What Does Gut Bacteria Have To Do With The Barbie Movie Cast’s Doll-Like Skin? We Investigate

Find out how the cast of the Barbie movie kept their skin in tip top shape.

Barbie the movie skin secrets
Photo Artwork: Joy Adaeze

The bar was high for the Barbie cast when it came to their skin: They’re playing living dolls so, basically, they had to be perfect. 

[SEE ALSO: 5 Black Girl Barbie Beauty Moments We Can’t Help But Stan]

London-based skin expert Jasmina Vico was called in to treat the Barbies—including America Ferrera, Hari Nef and Margot Robbie—to customized skin and wellness therapies like lasers, pressure point massage, lymphatic drainage, and LED therapy. 

Vico also placed them on her “gut x skin protocol,” which meant taking probiotics and going on a fermented food diet, heavy on the kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir. 

More and more people are becoming aware of the gut-skin axis and how our skin is directly affected by our diet and lifestyle.

We asked NYC-based nutritionist Jennifer Maeng, MS, RD, CDN, CNSC, Registered Dietitian, Author, and Founder of Chelsea Nutrition to learn more about the Barbie kimchi approach to skincare.

Reflect Beauty: Can you tell us about the gut-skin axis? What is it and how much can we affect or improve our skin by what we eat?

Jennifer Maeng: The “gut-skin axis” is a term used to describe the connection and communication between the gut (digestive system) and the skin. It’s based on the understanding that there is a complex interaction between these two systems, where changes in the gut can influence the health and appearance of the skin, and vice versa. 

This concept is supported by various scientific studies that have explored the relationship between gut health, the microbiome (the community of microorganisms living in the gut), and skin conditions. It’s believed that imbalances in the gut microbiome can lead to inflammation and systemic effects that might manifest in the form of skin issues, such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and even premature aging.

Conversely, skin conditions can also impact the gut. For example, chronic skin inflammation could contribute to changes in the gut microbiota composition.The gut-skin axis is an emerging area of research, and while there’s still much to learn about the specifics of this connection, it highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy gut through a balanced diet, proper hydration, and other factors to potentially promote better skin health. 

RB: The Barbie cast was put on a skin diet that included kimchi and other fermented foods. Can you explain why that’s good for our skin?

JM: Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented dish made from vegetables, primarily napa cabbage and Korean radishes, mixed with a variety of seasonings. It’s known for its tangy and spicy flavor, but beyond its taste, kimchi has been associated with potential benefits for skin health due to its fermentation process and nutritional content. Here’s why kimchi could be considered good for your skin: 

Probiotics and Gut Health

Kimchi is a probiotic-rich food, which means it contains live beneficial bacteria that support a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome can help with digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune system regulation. Since the gut-skin axis suggests a connection between gut health and skin health, a well-functioning gut microbiome might contribute to better skin conditions.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties 

Kimchi contains various spices and ingredients, such as garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, that have anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation in the body can contribute to skin issues like acne and eczema. Consuming foods with anti-inflammatory properties, like kimchi, can potentially help alleviate such skin problems. 

Vitamins and Antioxidants 

Kimchi’s ingredients are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Vitamins like A and C, as well as antioxidants, play a role in maintaining healthy skin by protecting it from environmental damage, promoting collagen production, and supporting overall skin health. 

Fermentation Benefits 

The fermentation process used to make kimchi can enhance its nutritional profile. Fermentation can increase the availability of certain nutrients and generate bioactive compounds that might positively affect skin health. 

However, it’s important to note that while kimchi can potentially have positive effects on skin health due to its probiotics, nutrients, and anti-inflammatory properties, individual responses can vary. For example, if you have allergies or sensitivities to any of kimchi’s ingredients, it’s important to exercise caution. Consulting with a registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance based on your health needs and goals. 

Other fermented foods that are good for your gut are yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and any pickled vegetables (with salt, not vinegar). 


RB: Can you give some recommendations for what we can eat for glowing skin and what we should absolutely avoid?

Identifying and addressing food sensitivities or allergies can significantly impact both gut health and skin health. Some individuals may experience skin issues as a result of certain food sensitivities. At Chelsea Nutrition, we offer a comprehensive gut health test to have a clear understanding of what we can do for our clients. But for healthy individuals, here are a few things you can do starting today to have great skin.


Drinking an adequate amount of water is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and overall bodily functions. Proper hydration helps keep the skin hydrated, improves circulation, and supports the body’s natural detoxification processes. 

Diverse Diet

Consuming a wide variety of plant-based foods introduces a diverse range of nutrients and fibers into the gut. This can promote a healthy gut microbiome, which has been linked to various aspects of health, including skin health. Different types of fiber can act as prebiotics, supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. 

Chewing Food

Chewing food thoroughly is an often-overlooked aspect of digestion. Properly chewing your food aids in breaking it down into smaller particles, which makes it easier for digestive enzymes to work effectively. This can help prevent gastrointestinal discomfort and support proper nutrient absorption too! Think applesauce-like consistency! 

What do you think of the gut health diet? Let us know in the comment section!