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Mother Dirt.: the ingredients, the advertising gimmick and reality.

Note: another complicated post but one that relates to the popularity of “probiotics” in cosmetics.

Why the name, Mother Dirt? I think the idea behind the advertising is to appeal to our nostalgia for a Nature that we never knew.

The excuse? That hygiene in modern life kills the bacteria we need to make our skin happy. The solution? Spray bacteria on your skin, not one of the bacteria known to live in our skin as “commensals” but one that happens to prefer wastewater, rich in ammonia which they can oxidize (and use the energy obtained to fix carbon dioxide as plants do) and live on. They can’t use other sources of energy.

This is a case of “have bacteria, find something for it to do”. In fact, it does, this company did set trials to test Nitrosomonas spraying effect on migraines, acne, wrinkles, and other skin problems. The most interesting omission: they fail to measure if the bacteria are alive and working on this skin (or nostrils) after spraying. Taking into account that this bacteria is hard to culture, this is the most important factor. Are they measuring the effect of bacteria or placebo?

You may also wonder how they get away with selling a product that, they say, has live bacteria in it when this is not allowed in cosmetics. Answer: I don’t know but my guess is that the Nitrosomonas, even is it was alive, would not grow in the conditions used to measure contamination of cosmetics by bacteria and mold.

In this line, the only “special” product is the bacterial spray. The rest are oil mixes and washes containing the usual suspects.

AO+ Mist: Aqua (water), Nitrosomonas eutropha (live), disodium phosphate, magnesium chloride.

Moisturizer: Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Linoleic Acid, Phytosterols, Phospholipids, Tocopherol (antioxidant)

Cleanser: Aqua (water), Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Lauramidopropyl Betaine (plant-based cleanser), Coco-Glucoside (plant-based cleanser), Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Glycerin (moisture-binding), Hydroxypropylcellulose (thickener), Hydrolyzed Quinoa (moisture-binding)

Shampoo: water), Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate and Lauramidopropyl Betaine (detergents), Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Sodium Chloride, Squalane, Hydrolyzed Baobab Seed Extract (probably where the preservative is hidden).

Body Wash: Water), Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate, Lauramidopropyl Betaine (detergents), Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Sodium Chloride, Glycerine, Lauryl Glucoside, Sweet Almond Oil, Coco-Caprylate, Hydrolyzed Pea Protein, Citric Acid.     Somewhere here are the hidden preservatives.

Body Oil: Sweet Almond Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Crambe Seed Oil, Heptyl Undecylenate, Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides, Tocopherol, Lemongrass Oil, Citral, Geraniol, Limonene (fragrances).


Take home message: Let Nitrosomonas clean our wastewater, not our skin. This is not a bacteria meant to be in our skin or our nose.

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