062: Jasmina Aganovic on Good Clean Dirt

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The Wellness Mama Podcast
062: Jasmina Aganovic on Good Clean Dirt

Today I’m spending time with Jasmina Aganovic, scientist, cosmetics expert, and president of Mother Dirt, a fascinating company founded on one simple premise:

Don’t be afraid of a little good, clean dirt.

You all know I’m a big fan of letting kids play outside as much as possible, and even better if they’re barefoot and digging in the mud! I’m happy to have an MIT-educated chemical and biological engineer like Jasmina on my side. In this podcast episode, she explains why playing in the dirt benefits kids (and all of us) so much, and why we don’t need to be as clean as we think we do.

Less cleaning? I’m listening!

In This Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • The deeper connection between our skin and our immune system
  • How our skin’s unique microbiome develops … and is threatened … from birth
  • Why an overemphasis on cleanliness might not be best for you or your kids
  • Common misconceptions behind antibacterial products and cleansers
  • What unique benefits soil has to offer your health
  • Practical ways to fight bad bacteria naturally … and why most bacteria isn’t bad at all
  • How to manage acne and other skin issues while simplifying your beauty routine
  • How Mother Dirt’s “living” products work with your natural sweat to restore your skin’s healthiest balance

Mother Dirt: Rethinking “Clean”

The connection between healthy gut flora and good health has gotten a lot of press in the natural health world in recent years. But more and more researchers like Jasmina suspect that just as a bacterial gut imbalance can lead to disease and poor health, a bacterial imbalance on your skin can also have deeper health effects.

While we still have a lot to learn about the complex bacteria found in our bodies, here’s what she and other researchers on the pioneering edge of microbiome research have found:

We as a society are keeping things too clean.

In fact, when we wash too frequently or with the wrong products, we can actually wipe away good, protective, necessary bacteria from our skin.

And this problem has gotten significantly worse in recent decades.

The Rise of Antibacterial Products

It all started out unintentionally enough, Jasmina explains, in hospitals—a fitting place for antibacterial products.

Companies soon caught on. Antibacterial cleaning products became available in homes and schools across the nation. And we as a society started to see killing “99.99% of bacteria” as a good thing, when in reality only a single-digit percentage of all bacteria is actually harmful.

Basically, outside of a hospital setting or a superbug epidemic, we need to leave well enough alone and let our skin do what it was meant to do. In most cases, plain old fashioned soap will do, as Jasmina, the Mother Dirt company, and recently even the FDA remind us.

The Decline of Dirt (Or, What’s Dirt Got to Do with It?)

Okay, so maybe we’re thinking about easing off the hand sanitizer, but do we really have to get … dirty?

Yes! Yes, the answer actually lies in dirt … as in soil.

Soil contains a unique good bacteria, one that’s actually necessary to all living things. It’s called Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria, or “AOB” for short.

The Mother Dirt website explains:

Ammonia-Oxidizing-Bacteria (AOB), also known as “Nitrifying Bacteria,” are microorganisms that consume ammonia for energy and are present wherever a nitrogen cycle is taking place….

AOBs are found everywhere in nature…. If you’ve ever walked barefoot on dirt, swam in a lake or the ocean, you probably emerged refreshed and covered with AOBs.

Modern living makes it too easy for us to be inside, away from the beneficial bacteria found in the great outdoors. We wake up in our houses, drive in our cars to work or school, and spend much of the day in semi-sterile environments treated with antibacterial products.

This has weakened our skin biomes, and according to experts like Jasmina, they need to be restored.

But how?

The “Living” Benefits of Mother Dirt Products

Mother Dirt products actually contain live AOBs and add them back onto your skin where they act as a kind of “peacemaker” between good and bad bacteria.

With the living power of AOBs (and the absence of preservatives and harsh cleansers), these products can:

  • naturally reduce body odor
  • restore your skin’s natural moisture barrier
  • decrease your need for products like deodorant, conditioner, and moisturizer
  • improve or resolve chronic skin conditions
  • simplify your beauty (okay, skin health) routine

All this leads to healthier skin, fewer breakouts, and a decrease in skin issues … all while using fewer products!

Simple Steps to a Healthy Skin Biome

While they’re extremely helpful, Mother Dirt products aren’t the only way to restore your skin’s natural balance.

Here are just some of Jasmina’s practical steps toward a healthy skin biome you can start putting into practice in your family today:

  • Use plain soap and water instead of antibacterial products
  • Skip the hand sanitizer and use a simple wet wipe when handwashing isn’t available
  • Only bathe when you’re really dirty, or just cleanse the offending areas
  • Dilute and use biome-friendly soaps when you can (such as Mother Dirt)
  • Avoid antibacterial products in the home (these really just belong in hospitals)
  • Spend as much time as possible in nature … even barefoot!
  • Open up a dialogue with your family and friends about these topics, reversing some of the typical assumptions
  • Avoid preservatives in personal care products … period.

