My first step towards improving my skin microbiome was to stop killing my friends. We got rid of all but one of the antibacterial products in the house and switched back to simple, regular soap. Dr. Bronner's soap, mixed with a little water, works great in those "foaming" hand pump bottles. No hand sanitizer gels either. Killing 99.9% of bacteria with hand sanitizer is proving to be a futile effort and could be doing more harm than good. They are a waste of money and, as discussed in Part 1, can contribute to the creation of "super bugs" or antibiotic resistant bacteria. Normally the good and bad bacteria live together in a balanced system in your gut and on your skin. The good ones crowd out the bad ones in a healthy system. Every time you kill 99.9% of bacteria (as some products claim) you alter this natural balance and create an opportunity for the bad bacteria to take control. At the same time, these bad bacteria evolve to survive repeated exposure to antibiotic compounds. This is why I never use antibiotic products on my skin. The one antibacterial product we do have is a bottle of Method Antibacterial All Purpose Cleaner used to wipe down the kitchen countertops after handling raw meat, which is common in our house. Most bacteria are good, but not all, and all raw meat should be properly handled and cooked. (I don't want to get into the perils of factory farming in this article. However, please feel free to discuss in the comments below. )
A couple of little tweaks to my daily routine were all I needed to start cultivating a healthy skin microbiome. I just changed my shampoo and body wash and added one new product. The added product is probably the weirdest thing I do if you ask my wife. I spray live bacteria all over myself a couple times per day. She calls them my germs. Mother Dirt Mist is a product developed by AOBiome LLC that is a probiotic for your skin. You may have heard of the founder of AOBiome. He's been featured in the news as the guy who hasn't showered for 12 years. The Mother Dirt Mist contains a specific type of live bacteria known as AOB. These Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria feed on the ammonia and urea compounds in your sweat and convert them into useful Nitrite and Nitric Oxide compounds. AOB are found in the dirt, and all through human history, we benefited from exposure to them. Only very recently in our evolution have we started bathing ourselves in concentrated soap solutions and killing off these helpful microbes.
Unlike David Whitlock, the founder of AOBiome, I still take showers every day. But now I use the AOB friendly Mother Dirt Shampoo and Cleanser and then spray the Mist afterward. AOB are easily killed by the preservatives found in common soaps, shampoos, and deodorant. Preservatives are great for extending a product's shelf life, but not so good for your skin. Mother Dirt Shampoo and Cleanser are AOB friendly because they do not contain any preservatives. Swimming in a chlorinated pool will also kill your AOB. Not a big deal, I still enjoy the occasional dip in the pool, I just continue to spray the mist a couple times everyday to restore the AOB. Alternatively, swimming in the Ocean has been proven safe for AOB. You could skip the Mother Dirt Mist and just go outside and roll around in the dirt, just like my dog does after a bath. I prefer the convenience of the spray bottle.
What are the results? I noticed a dramatic improvement in my skin quality shorty after I started using the Mother Dirt products. My skin is much softer, and nearly a year later I still notice how good it feels. The occasional pimple I would get on my face, maybe one a week, has essentially stopped happening. My skin has never been better. I have also noticed a difference after getting sweaty while exercising or being outside in the summer heat. Before using the Mother Dirt Mist, I would feel dirty and immediately need to shower after my workouts. Now I don't have that gross feeling and have no problem if I skip the shower. The AOB eat the sweat. I wouldn't go out to a fancy dinner without showering, but the dirty feeling caused by sweating is gone. Some people have reportedly been able to stop using deodorant while using the Mist. I tried, and I am not one of those people, but I did notice a reduction in application frequency.
AOBiome is a very interesting company. I recommend you read the literature on their websites www.aobiome.com and www.motherdirt.com. I went a little bit further and read the entire patent CA2414941 C for the AOB products. Currently, the AOB products are only marketed for cosmetic purposes and are pending FDA approval for medical use. AOBiome cannot advertise the medical benefits yet, but they are potentially game changing. Reading through the patent reveals the company's plans for how these AOB can be used in a medical applications. It's a lot more than just skin quality. The Nitrite and Nitric Oxide generated by the AOB are absorbed by through the skin into circulation and have many physiological benefits, including heart and brain function. I am looking forward to watching their product offerings expand the in coming years.
Thanks for reading Part 2, if you missed Part 1, please check it out and follow my social accounts to stay tuned for Part 3 where I discuss how I analyze and track changes in my microbiome. Another a quick teaser - UBiome.