Mary Helen Leonard, author of The Natural Beauty Solution and professionally trained culinary instructor, shares recipes, projects, tips, and stories about living a more natural, handmade, and creative life with her family in Austin, Texas.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Mother Dirt.
I used bacteria-based products to care for my skin and here's what happened.
So by now we have all heard how important probiotics can be to our overall health. We usually think of these kinds of "good bacteria" when it comes to our guts. Including fermented foods like saurkraut, kefir, or kombucha is an easy way to introduce helpful flora into our body.
But do you ever think about promoting helpful bacteria for other parts of your body? Your skin also relies on these kinds of flora to stay healthy. If you've ever suffered from a bout of candida than you know just how unhappy your skin can get when this balance is disrupted.
Like pretty much every other aspect of our lives, the natural biome that your skin maintains can be thrown out of whack by many of the modern conveniences we love so well. Commercially produced cleansers, lotions, and shampoos often include ingredients that can disrupt the skin's natural balance and biome, making it hard for your body to care for itself naturally.
Enter bacteria-based skin care. What a concept! Mother Dirt has formulated a very simple product line (just one head-to-toe cleanser, a shampoo, and a mist) that revolves around promoting the skin's natural biome. The method here is to cleanse your skin and hair using simple products that won't disrupt the natural bacteria on your skin and scalp, and then supplementing that bacteria with a twice-daily mist.
In addition to helping nurture a healthy skin biome, Mother Dirt products are intended to help users reduce their dependence on other supplemental products such as toners, moisturizers, and serums. The company argues that too many natural resources are wasted in the production and use of unnecessary beauty products.
I couldn't agree more on the virtues of simplifying one's personal care routine. After a quick glance at the ingredient list I was happy to try out Mother Dirt's product line. When my samples arrived I got started right away.
I was curious to see if the claims and experiences I read about in the company's brochure would hold true for my skin as well. The testimonials on Mother Dirt's web site report improvements in softness, texture, pore size - you name it.
How It Works
Mother Dirt pairs two simple cleansers, a head-to-toe foaming wash and a shampoo, with a face and body mist fortified with skin-loving bacteria.
Mother Dirt Cleanser is used to wash your face and body. It contains no bacteria, but is formulated to cleanse gently without disrupting the skin's natural biome.
Mother Dirt Shampoo is used to wash hair. Like the cleanser, this is a gentle cleanser that helps support your scalp's biome and natural balance.
Mother Dirt AO+ Mist is used after cleansing. This is the product that contains helpful bacteria. Spritz twice daily on your face, scalp, and all over the body. It's particularly helpful in battling bacteria in the sweatier regions of the body. (Think armpits!)
What I've Noticed
I've been using the cleanser once a day, the shampoo twice a week, and the mist twice a day for the past week. While my skin didn't transform overnight, I have noticed an improvement in overall wellness.
I have noticed some shrinkage in my pores, which is pretty encouraging since this is an area where I've been struggling with my skin for some time. I'm planning to give myself a charcoal masque this weekend to see if I can help the process along further.
Summer also has a tendency to send my skin's oil production into overload. Since I started the Mother Dirt products this has mellowed out quite a bit. My skin doesn't feel overly dry either, but I do wonder whether or not the spray will be enough when the weather cools off and starts drying me out. Will I need to add a moisturizer to the routine? We'll have to wait and see. For now, the balance feels just right.
This might be a little TMI, but obviously Texas summers are incredibly hot and sweaty. The brochure for Mother Dirt suggested spritzing sweaty spots of the body with the AO+ Mist to help manage bacteria that can cause body odor.
Since my favorite deodorants use essential oils and carrier oils to battle stinky bacteria, I was very curious to see whether or not these products would work, and they did! I noticed a difference right away.
After my first shower with the cleanser and body spray with the AO+ Mist I noticed a difference in my (ahem) personal funk factor.
What's Not to Like?
The only real gap I see in the 3-piece product line is the lack of exfoliation. After about a week of using the Mother Dirt products I can tell that I'll still need to use a scrub or exfoliating mask to occasionally lift dead skin.
This may not be the case for everyone, but personally, I need a good scrub now and then! I can also foresee the need for periodic moisturizing with my usual favorites, raw shea butter or rose hip seed oil.