But don’t take my word for it … tune in and hear what the expert has to say!

Resources We Mention:


[toggle title=”Read Transcript”]
Katie: Welcome to the Healthy Moms Podcast. I’m Katie from
wellnessmama.com, and I’m so excited today to be here with Jasmina
Aganovic, who is the president of Mother Dirt. This is a really cool
company that I’ve recently found. Basically it’s a line of a biome-friendly
personal care products that their whole focus is to restore the balance of
bacteria on the skin. And, I feel like this is a new area of research, which
is why I’m so excited to delve into it. I feel like we know a ton about the
gut biome, but not so much about the skin biome. So her company,
basically this is the consumer division of a company called AOBiome,
which is a biotech company that’s focused on advancing and
transforming human health by using products that restore a special
bacteria called ammonia oxidizing bacteria, or AOB, which a lot of
current hygiene products have stripped away. So not only are we not
getting these bacteria, but all the hygiene products that we use are
actually taking them away. So, Jasmina is a cosmetics and consumer
goods entrepreneur who has a degree in chemical and biological
engineering from MIT, which is certainly nothing to laugh at. And her
path has led her to these companies, and I’m so excited to chat with her
today, because a lot of you guys who have been listening for a while
know that I’m a big fan of letting kids play in dirt, interacting with dirt,
which obviously is a different focus, but I feel the bacterial aspect is
really important. So Jasmina, welcome. Thank you so much for being

Jasmina: Ahh, thanks for having us, Katie. I’m excited to chat with you

Katie: Me too. I feel like this is one of those really important topics that
we’re about to see a whole lot about. I feel like most people are aware of
there’s gut bacteria and there’s a gut biome, and so most people
understand that the gut has trillions of bacteria, and that the microbiome
in the gut affects health in a lot of different ways, including like the
immune system, in so many ways we’re just now finding. But, I feel like
this is kind of the pioneering edge of microbiome research, about the
diverse microbiome that exist in other parts of the body, like on the skin.
So let’s just jump in there. Can you talk about how that’s the same or
different from the microbiome in the gut, and how they interact, if at all?

Jasmina: Yeah, well actually you’re bringing up this really interesting
point that the whole medical and academic community is starting to
realize, which is that, you know, creating these really separated silos of
ecosystems, and thinking that the human body is not as interconnected
as it is is kind of a profound way of looking at the human body. So, you
know, going back to the gut, just for a moment before we leap into the
skin, just like you said, so much of the research that’s going on in the gut
has been tied to some research that’ll potentially have some really
serious implications to the treatment of diseases and the optimization of
health, but really what we’re realizing is that it isn’t just about gut health
anymore. We’re certainly seeing research in the gut also affecting other
things, like potentially mental health, sleep, and things that you wouldn’t
necessarily in a conventional way view as very connected. And, you
know, when we look at the skin, the skin also has an ecosystem like the
gut. There are some really similar parallels, where, you know, an
imbalance in the gut can lead to issues in the gut, and potentially
elsewhere. Same thing we’re starting to realize in the skin. If there is an
imbalance in the skin, the skin has a really difficult time being healthy
and feeling good, and things along those lines. Diversity is also a big,
factor so there’s a lot of research for the gut, showing that potentially the
more diverse the ecosystem in the gut is, the healthier the person tends
to be. And, as we look at things for the skin, the same could be true. As
we look at people from indigenous tribes, or people who typically have
what we view as healthier skin, the relative diversity of bacteria on their
skin seems to be much higher than what people who kind of struggle
with their skin, or have diseased skin states have. So there are a lot of
really similar parallels, but it’s very different, because there are different
microorganisms that exist in each. You don’t have the same bacteria in
the gut as you do on your skin, and so it is a little bit of a new frontier
that requires a slightly different way of thinking and researching.

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. So, from what you’re saying, too, the, obviously,
since the body is so interconnected, the bacteria we have on our skin
also do, obviously get inside of our body as well, through just our normal
interaction with our skin, to our mouth, and eating and everything like
that. And I find that especially fascinating when I’m watching my little
kids, because I’ve thought of this for long time, like with toddlers
especially, for years and years and years. Babies that age have crawled
around on dirt, and they put sticks in their mouth, and now everything is
sterile and we boil their toys to make sure they’re sanitary, but I love
actually that that makes sense now, that the reason that babies want to
play outside and crawl in the dirt, they’re actually developing both their
skin and their internal biome. So, what do we understand about the
specific mechanisms between how the skin biome affects the gut

Jasmina: Well we do know that the research is really early on. There’s
some research being done by the group at UPenn that doesn’t, you
know, relate directly to the gut, but I thought that the takeaway was
pretty interesting, which is that they view the microbiome of the skin as
kind of like the eyes and ears of the immune system. And by constantly
cleaning and kind of sterilizing our skin, we’re effectively kind of
deafening and blinding this important link to our immune system. And
eventually when you deafen and blind this link, what the immune system
does to protect itself from potential danger, because that’s all it really
cares about, it goes into a proinflammatory state. And, because it
doesn’t know what’s out there, so it would rather kind of fight
preemptively than assume that everything is fine. And this is why we
believe that there’s been such a rapid increase in inflammatory skin
diseases. Children in particular, one in six children struggle with eczema,
and interestingly enough, it tracks with asthma. So about 90% of the
children that have asthma also happen to have eczema, and that’s a
really interesting link, because conventional medicine separates those
two in very different categories. So there certainly seems to be a link.
Not much is understood about it, but there’s a lot of work going on in the
space for sure.

