There’s a start-up in Massachusetts that’s banking on the fact that, in the very near future, lots of people will start their day by rubbing bacteria all over their bodies instead of jumping in the shower.
Yes, you read that right.
The company, called AOBiome, has developed a “living bacterial skin tonic.” Instead of killing elements of our human skin biome (aka the microscopic critters that live in and on our bodies) like traditional soaps, cosmetics, perfumes and deodorants, this tonic would replenish them. Greater numbers of healthy bacteria help restore your skin to its natural harmony, says the company, leading to the strong skin and hair we want, without all the chemical baggage.
Although it sounds wacky, AOBiome’s product dovetails perfectly with what science is starting to understand about bacteria’s role in health and wellness. “These beneficial bacteria are the real-world version of Star Wars’ midi-chlorian: when they’re unhappy, there is most definitely a disturbance in the force,” as I wrote in a recent article about why flatulence is a good thing. “Unhealthy (or too few) gut bacteria can affect brain function, mental health and digestive efficacy. Likewise healthy gut flora deliver a wealth of benefits, like reduced risk of obesity and diabetes.” The same goes for bacteria that live elsewhere on our bodies.
Protecting them, instead of exterminating them, is the mission of AOBiome. The company’s AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist is a cosmetic spray made of safe live cultured Nitrosomonas bacteria that live off the ammonia in the sweat on your skin. “[P]articipants who applied AO+ Mist had improved skin appearance, smoothness and tightness compared with those applying a placebo,” explains the company’s website.
Although you could give up showering if you wanted to (inventor David Whitlock has chosen to not shower since his discovery of AOB, and no he doesn’t smell), it’s not required. “…AOB are detectable and present in 95% of cases with daily showering and application and that AOB continue to survive in 60% of subjects for up to 7 days without additional applications as long as shampoo is not used,” explains the site.
Still think it sounds crazy? You might find it surprising that many people disagree. The company is currently out of stock of AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist and you have to get on a mailing list to be notified when more is ready.