Overall, I'm going to give bacteria-based skin care a big thumbs up. I look forward to continuing with these products to see how my skin reacts to a long term routine.
Ready to Try it for Yourself?
You can learn more about bacteria-based skin care and shop for Mother Dirt products at MotherDirt.com.
If you've already tried Mother Dirt, I'd love to hear about your experiences with bacteria-based skin care. Share your story in the comments below!
Coconuts are pretty marvelous. They can hydrate us with their water, nourish and balance the skin with their oil, and even feed us with their meat. If you think about it, coconuts are sort of like the buffalo of natural skin care. We can use just about every part. Even the hull can be dried and ground for use as an exfoliating scrub.
This simple recipe combines the ever versatile coconut with a few drops of rose essential oil, a legendary ingredient for natural skin care. Rose can help balance the skin and is well-loved for nurturing mature skin. When combined with the hydrating, but slightly astringent properties of coconut water you get a masque that offers a gentle dose of moisture without going overboard.
I don't know about you, but my skin tends to feel a little more oily than usual during summer months. That extra oil combined with sweat and grime from even the shortest outdoor jaunt can leave my skin itchy, red, and irritated. Giving it a nice healthy cleanse can really help get it back to feeling happy and refreshed. Coconut flour can also act as a gentle exfoliant - another property that can come in handy while caring for rough summer skin.
As usual, follow this masque with a toner (I love this one) whenever you can. A moisturizer is only necessary if you feel like your skin was over-dryed at all by the coconut oil. If you aren't sure whether or not to use one, just let your skin dry for a few minutes before making up your mind. If it feels soft and happy, you probably don't need one. If it feels tight or itchy, give yourself a little splash of something nourishing like your favorite cream or a few drops of rose hip seed oil. If you use this masque during the day be sure to apply a fresh coat of spf before going outside!
Mi the coconut flour, coconut oil, essential oil, and 2 teaspoons of coconut water together in a small bowl. Stir well, then add additional coconut water, if needed, to reach a thick, smooth texture, similar to cookie dough.
Apply the masque liberally to clean, moistened skin. Allow the masque to set and dry for up to thirty minutes before rinsing. To use as a scrub, massage the masque in a slow, circular motion as it is rinsed away. Follow with toner. Follow with moisturizer if needed. Refrigerate any leftover masque for up to five days.
Hubby and I were both endowed with very thick heads of hair. For the most part, I'd say that my dense tresses are a blessing. After working in the natural beauty industry for over a decade I have met enough people on the opposite end of the spectrum to know that having too much hair is a much easier problem to solve than having too little. So I'm grateful, and I know my husband is grateful, for all of this crazy hair we have between us.
But there are times when having thick hair is kind of a pain. Keeping a healthy and happy scalp beneath a head of long, dense hair can be challenging - especially for people like my husband who have over-productive scalps. He has a touch of psoriasis too - which complicates things even further. The battle against dandruff is constant. The danger of build-up and damaged hair is around every corner, and itchy, dry scalp conditions are constantly a problem.
A natural beauty author's husband with serious scalp problems? No, sir. It just won't do. My mission to help soothe his head is not only a labor of love but also a matter of pride. I can't have my loved ones walking around all flaky. What will people think?
So, I invented this recipe to help both of us get our irritated scalps back to their happy place. I started off with a big chunk of manuka honey, a unique variety of raw honey that is believed to contain antibacterial properties. Honey is also a natural moisturizer so it's perfect for soothing cranky scalps.
I blended that marvelous manna with half a banana, a squirt of apple cider vinegar, and a splash of moisturizing apricot oil. These ingredients are meant to soothe, balance, and moisturize. If you're scalp is troubled try giving this recipe a try for a few nights and see if it makes any difference. We both loved it and I hope you will too!
Manuka Honey Scalp Masque Makes about 1/4 cup (enough for one use)
This sweet and sticky scalp masque calls for manuka honey - an exotic variety of honey that is prized in the health food community. If you don't have manuka honey available, just use any variety of honey you have on hand. Apricot oil is a favorite of mine for hair care - but jojoba, avocado oil, or sweet almond oil would also do very well in this recipe.