Katie: That’s so fascinating. I’m really excited. I’m definitely a nerd at
heart, and I love reading medical journals, so I’m excited to see more
about this. Hopefully that’ll be coming out. So, since I’m a mom, and I
think a lot of the listeners are, I definitely have a focus on babies and
children. And I know that from my research, at least with gut bacteria,
that it develops typically like, very early in life. They think maybe even in
utero, potentially that there could be seeding for that. But we know for
sure during like the birthing process, is the skin microbiome the same,
and how does that microbiome develop?

Jasmina: Yeah. What research is showing is that in the first two years of
a child’s life is when much of its immune system is built up. And the
microbiome very likely plays a key role in that. And, you know, one of the
things that you were talking about earlier about kids crawling on the dirt,
and putting things in their mouth, you know, if you look at why they
evolved that behavior I think is a really interesting question. It, you know,
potentially is a mechanism for the immune system to start to build itself.
So those first two years are pretty critical, and everything…That immune
system and that microbiome is built effectively through the child’s
exposure to its environment. And certainly, it starts very early on, just
like in the birthing process, like you were saying, and there are some
people doing interesting work there, where if a child is born via Csection,
they still are able to take a swab from the mother’s birth canal,
and kind of wipe it and put it on the child as a way to kind of seed the
child’s microbiome, both the skin and the gut, but that’s only the early,
early process. Certainly the child being outdoors and interacting and
immersing itself in an environment that has a very diverse ecosystem, a
lot of researchers are saying that that’s a critical thing to do. But our
lifestyles have evolved so far away from that, if you think about how we
live. You know, even 50 years ago, the generation before us, we played
outside a whole lot more, and we interacted with the outdoors a whole
lot more, but now, you know, a child wakes up, is put in a car, is driven to
school, and then goes right back in the car, typically with very little
exposure to the outdoors, comes home, and then is bathed with harsh
surfactants, right, even though the child didn’t theoretically get truly dirty
in the way that it would kinda be defined by the medical community. So,
you know, the lack of exposure to the environment, plus the constant
sterility, which you were…the sterilizing or the cleanliness, which you
were referring to before, has stunted and greatly impacted this evolution
in the first few years of their life of their microbiome, and potentially
we’re seeing the effects on the immune system as well.

Katie: Yeah, it really is kinda wild, and I love that you mentioned about
the birthing process, because I’m a doula, and I’ve actually done that,
facilitated that at a couple of births that ended up being C-Sections, and
the mom knew going in, in one of the cases, that it was gonna be a
potential for a C-Section. And so she had pre-swabbed before getting
antibiotics, so before being in the hospital, and was able to seed her
baby that way. Which is funny, because you get a kind of…a mixed
reaction from the medical community. A lot of doctors seem to think it’s
gross, which I always just laugh, because I’m like used to..you know
how birth happens. How is that any grosser?

Jasmina: Yeah. Yeah.

Katie: But I love that, and I think that’s a good reminder to all moms, like
you said, of how much less a lot of kids are getting outside these days.
And I remember my grandparents talk about it so much. They played
outside in the dirt, they climbed trees, they came in filthy, they gardened.
They did so many things which gave them exposure to a wider variety of
bacteria. So with that understanding, and with the research that we have
available, what does it actually mean to have a healthy skin
microbiome? Like, what kind of bacteria are we talking about there, and
how many different kinds, and how does that interact?

Jasmina: Yeah, you’re asking a really good question, and one that a lot
of people are trying to understand right now. A lot of microbiome
research is trying to answer the question of, you know, what does a
healthy microbial profile look like? And because of just the sheer
complexity of all of the different types of bacteria that we have, and the
complexity of the human body, and how much this microbiome evolves
over time, and how easily influenced it is by the environment, and also
how disconnected we’ve become from…how much of an impact really
modern living has had, it’s really difficult for us to figure out what that
baseline is. So we don’t know, is the question. And the same goes for
the skin as in the gut, it’s actually one of the same commonalities, to
kind of tie it back to what we were talking about earlier. In the gut,
people wanna understand what that healthy profile looks like. Same
thing as for the skin, and we’re having a really difficult time doing it, just
because of how far away…how many things have impacted it, how
complex those systems are. But hopefully, one day we will.

