How Poor Gut Health Ages Your Skin 

by JJ Virgin on May 14, 2024

The secret to clear, youthful skin? Keep up with your skincare routine, but also mind your gut. There is an important connection between the state of your digestive system and your skin’s appearance.  

Your gut houses trillions of microorganisms forming a complex ecosystem called the microbiome, crucial for digestion, immunity, and overall health. 

A balanced microbiome and healthy gut lining are key for clear skin.1 An imbalance in gut flora or a compromised gut lining can lead to skin issues such as acne, premature aging, irritation, and other concerns.2 

Taking care of your gut can slow down aging signs and promote vibrant, healthy skin. 

The Gut-Skin Axis 

Your gut communicates with your skin and other organs, influencing your overall health.3 

The balance of microorganisms in your gut and a healthy gut lining are crucial for your skin’s health and aging process. Imbalances in your gut’s microbial community, called dysbiosis, can disrupt this harmony and cause numerous health issues, including skin aging.4 

Two main factors for accelerated skin aging are chronic inflammation and oxidative stress from damaging free radicals: 

  • Chronic inflammation increases the production of enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. It also weakens your skin’s protective barrier, making it sensitive to environmental damage like UV radiation and pollution.5 
  • Free radicals can directly damage collagen fibers, the structural protein that gives skin elasticity and firmness, leading to wrinkles and sagging. Oxidative stress also damages elastin, increases inflammation, damages your cells’ DNA, and leads to premature aging of skin cells.6 

Both issues can start from problems in your gut and lead to visible aging signs like wrinkles, loss of firmness, and dull complexion.7 Maintaining a balanced gut microbiome is a foundational step in combating skin aging.  

5 Ways Your Gut Influences Your Skin Health 

1. Immune Health and Inflammation 

About 70-80% of your immune system lives in your gut.8 This close relationship between your gut and immune system affects your skin’s health and appearance. 

An imbalance in your gut microbiome, with harmful bacteria taking over the beneficial ones, can throw off your immune system, lead to a weakened defense against illnesses, or cause your immune system to overreact. A faulty immune response can lead to various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, or psoriasis.9 

Having a healthy gut helps control inflammation in the body. Although inflammation is a normal part of the immune system’s response, it can harm your skin if it lasts too long or your gut isn’t working correctly. Problems in the gut can lead to skin issues like redness, swelling, and irritation, making you uncomfortable and possibly starting or worsening skin problems.10  

2. Nutrient Digestion and Absorption  

The good bacteria in your gut help break down food and absorb nutrients, which keeps your skin healthy and glowing. Nutrients, including vitamin C and antioxidants, protect your skin by fighting harmful free radicals.11 

Your gut must effectively absorb these nutrients to reach and benefit your skin. Interestingly, certain gut bacteria produce antioxidants themselves, providing an additional line of defense against these harmful molecules.12 

However, your gut can’t absorb nutrients properly if it isn’t functioning well. This can weaken your skin’s ability to heal itself from everyday damage.13 If your gut is unhealthy, it might also affect how much collagen your body makes. Collagen keeps your skin firm and resilient. Without adequate production, you might start to see wrinkles and sagging skin.14 

When your gut doesn’t absorb nutrients properly, your skin’s defense against pollution and UV rays weakens as well, making it more likely to get damaged and age faster.15 This weaker skin barrier can cause more sensitivity, dryness, and a reduced capacity to heal itself, speeding up the development of fine lines and wrinkles.  

3. Microbiome Health 

Your gut isn’t the only place with a community of tiny life forms. Your skin has a microbiome, too, and it is made up of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms just like your gut. While the gut and skin microbiomes are separate, they’re connected through the immune system. Both play crucial roles in immune function and overall health, and your skin’s microbiome functions similarly, helping fight off harmful pathogens, controlling inflammation, and keeping skin healthy and resilient.16  

A well-balanced skin microbiome is the foundation of clear skin. An imbalanced gut is more likely to lead to infections and inflammation, which can worsen skin problems like acne, eczema, or psoriasis.17 An unhealthy gut can also weaken your skin’s protective barrier, making it easier for pollutants and damage to affect your skin.18 

4. Hormonal Balance 

Hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol are made and managed within your gut.19 When the balance of good bacteria in your gut is off, it can cause hormonal imbalance, which might manifest as problems with your skin. For example, too much testosterone can make your skin oily and cause acne. Imbalances in estrogen and progesterone can make your skin dry and lose elasticity.20, 21 

