“I Have not taken a shower in over 12 years”
David Whitlock, a chemical engineer and one of the founders of AOBiome, hasn’t taken a shower in over 12 years. “No one did clinical trials on people taking showers every day. So what’s the basis for assuming that that is a healthy practice?” he told CBS News in Boston. Mr Whitlock helped found AOBiome in 2013 and the company is all about “nurturing” the good bacteria on the skin. AOBiome wants us to maximise our skin’s ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB), which is most commonly found in dirt and untreated water.
In July the company launched a series of products called Mother Dirt, there’s a mist, a cleanser and a shampoo, which cleanse the body without removing bacteria. The mist, which has no odour and feels like water, contains live bacteria and is designed to be sprayed directly onto the skin twice a day. The shampoo and cleanser don’t contain bacteria, but won’t kill the bacteria already on your body.
“We’ve confused clean with sterile,” AOBiome’s general manager of consumer products Jasmina Aganovic told CBS. “We’ve taken the dirt out of our lives. We don’t spend as much time outdoors as we used to, even little children.”
“Our users are able to reduce their dependence on conventional products. Examples include cutting out or cutting down on deodorant, cutting out or cutting down on moisturizers,” she said.
Last year, New York Times journalist Julia Scott met Mr Whitlock and spent a month trialling the AOBiome products when they were in testing phase, writing about the experience in a widely shared article. She was required to mist her face, scalp and body with bacteria twice a day.
“AOBiome scientists hypothesise that (AOB) once lived happily on us too, before we started washing it away with soap and shampoo, acting as a built-in cleanser, deodorant, anti-inflammatory and immune booster by feeding on the ammonia in our sweat and converting it into nitrite and nitric oxide,” she wrote. Julia stopped using all beauty products for a month and found that her hair became greasy and she had bad BO.
“People began asking if I’d ‘done something new’ with my hair, which turned a full shade darker for being coated in oil that my scalp wouldn’t stop producing. I slept with a towel over my pillow and found myself avoiding parties and public events. Mortified by my body odour, I kept my arms pinned to my sides, unless someone volunteered to smell my armpit. One friend detected the smell of onions. Another caught a whiff of ‘pleasant pot’.
I guess you really have to smell it to believe it!
“When I visited the gym, I followed AOBiome’s instructions, misting myself before leaving the house and again when I came home. The results: After letting the spray dry on my skin, I smelled better. Not odourless, but not as bad as I would have ordinarily. And, oddly, my feet didn’t smell at all.
But Julia says her skin drastically improved.
“It actually became softer and smoother, rather than dry and flaky, as though a sauna’s worth of humidity had penetrated my winter-hardened shell. And my complexion, prone to hormone-related breakouts, was clear.
“For the first time ever, my pores seemed to shrink. As I took my morning “shower,” a three-minute rinse in a bathroom devoid of hygiene products, I remembered all the antibiotics I took as a teenager to quell my acne. How funny it would be if adding bacteria were the answer all along,” she wrote.
Mr Whitlock said: “I would like a billion people a day to use this.”