AOBiome is approaching it in kind of a different direction. Instead of
starting with kind of the big data perception of it, AOBiome is actually
just starting with one type of bacteria, really focusing on understanding
how this bacteria works, and the role that it plays in the skin’s
ecosystem, and then really measuring what its impact is. And you you
talked about it earlier, the ammonia oxidizing bacteria is a soil bacteria,
so it comes from the dirt. So if you were walking barefoot or kind playing
outside, it is very likely that you would expose yourself to it naturally.
Human beings likely had this bacteria and lost it in the last 50 to 100
years or so, because it is so sensitive to surfactants, and because we
don’t interact with dirt as much as we used to. So we’re taking a little bit
of a different approach, and we believe that by following this approach,
we can kind of at least focus on the areas where we can make
improvements or make an impact.

Katie: Yeah, I love that it gives a whole new meaning to the idea of good
clean dirt, as…you hear that saying.

Jasmina: Right, right. Yeah, I mean this idea of clean, we talk about this
internally, you know, we’ve confused clean with sterile, and we believed
that by, you know, being quote-unquote clean, effectively killing 99.9% of
bacteria, that we would be healthy. And I think the reason so many
people are starting to look in a different direction, and people feel like
the conversation you and I are having now is starting to grow and gain
momentum, is because people feel like they have been doing the right
things. They have been cleaning, they have been using, you know, the
antibacterial hand sanitizers, they have been following what
conventional wisdom has told them, and you know, we haven’t ended up
where we’ve expected. So it’s made people I think take a step back, and
wonder what piece in all of this we’ve missed.

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. I think you hit the nail on the head with that one,
and I think that this is gonna be a really big emerging area, especially
because we have all these products in our society that do, they’re said
to kill 99.9% of bacteria, and there seems to be this pervasive attitude,
at least in the last few decades, that bacteria is bad, and most people
have a negative association when you say “bacteria.” But really, like
from what you’re saying and from what I’ve read, if you’re looking at the
biome as a whole, whether it’s the gut biome or the skin, we have
trillions of bacteria, and a lot of them are actually very, very good and
necessary, so I think that’s an amazing and important conversation that’s

Jasmina: Yeah, and here’s…this statistic when I found it out blew my
mind, that as we started to understand the gut microbiome, that we
realized how many bacteria there were, and that we didn’t know what
almost 80% of them did, and that we had still kind of culpritized them.
We had still assumed that, you know, okay, we don’t even know what
they do, but we’re gonna assume that they’re bad. And the gut
microbiome has really forced us to reevaluate that, and I think that that’s
astounding that, you know, we understand maybe what 15% of them do.
Single-digit percentages we know are bad. The rest of them, we kind of
understand, and they don’t really seem to be good or bad, and then the
rest of them, we don’t know. So we really let you know these single-digit
percentages form our entire assumption of what bacteria is. And not only
that, but entire industries were built around this idea that bacteria is bad.
And you know, this has now had a serious impact, and kind of being reevaluated
with the gut microbiome, and that certainly has opened the
door for the work that we’re doing, because people are starting to
become much more intrigued, much more open to this idea. But the
cosmetics industry, I mean every product that sits on a store shelf has to
have a preservative in it, because the whole industry is built around this
idea that bacteria is bad, and putting a preservative in there prevents
any bacteria from growing. And thinking about slathering and lathering
all of those products on our skin multiple times a day over the course of
a lifetime certainly has an impact.

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s so important what you said about
we’re really basing our entire perception based on those single-digit
cases. And certainly, there are bacteria that are very dangerous, but like,
we’re finding there are some that are really, really important as well, and
especially some of the research showing about how the interaction of
bacteria even on your genes, like it can literally impact your body at such
a base level. And I think we also are seeing the shift in society like you
said, with, recently I’ve been reading about how triclosan is now banned,
which is an antibacterial ingredient. And people are seeming to start to
wake up to maybe we shouldn’t be just washing our hands with
antibacterial soap every time we wash our hands.

Jasmina: Yeah. Yeah, our chief medical officer Larry makes a really
good point here, which is that, you know, many of these kind of ideas
start off in the medical community. So antibacterial hand soaps started
off really in hospitals, and for good reason, you know, that is certainly an
environment where we still very much need that. But, you know, that
ended up trickling over into the consumer space, and there was never a
point in time where we stopped and asked whether or not it was
necessary in the consumer space, and if it was, what the ramifications
would be. So triclosan is a really interesting case, because there were
also environmental implications, because literally our water treatment
facilities weren’t prepared for the buildup of triclosan that ended up
happening, and that had an impact on things. And so, you know, if you
look at the history of how these things end up happening, it’s really
interesting to observe, because the intentions are always good, they’re
just typically based off of not the full picture.

Katie: Yeah, exactly. So we’ve talked a lot about all the problems and the
research. Let’s shift focus a little bit. A lot of the people listening are
moms, and are raising the next generation, so are there
anything…practical steps that we can do that help create a healthy
biome on our skin for ourselves and our families?

