable name would be kelp Lactobacillus ferment. The sea kelp bioferment we use as a base for many of our products starts with the sea kelp. This plant material is rich in biochemical components that are already beneficial to our skin. But then we cultivate yogurt bacteria in this broth. What do we gain with this extra step? The microorganisms will make their valuable biochemicals and enrich the mix with prebiotics that will benefit the skin in other ways. They supply more vitamins and building blocks that our skin will use to make its proteins (collagen, elastin, and more), polysaccharides, and DNA. We are already experimenting with using a kefir mix to provide a different prebiotic base serum.

The INCI names

The INCI name for our sea kelp bioferment is Seakelp (Lactobacillus/Kelp Ferment Filtrate) Bioferment.  Simple enough. Lactobacillus here is a mix of Lactobacillus bacteria that may includes L. bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and others.

Although we suggested the name “Kefir sea kelp bioferment”, the INCI committee decided on a much longer name Lactobacillus/Lactococcus/Leuconostoc/Saccharomyces Laminaria Digitata Ferment Filtrate. 

What to expect?

The ingredient: Kefir/kelp bioferment by Skin Actives

Starting material: Sea kelp (Laminaria digitata)

Microorganisms: a mix of Kefir bacteria and yeasts

The process of fermentation is terminated by filtration, which eliminates any residual bacteria or yeast. Compatible preservatives are added at the end to preserve the chemical composition of the filtrate. We may add other chemicals depending on the bacteria we wish to discourage or the growth conditions of the bacteria we wish to encourage. 

The benefits

The aim of skincare should be to keep a healthy microbiome, not “overcleaning” to kill every single bacterium. A widespread modern affliction, sensitive skin, is usually caused by overcleaning, which removes the epidermis’ external layers that make up the skin barrier, plus the bacteria living in it.

Skin Actives bioferments aim to protect good bacteria and keep the skin barrier intact and functional, displaying the natural defenses the skin has. For more information, please see the following posts:



DISCLAIMER: These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.