The cosmetics giant has been investigating the role of probiotic supplements in skincare for seven years and the upcoming release will be the second product offering of this type. Although research is ongoing preliminary results investigating the effect of various probiotics on sensitive and reactive skin (skin with marked sensitivity to physical or chemical stimuli) look positive, project director Audrey Gueniche told CosmeticsDesign. In recent decades the number of people suffering from reactive and sensitive skin has considerably increased in industrialised countries, and the idea of using of oral supplements to alleviate symptoms is becoming particularly popular, she said. Daily probiotics for reactive skin The company investigated the effect of a mixed preparation of Lactobacillus paracaseï CNCM I-2116 and Bifidobacterium lactis CNCM I-3446 in human volunteers with reactive skin. Sixty female volunteers ingested daily either 1010 CFU (colony forming units) of each probiotic strain or a placebo. After eight weeks of treatment the team found a significant reduction in skin sensitivity (as measured by a stinging test). A further trial investigating the effects of Lactobacillus paracaseï NCC2461 alone and in conjunction with Bifidobacterium longum similarly found a positive effect on skin sensitivity and reconstruction of skin barrier function, although skin dryness was not improved, according to the company. The results led the company to conclude that the probiotic L. paracaseï NCC2461 alone or in combination, administered by the oral route, has a beneficial effect on reactive skin. Immune mediators strengthen barrier function Research into the potential benefits probiotics may hold for skin health was prompted by noted similarities between the gut epithelium and the skin barrier, according to project director Audrey Gueniche. In addition, Gueniche noted research from Finnish scientists that illustrated the beneficial effects of probiotics for those suffering from atopic diseases. Although the exact mechanism behind the benefits remains unknown Gueniche believes the presence of probiotics in the gut causes the intestinal epithelial cells to release various immune mediators which may then affect the skin. The product will be distributed along with the rest of the Innéov range through pharmacies in France and the rest of the world before the end of 2009, although an exact launch date has not been set.