The gut microbiome also manages your body’s stress response. Ideally, your body’s stress hormone levels should decrease as the day goes on. However, chronically high cortisol can make it hard for your skin to keep moisture, leading to dry and irritated skin. It can also make your skin oilier, which might cause acne, eczema, or psoriasis to worsen.22 

5. Toxic Buildup 

When your gut barrier is weak, it allows things that should stay in your digestive system—like toxins, undigested food, and harmful bacteria—to get into your bloodstream.23 This condition is called leaky gut and can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress, which harm skin cells and accelerate aging.24 

The buildup of toxins from a weakened gut barrier doesn’t only cause inflammation and stress to your skin; it can also mess with the balance of hormones and nutrients that your skin needs to stay healthy.25 These toxins can disrupt how your body makes and manages collagen, leading to sagging and more noticeable wrinkles.26 

When there are too many toxins because of a weakened gut barrier, your body’s detox systems can get overwhelmed, creating a cycle where toxins keep accumulating. Your skin then tries to help by eliminating the toxins through your pores. This might show up as acne, eczema outbreaks, or dull skin.27 

A Different Kind of Detox for Comprehensive Gut and Skin Support 

Too many toxins can harm your gut health, affecting your skin’s appearance and texture. 

A well-designed detoxification plan can improve your microbiome, leading to clearer, more radiant skin by alleviating the toxic load that compromises the delicate ecosystem within your gut. I designed the 10-Day Protein-Powered Detox Program to support detoxification with a unique focus on providing optimal protein levels—an often overlooked aspect of typical detox plans.  

By supplying essential amino acids that your skin depends on, this program equips your body with the necessary nutrients to effectively detoxify, rebalance hormonal levels, and maintain gut health, all while creating the foundation for beautiful skin.  

This comprehensive program includes everything you need to reduce your toxic burden and cultivate vibrant health, including access to a private, supportive Facebook group.* 

