It was a happy day when I unexpectedly happened upon Mother Dirt. I was prepping for an interview with Dr. Raphael Kellman & his Microbiome Medicine Summit. I was speaking on the skin microbiome–something of a focus of mine at our clinic and at IFM.
Seeing loads of skin issues, it’s become highly apparent to me that the skin microbiome is likely disturbed in ALL of these cases and recovery, just like in the gut, has to include restoration of the skin’s microbial ecosystem as a part of an overall plan.
That said, I’ve perennially searched high-and-low in the literature for research on topical probiotic formulas, and for years it’s been scant. Then poof! I find this article on an MIT scientist who’s literally NOT showered for 16 years because he’s been spritzing himself daily with Mother Dirt! I was, needless to say, intrigued. Turns out Nitrosamonas eutrophia is a long-lost member of our skin’s microbiome and the major player in Mother Dirt.
After spending some time researching this critter (it’s got an interesting history, to be sure), I sent product out to a handful of the toughest skin cases in my practice, and took a bottle home for myself. The results? For me, it just feels good. For those with more challenging skin, the feedback has been uniformly positive, and in some cases, downright amazing…
From Mother Dirt
There’s an enormous buzz about the gut microbiome and for good reason. Live bacteria make up roughly 90% of the cells in our body. We’ve discovered that the gut thrives on having a diverse amount of bacteria in it, and we run into issues when that bacteria is out of balance. This has forced us to reevaluate our relationship with bacteria, not just the bacteria in our gut, but on our skin as well.
Up until about 100 years ago, humans had a naturally-occurring “peacekeeping” bacteria on our skin. Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) acted as a peacekeeper by consuming the ammonia and urea in sweat and converting it into beneficial byproducts which help the skin maintain a more balanced pH. Unfortunately, modern hygiene practices and lifestyles are rife with antibacterial soaps, gels, sanitizers, and cleansers that removed the friendly bugs on our skin (like AOB). So how do we get this healthy bacteria back on our skin?
Breaking new ground in this uncharted area is Mother Dirt, a company founded by MIT scientists and chemical engineers. Their flagship “AO+ Mist” contains live Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB), a bacteria that is found everywhere in nature where living things thrive, like rich soil. When repeatedly sprayed on the skin, these bacteria quickly colonize and act as skin care “peacekeepers.” Mother Dirt is the first to create products that nurture the bacteria on the skin, creating gentle, biome-friendly solutions (good for the ecosystem on your skin as well as the earth’s) as an antidote to our chemical-obsessed routines. Every product is vetted by AOBiome, the company’s clinical research partner, who also conducts clinical trials with the bacteria in relation to skin health.
Right now, Mother Dirt offers a biome-friendly Shampoo, Cleanser, and Moisturizer in addition to the Mist. Their motto is “less is more,” positing that this limited collection is really all many people need to maintain a healthy biome—and, by extension, more naturally balanced skin. Judging by the reviews, the hypothesis is worth a shot. Loyal customers tout the Mother Dirt line for improving the appearance of common skin issues such as oiliness, dryness, blotchiness, and sensitivity. Plus, each Mother Dirt product contains less than 10 ingredients (all plant-derived), with no preservatives, therefore each product has an expiration date. These chemicals (preservatives) can destabilize the ecosystem of the skin and also affect our environment when they get washed down the drain. So being biome-friendly is not only better for you, it helps the planet as well.
Mother Dirt acknowledges that the idea of bathing in bacteria maybe be a hard pill to swallow for some. But to those consumers, the company poses a unique challenge: experiment with your personal care regimen. Try going a few days without one product you rely on, like an aluminum-based deodorant or anything with SLS, giving your skin a rare chance to “act natural.” Stop confusing sterile for clean, and start trusting your body and your biome to take care of itself. In the end, you may find that you don’t need as many products as you think to have naturally healthy looking skin.
Learn more about Mother Dirt here
Disclaimer: The products help users maintain a balanced microbiome on their skin. The net effect of this is an improvement in the look and feel of their skin. This includes anything from improvements in hydration, the balancing of oil production, (helping with both oily and dry skin), improvements in body odor and the overall soothing of the skin. Because of these benefits, users find that they can cut down or cut out cosmetic products like soaps, deodorants, moisturizers etc.
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