Jasmina: Yeah. For kids, I think particularly in the school setting, or in a
group setting, I know that it’s always really important for kids to wash
their hands, and, you know, hand hygiene is still a really important part
of this. Lots of studies show that plain soap and water is just as good
as…is actually better than antibacterial products. So if you are able to
just take out those antibacterial products completely, I think that there’s a
lot of benefit to be gained there alone in just using plain soap and water.
There is convenience in like, antibacterial hand sanitizers, but, perhaps
as a simple replacement for that, going to simple wet wipes that don’t
have any sort of antibacterial properties, those are really easy to use,
and kind of quick and fast with kids and their hands, so that they can
kind of be on their way, doing the next thing, and there isn’t that much
kind of effort that’s needed in having them wash their hands and dry
their hands and things like that. So wet wipes I think is a really great tip.
The other aspects revolve around bath time. Really evaluating when a
kid is truly dirty and needs to be lathered up head to toe, or if there are
times where plain water will do during bath time, and maybe just
lathering up on key areas, you know, just evaluating this whole…the
whole need for truly lathering up head to toe. Diluting any soaps that
you’re using, if and when you can. Really understanding preservatives
or preservative-free products. All of our biome-friendly products don’t
contain preservatives, just because we know the effect that it has on the
skin microbiome. So I think that that’s an easy class of ingredients to
look at, too.

Katie: Yeah, that’s awesome. I think, actually you brought up a point
that’s kind of been a point of argument with my mother-in-law over the
years, because she’s a nurse, and she grew up in the idea of you bathe
every single night, lots of soap, scrub everything, get super, super clean,
and with our kids, like when they’re dirty and they truly need it, we
obviously do, but I don’t think that like every single night is necessarily

Jasmina: Yeah.

Katie: …the time for that, and she and I have butted heads more than
once over how often the kids need to be scrubbed down with soap when
she’s babysat, so…

Jasmina: I understand.

Katie: So, the cool thing, the reason I wanted to have you on to talk
about this, is besides the fact that you’re obviously an expert with your
background, is that you have this amazing company called Mother Dirt,
and I’ve been trying out your products now for a few months, and the
whole focus of this is supporting skin health and supporting the skin
biome. So, can you talk about the different products you have, and how
they interact with the skin biome and help to improve skin?

Jasmina: Sure, sure. Mother Dirt is the consumer-facing side of
AOBiome, so we already talked about the work that they’re doing and
how it’s based off of this one key bacteria called ammonia oxidizing
bacteria. And the core product for us is the AO+ Mist, and this contains
that live bacteria that you can spray on your skin. The reason we believe
this bacteria is really important is because it is often called the
peacekeeper for the skin, and also in nature, it plays a really crucial role
in nature, so much so that if you were to remove it from the soil,
whatever ecosystem is there will start to struggle, and probably wilt
away. So think about a potted plant. This bacteria exists in that soil in
there. If you were to somehow magically remove it, your plant would
eventually die. That’s how critical this bacteria is to living ecosystems.
And as we study it, it also has a similar peacekeeper effect. And it does
it by the following. When we sweat, and we’ve been taught that our
sweat is a bad thing, that sweat contains what’s called ammonia. And
ammonia is actually the part that is irritating to our skin, and the whole
reason sweat got a bad reputation. Ammonia is also what causes diaper
rash for little babies. So their bums get sweaty under the diaper, and the
buildup of that can cause the irritation that ends up becoming diaper
rash. So ammonia is really what creates the bad rap for sweat.

This bacteria consumes that ammonia. So it removes it from the surface
of your skin, and by doing that, it brings the pH of the skin down to a
normal…typically associated with healthy skin. And it converts it into
beneficial byproducts that your skin can then use. So it keeps the cycle
going of taking the waste, converting it back into good things your skin
can use, that your skin then turns back into waste, and it keeps that
cycle going. And essentially what we see happening is that we’re
restoring the skin to a state where it is better able to take care of itself.
So the idea is that many of these personal care products have kind of
interfered with the natural process and system that our skin has evolved
to have over time, and that by restoring this peacekeeper, that it’s kind of
building a bridge back to how our skin behaved and was able to function

And much of our premise is actually simplifying things, and really
restoring balance in a way that is much simpler and much more aligned
with how the body was really meant to function. So what people notice is
that their skin not only looks better, feels better, but they also very
quickly notice that they no longer need some of the products that they
were using before. So that’s the core product that we have. And then we
have supporting products that don’t contain the bacteria, but are meant
to be easy swaps, so that people can have a biome-friendly routine. So
in there, we have a cleanser that you can use on your face and on your
body, a shampoo, and also a moisturizer. So that way you can kind of
build out the daily essentials, and make sure that it’s helping your skin’s
ecosystems stay nice and balanced.

