Mention probiotics to the average Singaporean, and there’s a high chance they’ll bring up Yakult, yoghurt, or kimchi. Everyone knows probiotics equate to good bacteria, and that they help your gut, but there’s little mass knowledge in Asia about just how beneficial probiotics can be to your overall health. It even maintains a direct connection with beauty and skincare.
Of course, the regional market isn’t entirely estranged from the idea of fermented ingredients in skincare, as well as its benefits. We have the East Asians to thank for that. When it comes to eating for good gut health to attain better skin, the awareness dips. This dearth is something homegrown brand We Are Cultured exists to fill.
Founded by Sheryl Tan, We Are Cultured is a brand that wants to help you lead a microbiome-friendly lifestyle. It doesn’t have an extensive range of products, but the brand has a loyal following in countries like Australia, and Los Angeles, where the probiotics bandwagon is much stronger.
When Tan was struggling through seven years of chronic pain due to an auto-immune disorder, she realised just how important having good gut health was when it came to mitigating a lot of her symptoms.
“For about three to four years, I was misdiagnosed. Each day, I’d be on seven to 21 pills. I did all kinds of tests, but nothing was conclusive. The doctors didn’t even really know what was wrong with me. They even put me on anti-depressants and such. There was real pain, and I could feel it. Some nights, I’d wake up and my nails would’ve punctured my palm from clenching so hard. Being in pain became my default state,” she shared.
Going through the ordeal led her down a path of self-discovery, where she began learning more about probiotics. From there, We Are Cultured was established. What began as a label that sold kombucha and water kefir then expanded into a one-of-a-kind beauty brand that aims to help consumers look beautiful from the inside out. We Are Cultured’s two main product ranges with probiotics are Magic Dust teas, and the Solar Mist cleaning sprays. The former contains one of the only FDA-approved single-strains of bacteria, and is backed by over 20 years of research and peer reviews. The latter is a leap in probiotics technology, featuring over 50,000 strains of bacteria to sanitise your body, home, and even your private areas.
If the idea of beneficial bacteria still has you confused, we spoke to Tan to find out all there is to know about We Are Cultured.
Probiotics used to be all about Yakult and yoghurt to me, but it’s grown to become such a dynamic topic. I learned about replenishing good bacteria to the gut after a severe bout of food poisoning in Shanghai, and went on to taking kombucha, as well as water kefir. After doing more research, I realised that our microbiome was far more complex than what I knew. It was a universe by itself. I also learned a lot from the probiotics movement in Los Angeles and Australia. Before that, my best source of reference to anything health-related was Dr. Oz.
There are definite skincare benefits to this. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It functions as a barrier to everything. In fact, your skin sustains the largest impact depending on what is happening internally, or externally. Whatever is wrong on the inside shows on the outside. Probiotics improve your gut health, and this in turn gives you better skin. Also, 70 to 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, which allows probiotics to benefit your overall health as well.
A lot of people have microbiomes that aren’t at their optimum because of all the processed foods we eat. There’s a lot of clog. If you can imagine, when you take probiotics, it’s like having a bad party, and there’s an influx of really cool guys. There’s just a clash on both sides, and there’s a lot more action. The good party arrives, then there’s a bit of a kaboom, which leads you to the toilet. But not in a bad way. Whatever you take in affects your gut, and in turn, has an impact on your skin. With better gut health after taking our teas, you get better skin health too.
It’s something like that scene in Life of Pi, where the actor is rowing out to sea with the tiger on his boat. At night, there are things that start glowing in the sea. That’s actually photosynthetic bacteria. They feed off light, hence the solar-powered aspect. Bacteria needs food, and most bacteria eats sugars, but that’s finite. With infinite light, the bacteria in the Solar Mist lasts forever. It’s also intelligent because you have more than 50,000 strains of bacteria adapting itself to sanitise and balance the environment it is in. There are no two surfaces where the Solar Mist works the same.
I’m not sure if you heard of this term called candida, but it’s a yeast in your body. There’s a huge number of studies being done now that says candida is one of the main things in your body that you have to pay attention to, especially for women. If you have a problem down there, you have a problem everywhere, but no one talks about it. When you have more yeast in your body, your bacteria count drops. That’s how it works. When your candida levels go crazy, something like the Solar Mist is there to balance it and maintain hygiene.
It’s not a direct connection. Silk is the only textile protein that’s compatible with skin proteins. It’s also the only fabric in the world that’s anti-microbial and anti-bacterial. Sleeping in cotton sheets picks up the bacteria from your skin or your hair and transfers it. If someone has oily or unwashed hair, that goes on your cotton, and the bacteria multiplies. It then gets on your face. You ought to wash your pillowcases every week. Once you sleep on silk, you can’t go back. Your skin begins to feel different too.
We’re launching something called Beauty Nuts next. They’re basically pili nuts, harvested and handmade by women under the poverty line. Pili nuts are known for their beta-carotene levels, which they contain many times more than olive oil. It’s a stress-combating food. We mix in a strain of probiotics, the same one that goes into Magic Dust. Our first product is going to be called A Better Cure For PMS. We all crave chocolate when we are PMS-ing, so the nuts are coated with cacao powder, which is good for you in many other ways. It has a bit of coconut sugar. We wanted to create something that women could turn to for satisfaction aside from a Snickers bar.