I never got on board with antibacterial anything.
I get it. Cleanliness and hygiene help you fight germs and stay healthy. But there’s a thing as too clean.
Not all bacteria are bad. Take your skin for example. It’s home to millions of little bacteria that help it stay strong and healthy, strengthen its protective barrier, and act as your first line of defence against aggressors.
When you clean your skin too well and kill off too many of these good bacteria, lots of bad things happen: your skin becomes dry, is easily irritated, and takes ages to heal. Ugh.
Enter Mother Dirt. It’s a natural skincare range that makes products that nourish and clean skin without killing off all the good bacteria that live on it. One of the products even has live bacteria to replenish your skin’s microbiome!
I’ve been playing around with the products for a while now. Here are my thoughts on them (spoiler: if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, you need these):
Mother Dirt AO + Mist
AO + Mist is the only products in the range to have live bacteria. Nitrosomonas eutropha, to be exact.
Nitrosomonas eutropha is a bacteria that metabolises ammonia, a major component of sweat. Scientists believe it’s particularly suited to human skin because ammonia oxidation products play a big role in important skin functions, such as inflammation and wound healing.
A study done by AOBiome LLC shows that this bacteria improves skin’s condition compared to a placebo. The catch? The participants in the study didn’t really wash for two weeks. Even gentle surfactants will remove some bacteria from your skin (that’s why Mother Dirt cleanser + shampoo are super, super gentle).
It’s too early to tell how well live bacteria in skincare work but if you have sensitive skin or a broken skin barrier (you’ll know because your skin gets all dried up and is easily irritated), this may help soothe it and heal faster.
I can’t vouch for it personally cos my skin isn’t sensitive and I didn’t have any inflammation or wounds to soothe and heal. I guess my skin’s microbiome is pretty healthy. You will see more of an improvement if yours isn’t.
Either way, I find it very refreshing. I like to spritz it on on a warm summer day to cool off my skin.
One more thing: keep it in the fridge. Live bacteria don’t stay alive too long when it gets too hot.
Related: How To Strengthen Your Skin’s Protective Barrier (And Why It Matters)
Don’t how to mix and match skincare ingredients and what can’t be used together? Download your FREE “How To Layer Actives Like A Pro” cheatsheet to maximise your skincare routine:
Mother Dirt Cleanser
Mother Dirt Cleanser is my least fave of the lot… but that’s only because I’m not too fond of the fragrance.
Or better, of the natural odour of the ingredients. Mother Dirt didn’t add any fragrance to keep the cleanser suitable even for the most sensitive of skin types. I like that. Fragrance has no place in skincare. I’m just mentioning it in case scent matters to you.
Either way, you’ll only smell it for a few seconds. And then walk away with clean, soft skin.
The gentle foaming cleanser uses two mild cleansing agents (lauramidopropyl betaine and coco glucoside) to gently melt away dirt and excess oil without drying out skin and bothering its microbiome.
But it struggles with makeup. I use it as a morning cleanse but in the evening, I still turn to the oil cleansing method to remove concealer and waterproof mascara.
If you don’t wear makeup, you can use it in the evening too. Plus, it makes for a good shower gel too. I like that I can use it all over.
It doesn’t foam much, but that’s just proof of how gentle it is. Literally everyone can use it, but you’ll appreciate it more if you have sensitive skin, rosacea, acne or any other skin woe. It’ll clean your skin without aggravating anything.
On the contrary, because it respects your skin’s micriobiome, it may help your skin heal faster too.
Mother Dirt Moisturiser
Mother Dirt Moisturiser is my fave of the lot. It’s a basic but super moisturising moisturiser literally everyone can use. Dry skin. Sensitive skin. Oily skin. Acne skin. You name it. Here’s what makes it so good:
- Squalane: An oil found naturally in the skin. It absorbs quickly, boosts its hydration and strengthen your skin’s barrier. The best part? It doesn’t give you pimples.
- Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride: Derived from coconut oil and glycerin, it’s loaded with fatty acids that create a barrier on the skin to keep moisture in. It’s super moisturising and doesn’t usually clog pores.
- Linoleic acid: A multitasker that moisturises skin, soothes inflammation and reduces mini pimples. If you’ve got acne, your skin probably lacks enough linoelic acid. Adding it back into your skin can help it heal faster.
In other words, this Moisturiser feeds your skin just the right stuff to keep it soft and smooth all day. Plus, all these fatty acids strengthen your skin’s protective barrier so that moisture doesn’t escape and germs and bacteria don’t get in. If your skin is very sensitive or inflamed, get yourself a bottle pronto.
Sure, I wish it had its fair share of antioxidants but I can always supplement those with an antioxidant serum.
One more thing: the texture’s runny and oily but absorbs quickly (your skin recognises squalane and soaks it up pronto). I find a small pump is more than enough for the face. This is a case where less is more.
Related: Is Linoleic Acid The Key To Fighting Acne?
Mother Dirt Shampoo
I admit it: I was ready to hate on Mother Dirt Shampoo. I have oily hair. Sulfate-free shampoos or shampoos with very mild surfactants don’t work for me. I’ve tried a bunch at the beginning of the year and for four months, I was walking around with a head covered in grease. Ugh.
So I just knew this would not work for me. Except it did. I know, boggles the mind.
Let’s be clear: when I use a shampoo with more powerful surfactants, like sodium laureth sulfate, my hair stays clean for the entire day and the day after. When I use Mother Dirt Shampoo, my hair starts getting a little too greasy the day after.
But the fact it kept my hair soft and clean for an entire day is amazing. All the other mild shampoos I’ve tried couldn’t even keep it clean for two hours. I kid you not. I washed my hair and a few minutes later it was a greasy mess again.
If your hair isn’t oily, even better. Mother Dirt Shampoo will keep it clean for way longer without drying out your hair or irritating your scalp. It uses gentle cleansing agents (sodium laurylglucosides hydroxypropylsulfonate and lauramidopropyl betaine, if you’re curious) to remove dirt and excess oil plus squalene to condition it and keep it soft.
The texture’s just right: it’s not so runny that it bleeds everywhere but it’s not so thick it’s difficult to spread. You can easily control how much you use.
Oh, it doesn’t really foam much but don’t let that fool you. You don’t need foam to cleanse (that’s just a gimmick to make you think it works).
The only “con” for me is the scent. Not the best but when it comes to skin and hair care, I’d take fragrance-free over the most beautiful scents anyday.
If you have sensitive scalp, dry hair or just want to make your haircare routine more natural, this’ll do the trick.
Price & Availability
AO + Mist, £49.99; Cleanser, £13.99; Moisturiser, £29.99 and Shampoo, £13.99 at Content Beauty
Mother Dirt AO+ Mist Ingredients
Aqua (water), Nitrosomonas eutropha, disodium phosphate, magnesium chloride (natural salts)
Mother Dirt Cleanser Ingredients
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)
Mother Dirt Moisturizer Ingredients
Squalane (from olives), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (from coconut), Linoleic Acid, Phytosterols, Phospholipids (vegetable derived), Tocopherol
Mother Dirt Shampoo Ingredients
Aqua (water), Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate (plant-based cleanser), Lauramidopropyl Betaine (plant-based cleanser), Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Sodium Chloride, Squalane (olive oil-derived conditioner), Hydrolyzed Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Seed Extract (softener)