Katie: Yeah, I love that. And to go back to one of the things you said, so
you said that the ammonia oxidizing bacteria actually feeds off the
ammonia in your sweat, which I know some people like, that have
sweating that makes them itch, that’s probably actually the ammonia,

Jasmina: Yeah, yeah.

Katie: …that’s causing that? So in that sense, is the ammonia in your
sweat kind of almost like a prebiotic, that the probiotic, the bacteria
feeds off of?

Jasmina: You can certainly call it that, based on how we’ve like defined
what a prebiotic typically is. If the bacteria’s feeding off it, definitely it is a
prebiotic. If you have no bacteria to consume it, and the ammonia just
sits on your skin, then, you know, your skin will probably not be too
happy with that much buildup of ammonia. So yeah, looking at it as a
prebiotic is an interesting way to look at it.

Katie: That’s wonderful, and yet another reason why it’s so good to
sweat and work out and…

Jasmine: Totally.

Katie: …I would assume that that would be from like exercise, or could a
sauna generating sweat do the same thing?

Jasmina: Definitely. And we’re actually sweating all day, every day, even
if you don’t feel it. The bacteria don’t need much to activate, but anything
that triggers sweating. We have a ton of people that put the mist in their
gym bag, and they love it. Or, before bed. So people typically sweat
more in the evenings, so that’s a great time to spray head to toe. But
yeah, definitely those are all fair game.

Katie: Very cool. So can you just briefly explain how, like the mist, and
how the products work, so people can kinda get an idea of what a
healthy skin routine would look like?

Jasmina: Sure. So, the cleanser and the shampoo and the moisturizer,
you use just like any other cleanser or shampoo or moisturizer. They’re
really lovely products, really easy to use on their own. We do have some
people that might feel that the bacteria is too much of a leap for them,
but they still really love the biome-friendly products, and they notice a
difference on their own, but, to give you a basic sense of what a routine
looks like, if you shower in the morning, you’ll shower, use this cleanser
as a basic soap. If you’re washing your hair, you would use this
shampoo as…to lather up. It does lather. It feels really great. If you use a
conditioner, you can definitely use your own conditioner, just using it
away from the roots. You get out of the shower, you dry off your skin,
and then you just spray the mist. We recommend focusing on sweatprone areas,
for all the reasons that we talked about earlier. So your
face, your underarms, your hands, your feet. Even great to use on the
private area. And that’s pretty much it. If you are…If you have other
aspects of your routine, so the face can sometimes be tricky, particularly
for women who are meticulous about an SPF or makeup, feel free to put
any of those on, and then just use the mist as the very, very last step in
the routine. And that’s basically it. You can respray throughout the day if
you want. In the evening, you can respray before you go to bed, but
that’s essentially how it would go.

Katie: Yeah, I was actually surprised, because I’ve been making my own
beauty products and just household products for years, and so I would
think probably the majority of them would be relatively biome-friendly,
because I’m not using any harsh preservatives, or that kind of thing, but
I was surprised just how easy it is now, like I just have to pack two
products when I travel, and plus the mist, and it’s very easy to do, and I
also feel like I noticed differences in my skin tone pretty quickly after
using it. What’s kind of the average response that you guys see with
people, and is it pretty quick like that?

Jasmina: Yeah, all the studies that we’ve done have had people noticing
results within two weeks. So it’s been pretty rapid, and the really cool
thing is people also notice the changes with time. So, for example,
people in the beginning might be using maybe a little bit more mist for
example, and then they feel like their skin gets to a really good point,
and then they find that they can just use a little bit less in order to
maintain the results. And the reason for this is a little bit kinda crazy to
talk about, because you never think of your personal care products this
way, but this is literally the first living personal care brand. Once you get
a culture growing on your skin, and it’s kind of healthy and functioning
and existing on its own, you’re really good to go. All you’re really
focusing on is maintaining.

And it’s really interesting to think about taking care of your body in that
sort of a way, where it’s much more symbiotic, versus kind of how we’re
typically told. And you know, I’ll also say that the personal care industry
has had this natural products movement that has really dominated the
last several years, and has come to a head over the last 10 years, and
it’s been such a tremendous step in the right direction. We’ve been
having the conversation of how do we make healthier products for quite
a while now. And what we like to talk about however, is, you know, why
are we using so many products to begin with? You know, it’s a slightly
different conversation to be having, and making sure that our products
are healthy and formulated ethically and in a way that we understand
how it impacts our skin and our environment is really important. But also,
really incorporating what is necessary versus excess.

Katie: Absolutely. I’m a hundred percent with you on that. One question I
know some people may have, is there any kind of transition period when
switching to these products? Because I know, I was already using homemade products,
and like a lot of liquid castile soap, and things that had a
transition period themselves when I switched from the really harsh
detergent shampoo and that kind of thing. Have you guys, do you have
people who have an experience with the transition period where their
skin or their hair kind of doesn’t like, it but then it passes if they keep
using it?

