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Mass. company uses bacteria to treat skin

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 9/8/2015 JOEL LANDAU

AOBiome's "Mother Dirt" product line contains live ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, which cleans and eliminates odor without harming the organisms that are beneficial to the skin, according to the company. © Mother Dirt AOBiome's "Mother Dirt" product line contains live ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, which cleans and eliminates odor without harming the organisms that are beneficial to the skin, according to the company. Is it time to rethink the daily shower?

MIT graduate and chemical engineer David Whitlock is part of a research group to determine the benefits of bacteria on the skin, which he says is compromised by the use of everyday moisturizers or body cleansers.

And he is taking a very unusual approach to stay away from those products.

"I have not taken a shower in over 12 years," he told CBS Boston. "No one did clinical trials on people taking showers every day. So what's the basis for assuming that that is a healthy practice?"

It may sound like Whitlock would have a serious hygienic problem, but the company says it's not true and his research may make people rethink modern skin care. He is working with a new Cambridge Mass. company called AOBiome, which uses natural bacteria found in the soil that eliminates odors and also creates benefits for the skin. They launched a product line of mists, shampoos and cleaners in July.

Jasmina Aganovic, AOBiome general manager of consumer products, told the Daily News Whitlock's personal hygiene philosophy is definitely interesting and while "he does not smell," the company is not recommending people skip showers altogether.

Water is not harmful to the body, but what the company warns about is all of the soaps and antibacterials people use that sterilize them to the healthy benefits of bacteria on the skin, she said.

"We want people to rethink the hygienic practices of the last several decades and how much we are at war with the microbacterial world," she said.

The company's "Mother Dirt," line contain live Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria that cleans and eliminates odor without harming the beneficial bacteria of the skin, she said. The products contain live AOB, a microorganism found in soil, which consume the irritating components of sweat and transform them into benefits for the skin, she said.

The eradication of the healthy bacteria leaves the skin vulnerable to skin problems such as sensitivity and dryness, the company said.

Whitlock discovered the benefits of the bacteria and is working with the company's research team to help develop the products that will give the best benefits for the skin, Aganovic said.

And in the meantime, he won't be showering.

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jlandau@nydailynews.com

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