Restoring the Skin Microbiome with Jasmina Aganovic of Mother Dirt – EP068

 In Podcast

“Our bodies know how to take care of themselves, and somehow we got disconnected from that. Being able to pave a way back to a ‘native’ state of our skin before we started doing chemistry experiments on it … is very plausible, and it makes a lot of sense to me.”




Jasmina Aganovic is the president of Mother Dirt, a biotech company developing biome-friendly skincare products. The line features AO+ Mist, a first-of-its-kind product containing live Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB), the ‘peace-keeper’ bacteria that has been stripped from the modern microbiome by time spent indoors and contemporary hygiene practices. A cosmetic and consumer goods entrepreneur, Jasmina earned her degree in chemical and biological engineering from MIT.

Today, Jasmina shares the story behind Mother Dirt and the evolving definition of what it means to be clean. She offers insight around anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, the connection between our modern lifestyle and skin issues, and the prevalence of acne and eczema in the US. Jasmina describes the Mother Dirt product line, explaining the diverse benefits of AO+ Mist and what the company is working on now. Listen in for Jasmina’s personal skin care journey and learn how Mother Dirt is using its products to initiate a conversation about the microbial world.

Topics Covered

[1:06] The story behind Mother Dirt

  • Began 15 years ago with study of connection between dirt and mammalian skin
  • Formed company in 2012, research on role of AOB (removed by modern lifestyle)
  • Watershed clinical study in 2014 proved AOB could be reintroduced to skin
[4:23] What it means to be clean

  • Old definition = sterile, removal of all bacteria
  • Changing to reflect balance (bacteria not all bad)
[5:38] Jasmina’s insight on anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizer

  • Washing hands proven to improve health, prevent passage of disease
  • Soap and water just as effective as anti-bacterial hand sanitizer
[8:40] The statistics around acne and eczema in the US

  • 80M people have acne (out of 250M total)
  • #1 consumer of prescription acne medication globally
  • Childhood eczema increased by 30% in last 10 years
[9:44] How lifestyle factors contribute to skin issues

  • Lack of connection to nature contributed to loss of AOB
  • Radical diet change since industrial revolution
[11:28] The Mother Dirt product line

  • AO+ Mist (includes live culture of bacteria from soil)
  • Supporting cleanser, shampoo and moisturizer
[13:09] How AO+ Mist works as a deodorant

  • Bacteria feeds off irritating components in sweat (e.g.: ammonia)
  • Produces beneficial biproducts as result
[17:43] The scientific studies on the benefits of AO+ Mist

  • Proven cosmetically valid by series of double-blind studies
  • Significant improvements in skin clarity, smoothness
  • Decrease in appearance of oily skin (four-week period)
[19:43] Jasmina’s personal skin journey

  • Severe acne as teen and into college
  • 10 years of treatment, elaborate routine
[23:31] Jasmina’s new approach to skin care

  • ‘Less is more’ philosophy
  • Holistic vs. aggressive approach
[25:36] Mother Dirt’s next steps

  • Use products as vehicle for conversation about microbial world
  • Make products available on more channels (i.e.: retail partners)
[27:22] The potential for personalized microbiome treatments

  • Gain understanding of what native microbiome looked like
  • Adjust populations of bacteria without killing all
[29:55] Jasmina’s powerful thought experiment

  • Favorite scenes in nature usually don’t include people
  • Loss of natural inoculation mechanisms from environment

Learn More About Jasmina

Mother Dirt

Jasmina on LinkedIn


Mother Dirt Article in The New York Times Magazine

AOBiome Therapeutics

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