Should We Be Ditching Soap & Embracing Bacteria?

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Besauty_1_Isabel_Castillo_GuijarroIllustrated by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.
It's been ingrained in our minds since we were little kids: Bacteria is bad, and soap is good. But, what if that seemingly true mantra might not be so accurate? AOBiome, a biotech start-up based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, recently tested a living bacterial skin tonic, and lucky for us, one of its subjects, Julia Scott, shared her experiences with The New York Times.

The spray bottles of AO+ Refreshing Cosmetics Mist contain billions of cultivated Nitrosomonas eutropha, a bacteria commonly found in dirt and untreated water. Now, of all things to test on our skin, why would AOBiome resort to bacteria? The scientists believe this specific strain once lived on us and acted as a type of self-cleaner for our bodies. But, instead of harmonizing with it, we killed it off with soap and shampoo.

As part of the experiment, Scott was given the tonic to spritz herself down twice a day and was instructed to keep her showers short and product-less — that meant just three minutes of rinsing. No shampoo. No soap. But, toward the end of her experiment, her skin had actually changed for the better. So much so, in fact, that Scott was reluctant to return to her old routine.

It's easy for us to fall into the idea of "all or nothing," especially when it comes to our skin care. Instead of recognizing that some bacteria have healthy benefits, we use the word as an umbrella term to describe anything negative that may make us sick. But, if Scott's results show us anything, it's that we may want to rethink our stance on "good" bacteria. Head over to The New York Times to read her full account.

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