Jasmina: I would say it depends, maybe. I know for me personally, I
went cold turkey in dropping my very elaborate facial skin care routine,
and I kind of just abandoned everything I did. Just the cleanser, and no
moisturizer. And the no moisturizer aspect was the thing that freaked me
out the most. But you know, maybe for three days, my skin felt like it was
missing moisturizer, but then after those three days, I turned a corner,
and I’ve never looked back. But even in those three days, my skin wasn’t
peeling, it wasn’t flaky, so it was just something that I noticed but that no
one else would have. On the deodorant side, about 60% of our users
are able to stop using deodorant. Most of them have no transition period
whatsoever. And there are easy ways that you can experiment with that,
and if people are interested, they can certainly contact us for it. But I
would say in most cases, no, because it is, with everyone’s microbiome
being unique, you’ll have to pay attention to your body and experiment
and tweak from there. But yeah, by and large, it’s supposed to be a
really easy transition, and an easy routine to get into.

Katie: That’s great. And I love that you guys are kind of pioneering, like
you said, this whole movement of not just different skincare products,
but like rethinking the whole skincare process, and what we need and
what we don’t, and how that can be a very easy transition, like we’ve
talked about before for some people. And for kids, that may be as simple
as just letting them play outside more and not scrubbing them down, but
then for those of us who have gotten to this point in our life, and maybe
have already kind of stifled our ammonia oxidizing bacteria, there’s a
way to help our skin recover, which is amazing.

Jasmina: Totally.

Katie: So I really love that you guys are doing all this research, and I’ll
make sure I link to both Mother Dirt, so people can check out the
products, and also to the research side, which I personally find super

Jasmina: Sure.

Katie: So I’ll link to both.

Jasmina: Thanks, Katie.

Katie: So, based on…Before we end, I’d love to hear kind of what you
see as the future of our understanding of the skin microbiome. Are there
areas of research that you hope that we’ll see more in the future, or that
you think that we’re already doing research, or what do you see as
maybe the 10 years from now our understanding of the skin bacteria?
What would your hopes be for that?

Jasmina: I hope that within 10 years’ time, instead of having treatments
like Accutane and topical corticosteroids for things like acne and
eczema, I hope that we have living products for people to try that are
being prescribed by their dermatologists, that have little to no side
effects. That would be my dream, and I know that it’s something that we
are very passionate about here at AOBiome overall. I think that that’s the
direction that the field is going in. We need to make sure that we get to
the point where the science and the clinical data is really validating that.
But there’s a lot of interesting work going on in the space by ourselves
and other individuals, so that I think would be definitely our kind of
mission and dream, and what we think will happen in 10 years.
On the more cosmetic side, you know, I would really like to see the skin
microbiome introduced as a criteria for formulation. So what I mean by
that is this whole, you know, wonderful, creative, fascinating, aggressive
industry has been able to come so far with different formulation
innovations. They’ve been able to formulate products based on texture,
they’ve been able to formulate products for their efficacy, there’s been all
sorts of amazing innovation that has really enabled natural products to
become much more of a reality to introduce into people’s lives. So
there’s innovation going in the right directions for these different types of
criteria, but the skin microbiome has never existed as a criteria, simply
asking the question of, “Okay, if we apply this to someone’s skin, what
impact will it have on that living ecosystem?” And hopefully, we can start
introduce elements of that through our biome-friendly line of products,
and continuing to expand the collective industry, understanding around
what impacts the biome and how we can keep it as stable and hopefully
healthy as possible.

Katie: That’s amazing. I share your hope for that, absolutely. So, any
parting words of encouragement that you would leave for listeners,
especially moms, just kind of like practical things they can start doing
today with their families to kind of nurture this bacteria and to stop killing

Jasmina: Yeah, I think we already covered some really great ones. So,
you know, antibacterials in the household are not truly, truly necessary.
So, plain soap and water is really plenty. I think just reevaluating how
much soap, and how often the full body lather down happens with the
children. Encouraging kids to spend time outside I think is a great one,
and adults as well. It’s really important to spend some time out in nature.
It’s really important for us, too. You know, wet wipes, when you need
things on the go, instead of a hand sanitizer.
I think those are really basic ones, but, you kn
ow, thinking more
powerfully, those things being implemented into our day-to-day, if they’re
useful tips, I think that’s a great starting point. But also having this
conversation. You know, this is why we started Mother Dirt. It wasn’t
really to build revenue for the business, it was because we believed it
was such an important shift in public health, and we wanted this vehicle
to have this conversation, just like you and I are having them now. And
hopefully, some of your listeners can replicate that in their households or
with their friends, because you get people talking about this, and it is
really interesting. I’ve always found people are fascinated by it, separate
from the products, just because it is…It starts to make a lot of logical
sense, and there are a lot of natural questions that come up.

