The answer to a belter completion conkI be bacteria
Like our stomachs, skin relics on an arsenal of beneficial bacteria for protection (to battle the bad bacteria, like P. acnes, which causes breakouts) and to sustain normal function. Scientists call this environment the microbiome, and maintaining its delicate balance can mean the difference between soft, glowing skin and acne, dryness, and other issues. Probiotic skincarc aiming to do just that has been around for years (in lines such as Aurelia and Biocssc).
Hut these first-generation products only contain extracts derived from bacteria, not the actual live cultures, which may bo way more valuable, according to Dr. Larry Weiss, the chief medical officer of Boston-based startup AOBiome.
Weiss, who (ironically) invented the antibacterial hand spray Clean Well, is most interested in ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOBs). These good bacteria feed on ammonia, a chemical naturally found in sweat that can be irritating because it raises pH levels (this dehydrates skin, which should normally have a mildly acidic pH). AOBs should, theoretically, be all over our bodies doing their job. but society’s reliance on soaps and other chemicals has wiped them out and. in doing so. may have also upset the balance of our skin’s microbiome. triggering inflammation and other problems.
“Inflammatory illnesses of the skin and gut didn’t exist in humans hundreds of years ago.” explains Weiss. In fact, a 2015 study on the Amazon’s indigenous Yanomami tribe, published in Science, illustrates this point: Aside from measles (guess who gave them that?), the Yanomami have zero skin issues. “Turns out. their skin is covered with AOBs.” says Weiss, whose company has found a way to include the tiny organisms in topical products.
One of them is AOBiome’s Mother Dirt AO+ Mist (see opposite page), which must be refrigerated until its first use and starts to deactivate after about a month. When sprayed on your face after cleansing (soap kills AOBs), it can reduce dryness, balance oiliness, and calm irritation: sprayed on underarms, hands, and feet, it may even help to prevent odor. For some people, it can also reduce breakoutsbut as each person’s microbiome is unique, results vary.
“We live in an age of inflammatory diseases,” says Weiss, who notes that skin is the body’s first line of defense against illness. “Skin is the largest organ, and if there is any sort of change in its microbiome. that potentially sets up a problem.” As the medical community and cosmetics industry focus more research on the benefits of this new culture club, using products with live bacteria may soon become second nature.
Don’t have a skin doc on speed dial? Be on the lookout for WAY (above), a palm-size skin sensor from South Korean company WayWearable (there’s no U.S. launch date set, but it’s expected to cost between $119 and $135). Designed to measure facial hydration levels, as well as environmental UV and humidity levels, WAY syncs with a smartphone app via Bluetooth to provide tips specific to your skin type and age. along with general product recommendations, explains WayWearable CEO Jason Moon.