I’ve been reading about these new non-soap products for a couple of years now; the idea is that your skin wasn’t really meant to have every all of its oil ripped away from it on a daily basis, and that the you skin is meant to be a habitat for lots of microbes that have evolved a symbiotic and healthy relationship for it. This is all totally logical, and still I find myself thinking, ewww.
David Whitlock has not showered or bathed for 15 years, yet he does not have body odour. “It was kind of strange for the first few months, but after that I stopped missing it,” he says. “If I get a specific part of my body dirty, then I’ll wash that specific part” – but never with soap. As well as germs, soap gets rid of the skin’s protective oils and alters its pH level. Although Whitlock appreciated gaining an extra 15 minutes a day from soap-dodging, his primary motivation was to encourage friendly microbes to live on him in symbiotic harmony. The bacteria get to feast on the ammonia from his sweat and he gets low-maintenance, balanced skin.
Which makes total sense. The benefit is, according to proponents, that you’re not only clean but your skin is healthier.
While Mother Dirt, as a cosmetic brand, makes no health claims, its owner, AOBiome, is a pharmaceutical company running clinical trials on a surprising array of treatments: not only acne, eczema and rosacea, but also allergic rhinitis, hypertension and migraine. Whitlock says that, after using AOB, he was able to stop taking a drug for his high blood pressure, a result that was replicated in AOBiome’s acne study.
Interesting; not proven at this point, but again, it does make sense. It may be that this is one of those things that’s going to leap from niche oddity to mainstream soon. Who knows? Our insect-eating, skin-flora-tending descendants may look back at our habits as weird anomalies.