Katie: Absolutely. And for anyone listening, especially driving, I’ll make
sure I put links to all of that, so people can find it in the show notes. And
also, if it’s easier to remember, you can go to wellnessmama.com/go/dirt
and you’ll be taken to the website to find out more about all this. But
Jasmina, thank you so much for your time. I know that you’re very busy,
and you’re building amazing things, and I appreciate your time and
being here to share with us.

Jasmina: Thanks, Katie. This is really great. I really enjoyed chatting
with you.

Katie: Thanks so much.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the
Healthy Moms Podcast. To get the bonus from the episode, as well as a
content library of free health resources, join the community at

Read Transcript

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Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


10 responses to “062: Jasmina Aganovic on Good Clean Dirt”

  1. Carol Avatar

    Has anyone used this on Rosacea? I’d like to find help of this awful facial skin problem that Ive been having since March 2018.

  2. Kevin Bennetto Avatar
    Kevin Bennetto

    This is one of the most intelligent conversations on personal health that I have listened to. No pretense, or preaching, and oddly enough is in agreement with my own personal experience. Our bodies are designed to work just fine, if, in balance. All of my children grew up eating dirt, paying in the dirt, being dirty, and healthy.

    Thank You

  3. Julee Avatar

    I love Mother Dirt! I started experimenting with it a couple of months ago, and now I don’t need to use my homemade deodorant any more! I dint ever use it as much as the label states to, and the results are great.

  4. Sheila Avatar

    I’m a big believer in building your immune system through dirt and plain soap and water, and I am a nurse. I only use vinegar to sanitize. The only time you have those nasty superbugs is when things are out of balance. Since I started making my own soap, I don’t need to use moisturizer! I don’t wash everything every time, and I LOVE to be outside when I can. My boys are the same, and they rarely get sick. My youngest is not as health conscious as his older brother, and he and his father do get sick more often than his brother and I, mostly because they insist on commercial products and foods more often., I think. I did use your recipe for elderberry syrup (yum!) and between that and some colloidal silver when symptoms start, we haven’t been sick all year!

  5. Joe Avatar

    I used to get terribly dry, itchy skin every winter. It would even start before the humidity dropped, which got me to wondering if it wasn’t just about the dry humidity levels.
    So, I decided to try a couple of things. This last summer I installed a whole house chlorine removal system. Since chlorine kills bacteria and I have a skin microbiome that is normally populated with thousands of mostly helpful bacteria, this seemed to be a very logical step.
    Also, from research I learned that people all over the world take mud baths from time to time, with no ill effects. Since good, clean dirt is loaded with bacteria, my theory was that they just might provide the missing/disrupted species leading to my dry itchy skin. So, I found some good, clean dirt from a pristine forest that has never seen pesticides, herbicides, etc. and put around four cups in a bath of luke warm water (don’t want to kill anything good here). I soaked for fifteen minutes and very lightly dried off (no rinsing). I went a week before I did a real shower. A few weeks later I did another mud bath.
    I have also switched to a new soap with few added chemicals; a hand made soap from the Amish. I also wash my clothing in Free & Gentle detergent.
    The results have been great. Something happened. There is an amazing difference from earlier winters. I hypothesize that our man made chemicals and additives are affecting our skin microbiomes, thus I’m trying to avoid them as much as I can. Until I can read good clinical studies showing that these chemicals or additives cause no harm to the skin microbiome, I will continue to assume there may be harm, and will avoid them.
    life is better !

    One and a half years ago, I reversed my IBS-D with a home FMT. After a great deal of research I figured out how to avoid the many common mistakes that affect results negatively (there are quite a few). Yes, FMTs work. Re-storing the health and diversity of our gut microbiome can indeed affect our health. One of the biggest challenges of doing a home FMT is finding a suitable donor as the average American has already lost 40% of the diversity of their microbiome, as compared to remote tribes that have never had antibiotics. Want more info, let me know.

    So much of our health gets back to one thing; a healthy microbiome.

    What’s on my list for 2017 ? My seasonal Hay Fever.

    1. Cynthia Avatar

      Hi Katie, I lived in a house with toxic mold, list my two beloved pets to it and every possession I owned. I left the house as soon as I realized it made me I’ll. I’ve been to 19 doctors that don’t believe in it and was on my own (still am) for a cure. I have known for 5 years that FMT’s work. The thing is, If you do it own your own , it must be done correctly or the consequences are huge. This has always been my fear. So, for 5 years, I’ve been homeless, off and on and lived on the edge of sepsis due to the infections it brings. I’d like to know how I can safely do an FMT on my own.

    1. Tracy Avatar

      I would think judicious use would be fine. I keep a tiny bottle of essential oil, aloe, vodka, and vitamin E in my purse. We wipe down carts and our hands when we go to the store. Every time I don’t, we get sick. In my opinion, store germs are different than the dirt outside or around the house.

  6. Mallory Lischer Avatar
    Mallory Lischer

    Hey Katie! I want to say thank you for all the time and research you put into your post and podcasts! I heard you say you’re a doula, I was wondering if you certified? And if you are what program you used?

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