Learn more about the 10-Day Protein-Powered Detox Program here


  1. Verywell Health: A Healthy Gut Might Be the Secret to Glowing Skin 
  1. De Pessemier B, Grine L, Debaere M, Maes A, Paetzold B, Callewaert C. Gut-Skin Axis: Current Knowledge of the Interrelationship between Microbial Dysbiosis and Skin Conditions. Microorganisms. 2021 Feb 11;9(2):353. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9020353. PMID: 33670115; PMCID: PMC7916842. 
  1. Mahmud MR, Akter S, Tamanna SK, Mazumder L, Esti IZ, Banerjee S, Akter S, Hasan MR, Acharjee M, Hossain MS, Pirttilä AM. Impact of gut microbiome on skin health: gut-skin axis observed through the lenses of therapeutics and skin diseases. Gut Microbes. 2022 Jan-Dec;14(1):2096995. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2022.2096995. PMID: 35866234; PMCID: PMC9311318. 
  1. De Pessemier B, Grine L, Debaere M, Maes A, Paetzold B, Callewaert C. Gut-Skin Axis: Current Knowledge of the Interrelationship between Microbial Dysbiosis and Skin Conditions. Microorganisms. 2021 Feb 11;9(2):353. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9020353. PMID: 33670115; PMCID: PMC7916842. 
  1. Pająk J, Nowicka D, Szepietowski JC. Inflammaging and Immunosenescence as Part of Skin Aging-A Narrative Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Apr 24;24(9):7784. doi: 10.3390/ijms24097784. PMID: 37175491; PMCID: PMC10178737. 
  1. Silva SAME, Michniak-Kohn B, Leonardi GR. An overview about oxidation in clinical practice of skin aging. An Bras Dermatol. 2017 May-Jun;92(3):367-374. doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20175481. PMID: 29186250; PMCID: PMC5514578. 
  1. Papaccio F, D Arino A, Caputo S, Bellei B. Focus on the Contribution of Oxidative Stress in Skin Aging. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022 Jun 6;11(6):1121. doi: 10.3390/antiox11061121. PMID: 35740018; PMCID: PMC9220264. 
  1. Wiertsema SP, van Bergenhenegouwen J, Garssen J, Knippels LMJ. The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 9;13(3):886. doi: 10.3390/nu13030886. PMID: 33803407; PMCID: PMC8001875.  
  1. Lee SY, Lee E, Park YM, Hong SJ. Microbiome in the Gut-Skin Axis in Atopic Dermatitis. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2018 Jul;10(4):354-362. doi: 10.4168/aair.2018.10.4.354. PMID: 29949831; PMCID: PMC6021588. 
  1. Al Bander Z, Nitert MD, Mousa A, Naderpoor N. The Gut Microbiota and Inflammation: An Overview. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 19;17(20):7618. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17207618. PMID: 33086688; PMCID: PMC7589951. 
  1. Harvard Health: Understanding antioxidants 
  1. Uchiyama J, Akiyama M, Hase K, Kumagai Y, Kim YG. Gut microbiota reinforce host antioxidant capacity via the generation of reactive sulfur species. Cell Rep. 2022 Mar 8;38(10):110479. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.110479. PMID: 35263581. 
  1. Mahmud MR, Akter S, Tamanna SK, Mazumder L, Esti IZ, Banerjee S, Akter S, Hasan MR, Acharjee M, Hossain MS, Pirttilä AM. Impact of gut microbiome on skin health: gut-skin axis observed through the lenses of therapeutics and skin diseases. Gut Microbes. 2022 Jan-Dec;14(1):2096995. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2022.2096995. PMID: 35866234; PMCID: PMC9311318. 
  1. Campos LD, Santos Junior VA, Pimentel JD, Carregã GLF, Cazarin CBB. Collagen supplementation in skin and orthopedic diseases: A review of the literature. Heliyon. 2023 Mar 28;9(4):e14961. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e14961. PMID: 37064452; PMCID: PMC10102402. 
  1. Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1;4(3):298-307. doi: 10.4161/derm.22876. PMID: 23467449; PMCID: PMC3583891. 
  1. Skowron K, Bauza-Kaszewska J, Kraszewska Z, Wiktorczyk-Kapischke N, Grudlewska-Buda K, Kwiecińska-Piróg J, Wałecka-Zacharska E, Radtke L, Gospodarek-Komkowska E. Human Skin Microbiome: Impact of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors on Skin Microbiota. Microorganisms. 2021 Mar 5;9(3):543. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9030543. PMID: 33808031; PMCID: PMC7998121. 
  1. Celoria V, Rosset F, Pala V, Dapavo P, Ribero S, Quaglino P, Mastorino L. The Skin Microbiome and Its Role in Psoriasis: A Review. Psoriasis (Auckl). 2023 Oct 26;13:71-78. doi: 10.2147/PTT.S328439. PMID: 37908308; PMCID: PMC10614657. 
  1. Lee HJ, Kim M. Skin Barrier Function and the Microbiome. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Oct 28;23(21):13071. doi: 10.3390/ijms232113071. PMID: 36361857; PMCID: PMC9654002. 
  1. Hussain T, Murtaza G, Kalhoro DH, Kalhoro MS, Metwally E, Chughtai MI, Mazhar MU, Khan SA. Relationship between gut microbiota and host-metabolism: Emphasis on hormones related to reproductive function. Anim Nutr. 2021 Mar;7(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.aninu.2020.11.005. Epub 2021 Jan 4. PMID: 33997325; PMCID: PMC8110851. 
  1. Healthline: Does Testosterone Cause Acne? 
  1. Ro: Which Hormones Impact Your Skin Health? And How? 
  1. Chen Y, Lyga J. Brain-skin connection: stress, inflammation and skin aging. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2014;13(3):177-90. doi: 10.2174/1871528113666140522104422. PMID: 24853682; PMCID: PMC4082169. 
  1. Medical News Today: Leaky gut syndrome: What it is, symptoms, and treatments 
  1. Ni Q, Zhang P, Li Q, Han Z. Oxidative Stress and Gut Microbiome in Inflammatory Skin Diseases. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Mar 7;10:849985. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2022.849985. PMID: 35321240; PMCID: PMC8937033. 
  1. Aleman RS, Moncada M, Aryana KJ. Leaky Gut and the Ingredients That Help Treat It: A Review. Molecules. 2023 Jan 7;28(2):619. doi: 10.3390/molecules28020619. PMID: 36677677; PMCID: PMC9862683. 
  1. Ganceviciene R, Liakou AI, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1;4(3):308-19. doi: 10.4161/derm.22804. PMID: 23467476; PMCID: PMC3583892. 
  1. Collective Skin Care: How Detoxification Benefits the Skin 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. Products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern.