Could washing your face with bacteria instead of skin-stripping soaps actually benefit the skin? Mother Dirt, a probiotic skincare company and mission-driven biotech startup, thinks so.
The skin, the body’s largest organ, is covered with a diverse ecosystem of harmless (and even beneficial) bacteria. The primary role of the skin biome is to act as a physical barrier and protect our bodies from foreign organisms, toxic substances, and protect against pathogens and harmful organisms, according to this 2011 review.
“The skin is also an interface with the outside environment and, as such, is colonized by a diverse collection of microorganisms — including bacteria, fungi and viruses — as well as mites,” the study notes.
If the sound of mites and fungi on your face has you reaching for the scrub and cleanser, however, take a step back says Jasmina Aganovic, president and founder of Mother Dirt.
Organic Authority caught up with Jasmina to discuss all things Mother Dirt, the skin microbiome, and how earplugs are surprisingly, life changing.
Organic Authority: Jasmina, we'd love to hear your (condensed!) story. Tell us how you came to be the president of Mother Dirt.
Jasmina Aganovic: “Having graduated from MIT, my background is in Chemical and Biological Engineering, but my career has been mostly in skincare. I was connected to David Whitlock and Jamie Heywood when the technology around the bacteria was in the early days. We shared the belief that ‘clean’ has been confused for ‘sterile’ and casually started talking about the potential of a brand to help reframe the relationship between humans and microbes. This was the beginning of what would become Mother Dirt.”
OA: Tell us about Mother Dirt. What makes Mother Dirt different from other skincare lines?
JA: “We're the only line of products that contains live Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria, and we're also the only brand to have an assay developed to formulate products for a neutral impact on the skin microbiome. In this way, Mother Dirt is the first and only ‘biome friendly’ skincare line. “
OA: Mother Dirt products contain AOB. What is AOB?
JA: “AOB stands for Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria. It's a type of live microbe that comes from the soil and once lived on human skin up until we cleaned it away using harsh chemicals and preservatives found in modern hygiene products. Research is showing it plays an important role as a peacekeeper on the skin - helping keep the balance.”
OA: Mother Dirt's AO+ Spray has developed a cult following. What's so special about it?
“It's literally a live-spray-on-bacteria! It's really a different way of thinking of taking care of your skin that goes against much of what we have conventionally been told. The AOBs consume irritating components in sweat and convert them into useful ingredients for the skin, ingeniously rebalancing the skin biome to a more balanced state. With continued use, the Mist improves the look and feel of the skin and reduces dependence on conventional products like soaps and deodorants.”
OA: Your products are formulated to work with the skin biome. What is the skin biome and why do we need to focus on it?
JA: “The skin biome is the ecosystem of microorganisms that live on the skin. Research is showing that they potentially play a crucial role in how our skin looks, feels, and acts. By over cleaning it, or exposing it to too much chemistry, we could be destabilizing it, leaving our skin more susceptible to issues.”
OA: Does the skin biome effect the microbiome? How?
JA: “The link is not yet understood, but it is looking like the human body is one giant ecosystem that is constantly in communication. It's easy to see why it is an area that many researchers are very curious and optimistic about.”
OA: How can we work to improve our skin biome? Are there any lifestyle factors that we can reduce or incorporate?
JA: “The best advice on this front is really ‘less is more’. Don't overwash, overclean, or overdo anything when it comes to your skin.”
OA: What's your opinion on food and skin health? Are there any skin-loving and biome friendly foods on your radar?
JA: “I've always eaten healthy but don't abide by a specific ‘diet’. Generally I just try to make sure I eat well-balanced meals and avoid processed food when possible. In terms of skin-loving foods: I love bone broth - especially Brodo in NYC.”
OA: What's one wellness routine, food, or activity that you can't live without?
JA: “Don't roll your eyes, but the AO+ Mist - seriously. Can't live without it. Pilates has also been a staple of my routine since high school.”
OA: We love a good health tip. Have any favorites?
JA: “When I'm traveling, ear plugs have changed my life. You never know when you'll want to catch some sleep, or if you'll be in a hotel room with bad sound insulation.”
OA: Finally, what's next for Mother Dirt?
JA: “We just launched in the EU this month, so it’s been a very exciting few weeks. There has been a huge demand from that market ever since we first launched. Overall, what’s most important to us is continuing to spread the conversation about making a world where clean comes with healthy! There's plenty of work to do there!”
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