There are more than one trillion bacteria living, crawling, snacking, and metabolising in and on our skin. Before you glance down at your body in disgust, hear me out.
These essential microorganisms exist for very important reasons. They can fight infections, thwart environmental damage, boost immunity, regulate pH levels, and keep our skin plump and dewy. You read that right. Welcome to the wonderful world of your microbiome.
What our microbiome does for our skin
Our microbiome is a natural collection of microorganisms that live symbiotically with our bodies. In fact, the human body is home to various microbiomes: the gut microbiome, the oral microbiome, and for the ladies out there, the vaginal microbiome. Not only is it an essential part of the body’s immune system, but it’s also responsible for the functioning of the skin barrier.
A thriving microbiome is known to prevent a whole host of skin issues, such as eczema, rosacea, acne, and even premature ageing, so the greater the variety of bacterial species we have on our skin, the healthier our skin barrier will be. In short, our microbiome is the single most important element of skin health.
This is why we’ve seen an uptick in probiotic skincare launches in recent months. However, more brands have been creating prebiotic skincare formulas. Before I introduce you to a unique prebiotic range, let’s get to know probiotics and prebiotics a little better.
The difference between probiotics and prebiotics
Although they sound similar, probiotics and prebiotics are two vastly different things with specific functions. Probiotics are living microorganisms that are found both naturally in your body and in food and supplements. When consumed or applied on the skin, they can ease chronic skin conditions and strengthen your skin’s protective barrier.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, aren’t actually alive. They are non-digestible ingredients that help balance the good and bad bacteria on your skin. These compounds feed existing microorganisms, helping them thrive, so their role is to positively change or preserve the healthy microbiome found on the skin when eaten or applied.
This is why local intimate care brand TWO L(I)PS has created a prebiotic skincare range to support your body’s microbiome as well as your vulva’s (the external part of your female genitalia).
The TWO L(I)PS prebiotic range
After years of acquaintance, you probably know that your vulva is a sensitive little lady. A tiny bit of imbalance can irritate her, which is why TWO L(I)PS’ formulas sit between the pH levels of four to six – the optimal levels for the skin on our face, body, and vulva. Made with a proprietary prebiotic complex, the formulas feed your microbiome the essential “food” it needs to help good bacteria flourish.
Inulin reduces the growth of harmful bacteria in favour of friendly microorganisms, while alpha-glucan oligosaccharide stimulates, maintains, and supports your microbial skin flora, feeding only beneficial strains on your skin. Finally, saccharide isomerate – an all natural, plant-derived moisturiser – binds to your skin to provide lasting moisture for up to 72 hours.
The range consists of five essential products, starting with a cleanser and finishing off with sunscreen. These products are formulated without sulphates and parabens, and they’re dermatologically and gynaecologically tested too. As someone with sensitive skin, I decided to put the entire lineup to the test. Here’s what I thought about each product from TWO L(I)PS’ prebiotic range:
RINSE Gentle Prebiotic Cleanser (S$55, 200ml)
With a pH value of 4.15, the RINSE Gentle Prebiotic Cleanser has a gel-like texture that produces a gentle lather. When I used it as a facial cleanser, body wash, and feminine wash for the first time, I noticed that it didn’t leave my skin feeling squeaky clean – a sign that my skin was crying for help. Instead, I felt soft and smooth all over sans moisturiser.
The lactic acid in the cleanser gently sloughed off dead skin cells while saccharide isomerate left my skin feeling hydrated even after I rinsed it off. My skin and nose are both pretty sensitive to fragrances, but the frankincense oil in the formula gave my cleansing experience a spa-like upgrade without irritating my skin.
As someone who uses fragrance- and essential oil-free products in rotation, this mild cleanser from TWO L(I)PS was a lovely treat.
SCRUBBS Konjac Jelly Scrub (S$70, 200ml)
I followed up with the SCRUBBS Konjac Jelly Scrub, which contains biodegradable konjac jelly beads and finely ground olive stone powder. These skin and earth-friendly exfoliators effectively remove dirt and grime. Just like the cleanser, the scrub bears the same frankincense fragrance and gently exfoliated my skin without stripping it of any essential moisture.
I was told that it’s safe to use the scrub daily, but for all my fellow members in the sensitive skin club, I’d recommend using it once or twice a week first to see how well your skin tolerates it. If you’re someone who goes for bikini or Brazilian waxes, or if you shave your intimate area regularly, you can use the scrub two or three times per week on your vulva. This will help remove dead skin cells and prevent ingrown hairs.
JUICE Prebiotic Body Balm (S$80, 200ml)
Now, we’ve come to my favourite product in the range. Made with sugarcane-derived squalane, trehalose, and shea butter, the JUICE Prebiotic Body Balm is a body moisturiser that bears a light frankincense fragrance. Out of the tube, it seemed like a heavy cream, but once I spread it on my skin, it became an airy body balm that moisturised and conditioned my skin.
Using this after the cleanser and scrub made for the perfect bodycare routine – my arms and legs felt soft, smooth, and hydrated after slathering the body balm all over. It absorbed into my skin pretty quickly too, so I didn’t have to wait a century to put my undergarments and clothes on.
Here’s a trick for your hair too. Before I headed out the door one morning, I grabbed the bottle of body balm and smoothed a pea-sized amount on my pixie cut in a pinch. It instantly tamed pesky flyaways and gave my hair a semi-matte finish, which I loved.
SLEEPOVER Repairing Overnight Mask (S$100, 50ml)
A no-rinse, unscented sleeping mask, the SLEEPOVER Repairing Overnight Mask contains olive leaf extract to repair and restore tired skin, which sounds perfect for busy bees and overworked folks. When I used this for the first time, I applied it all over my face and neck as well as my vulva. The lightweight mask settled on my skin fast without feeling greasy.
If you’re using this on your vulva, half a pump works just fine. A little goes a long way for smoother, plumper skin the next day. To simplify my routine, I also tried using this both day and night as a moisturiser. Since it has a light texture, it worked just as effectively as a moisturiser.
SCREEN Pore-refining Sunscreen (S$70, 50ml)
Finally, we have the SCREEN Pore-refining Sunscreen – an essential step in every morning routine. Fusing the hydrating benefits of a moisturiser with sun protection, this sunscreen applies like a gel-cream moisturiser. Niacinamide in the formula refines the look of large pores and feeds the skin with antioxidants, while sodium hyaluronate draws moisture close to the skin to keep it hydrated all day.
After applying this on my face, neck, chest and ears (yup, your ears need sun protection too!), my skin looked much glowier and healthier. If you’re wondering when you’re meant to use this on your vulva, you can actually apply a good amount around your bikini area during the day. This is especially beneficial for those who lead more active lifestyles and often head in the sun for outdoor sports.
The TWO L(I)PS prebiotic range is available now on its website and at all Strip outlets.