The more time I spend in the beauty industry, the more I believe that clear, good skin is more of an art than a science. Sure, it's science-based, but there's an endless list of the things that are bad (sun, dairy, gluten, oils) and only a few things that are good (vitamin D; dairy, unless you are French; gluten, unless you are French; oils, if you know how to use them). But the list is far from definitive, because everyone's skin is a special, delicate snowflake.
The latest to join the is-it-bad-or-is-it-good debate are probiotics. On Reddit skin-care message boards, the benefits and detriments of probiotics are hot topics, with some claiming that they are an acne miracle cure and others blaming them for cystic acne. The Cut's senior editor Isabel Wilkinson added them to her diet at the suggestion of her dermatologist and saw a noticeable difference in clarity and tone. To understand some of the science behind them, I called Dr. Frank Lipman, Gwyneth Paltrow's holistic doctor, who told me that probiotics can benefit skin by hosting "friendly" bacteria. Unlike a reality-show contestant, these bacteria are here to make friends. Read on to learn about whether probiotics are right for you and about the importance of a "diverse" gut flora (which has no relation to botany).