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Cleaned by Microbes

Julia Scott, a writer for the New York Times Magazine, embarked on a month-long endeavor to stop showering and rely on a bacterial skin tonic from AOBiome as a cleanser.

This tonic, Scott writes, contains the ammonia-oxidizing bacteria Nitrosomonas eutropha that that the company that makes it, AOBiome, says likely lived on people's skin until they scrubbed it away with soaps and shampoos. The spray aims to restore the bacteria to the skin microbiome.

During the course of her month-long experiment, Scott has her skin swabbed and tested, and sees changes to her microbial 'garden.' At the beginning, she notes that her skin microbiome was that of a typical American: Propionibacterium, Corynebacterium, and Staphylococcus, along with numerous as-yet-unknown bacteria.

While she notes that her hair became greasy and she became more aware of her body odor — she'd also stopped using deodorant — Scott says that her skin became smoother and softer.

AOBiome currently, she notes, is marketing its spray as a cosmetic, but plan to file an Investigational New Drug Application with the US Food and Drug Administration.

"It's very, very easy to make a quack therapy; to put together a bunch of biological links to convince someone that something's true," Jamie Heywood, the chair of the company's board of directors, tells her. "What would hurt us is trying to sell anything ahead of the data."