Whether you walk to work or take the tube, chances are, you always reach for the hand sanitiser before sitting down at your desk.
You most probably double cleanse your face, scrub your body clean in the shower and douse yourself in deodorant before leaving the house, too.
But have you ever considered that your squeaky clean way of living could actually be doing your skin more harm than good?
Probiotic skincare has gone boom in the last few years, and products using 'friendly' or 'good' bacteria to treat the skin are nothing new, but more often than not, the bacteria in said products are 'deactivated,' e.g. non-live. While still great for the skin in this form (they can speed up cell repair, protect against environmental aggressors and, in some cases, treat acne), there's another beneficial tier of bacteria.
Enter US-based beauty brand Mother Dirt - one of the very first to look at the role of LIVE bacteria (yep, you read that correctly) in combating 'overly clean approaches' to skincare - something which can potentially lead to inflammation, dryness, irritation and all manner of other skin issues.
'Live bacteria once lived on our skin but was wiped out by the harsh chemicals and preservatives found in modern hygiene products,' says Mother Dirt. 'This exodus caused skin issues like acne and eczema to skyrocket over the past century. We're now reversing that narrative by introducing good bacteria to our skin.'
It boasts the live culture of Ammonia Oxidising Bacteria (AOBs), usually found in soil (yes, really), and reports supported by Mother Dirt's cosmetic clinical study have revealed that regular use 'reduced dependence on soap, deodorants and moisturisers,' and left skin 'more hydrated, balanced and less oily.'
How to use it? Like a hydrating spritz, simply shake and mist away.
So how does the live bacteria work?
'Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) consume the irritating components of sweat, and converts it into nitrite and nitric oxide,' explains president of Mother Dirt, Jasmina Aganovic.
'There are benefits on both sides of the process,' Jasmina adds. 'At the beginning, removing the ammonia from the skin helps keep the pH balanced,' - this means happier, healthier skin.
'On the tail end, the production of nitrite and nitric oxide help keep balance across other micro-organisms and also promote a calming and soothing effect on the skin.'
In other words, it's like skincare care for the lazy girl - the bacteria basically does all the work for you, including improving the texture and appearance of skin peppered with sensitivity, blotchiness, dryness, oiliness and even making body odour less apparent.
That's right, you can spritz it everywhere, and it might even convince you to ditch your trusty roll-on...
Even though Mother Dirt's USP is a slightly different one, the demand for simple products that support, instead of strip, the skin is growing rapidly, not just in America, but over here, too.
You only have to glimpse the brand's Instagram to notice that more and more of us are coming round to the idea that not all bacteria are bad - that being 'clean,' 'sterile' and stocking up on products that contain lathering agents, chemicals and preservatives - no matter how luxe they look and feel - could potentially be sabotaging our glow.
In fact, according to Jasmina, skin requires certain bacteria to function normally.
'People are starting to realise that our skin, like our gut, needs a balance of good bacteria to be healthy,' she says. 'AOBiome Therapeutics is currently conducting studies on live therapeutics for the treatment of skin conditions,' she adds.
And although the brand doesn't make any claims on acne, our spot-prone skin looked a hell of a lot clearer and much less sore after a daily dose of the stuff.
There are three other products in the coveted line, but the AO+ Mist is the only one that contains live bacteria. The rest work in harmony with the much-loved mist and fortify the skin's biome (basically, it's ecosystem) allowing us to slowly weed out the harsh products we've come to rely on; products that have the ability to harm not just the skin, but the environment, too.
Here's the lowdown:
- Mother Dirt Face and Body Cleanser, £13.99
Unlike the mist, Mother Dirt's ultra-gentle, plant-derived foam cleanser doesn't contain the live AOB (Ammonia-Oxidising Bacteria), but it has gone through rigorous tests and formulation processes, which means means it removes make-up and everyday grime without stripping skin's biome of the bacteria that keeps it happy. The result? Fresh, matte skin sans the uncomfortable, tight feeling. We love.
- Mother Dirt Biome Friendly Moisturiser, £29.99
Nothing like the moisturisers currently lining your bathroom shelf, this pumps out as a clear, light-weight gel, but don't underestimate its ability to hydrate and protect your skin as well as a luxury cream. When teamed with the AO+ Mist, it works hard to maintain a healthy, happy medium. The best part? You can use it on every inch of skin, from your face to your limbs.
- Mother Dirt Shampoo, £13.99
Formulated with little to no scent, this shampoo clarifies all hair types from root to tip. Confident in the product's ability to leave lengths feeling squeaky clean and soft, Mother Dirt even suggest foregoing the conditioner, so we did, and it turned our thick hair and parched ends into silk, even without. It gets extra points for banishing flakiness.