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Is Your Skin Too Clean? Try These Skincare Products with ‘Good Bacteria’

Bacteria can be good!


These days we’re over-scrubbing everything from hands to hair. While great for killing germs, it can create an imbalance in skin’s microbiome, the outer layer of good and bad bacteria that keeps skin healthy and youthful. The surprise? Restoring bacteria to skin will leave you beautiful!

Thinning hair? Pick prebiotics.

Shampoo is meant to cleanse hair, but harsh detergents can strip good bacteria from the scalp, causing irritation that can make hair thin and brittle, says New York City dermatologist Julie Russak, M.D. But a scalp treatment made with prebiotics can help.

When applied to the scalp before shampooing, these compounds “feed” good bacteria, balancing skin on the scalp so hair can get clean without compromising healthy hair growth.

One to try: CurlSmith Super Slip Pre-Biotic Primer (Buy at

Body bothers? Try activated charcoal.

The clarifying body washes we cleanse with can actually deplete beneficial moisture, oil and bacteria from skin. If you find your skin is plagued with dryness or breakouts, switch to a wash infused with activated charcoal. The absorbent “dirty” compound acts like a magnet to pull out bad bacteria and other impurities from pores so they can easily be rinsed away — all without disturbing good bacteria or natural moisture levels.

One to try: Schmidt’s Activated Charcoal Body Wash (Buy at Amazon)

Facial redness? Opt for this spritz.

The abundance of anti-aging products in our skin-care routines has reduced the presence of good bacteria like ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in facial skin, says Dr. Russak. This bacteria, which was commonly found on our ancestors’ skin, serves as a “peacekeeper,” warding off irritation and sensitivity while reducing the inflammation that breaks down skin-firming collagen and elastin.

The good news? Skin’s AOB can be replenished with products containing live, soil-derived AOB cultures. They react with naturally occurring elements in your skin to produce nitrite (a compound that controls bad bacteria) and nitric oxide (a skin-soothing antioxidant). Together, they restore harmony to the microbiome, eliminating the need for countless anti-aging products and thwarting new damage.

One to try: Mother Dirt AO+ Restorative Mist (Buy at

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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