The Unexpected Ingredient Your Skincare Routine is Missing

By H&W on 1st Nov 2018
We recently had the privilege of interviewing Jasmina Aganovic (pictured), the founder of Mother Dirt. Mother Dirt is a skincare brand that focuses on restoring and maintaining the good bacteria naturally found on our skin.

Have you ever considered the fact that your skin care routine might actually be doing more harm than good?

The truth is, bacteria can actually be [really] good for our skin! And you don’t need as many products as you most likely have to achieve great skin, either. Less is more when it comes to Mother Dirt, and we definitely see why.

“In the beauty industry, bacteria is the culprit for many things, sometimes rightly so, but what science is showing is that we might have a new way to view it,” Jasmina says.

Mother Dirt’s patented AO + Mist is the only product on the market that contains live bacteria — good bacteria that once lived on our skin, but was removed by modern chemistry and lifestyles. While the idea of spraying bacteria on the skin may be a novelty to beauty junkies, Jasmina’s wealth of science and beauty expertise speaks beyond cosmetics.

Read about the Mother Dirt mission and get to know Jasmina below!

Jasmina, tell us about yourself!

Happy to! I’m the president of Mother Dirt, a line of biome-friendly personal care products focused on restoring and maintaining the good bacteria naturally found on our skin. We launched just over three years ago.

I went to MIT and graduated with a degree in chemical and biological engineering. Since then, I’ve worked in several entrepreneurial roles building cosmetics and consumer goods. I’ve always enjoyed taking highly innovative or technical concepts and figuring out how to translate them into brands and products that has the opportunity to resonate more broadly with consumers. I’ve spent time at companies like LVMH, Fresh and Living Proof, before finally launching Mother Dirt.

What are Mother Dirt products? What sets them apart?

Mother Dirt is the first-ever biome-friendly product line that proactively restores and preserves the good bacteria naturally found on our skin. Through our products we hope to challenge people on what it really means to be clean and healthy.

The AO+ Mist is our core product, and contains a live culture of Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB). AOB are a type of live microbe that come from the soil and once lived on human skin up until we cleaned it away with modern chemistry and lifestyles. With continued use, the AO+ Mist improves the texture and appearance of many common skin issues, including sensitivity, blotchiness, roughness, oiliness, dryness and odor, by restoring this essential bacteria. It’s a different way to approach skin care that goes against much of what we have conventionally been told.

Other products in our line include the Face & Body Cleanser, Shampoo, and Moisturizer, each of which are formulated as easy swaps for conventional products in our routine – They don’t have a live culture in them, but they are formulated specifically to be friendly to the ecosystem of the skin. All of our products are un-preserved, family-friendly, plant-based and certified for compatibility with the skin’s natural microbiome.

What is the skin biome? What classifies as “Biome-Friendly?

The skin biome is the ecosystem of microorganisms that live on the skin. Research is showing that they potentially play a crucial role in how our skin looks and feels, and potentially more. By over-cleaning it, or exposing it to too much chemistry, we could be destabilizing it, leaving our skin more susceptible to issues in the short and long term.

Biome-friendly refers to a screening, formulation, and manufacturing process that we have developed internally, and will continue to build on as our understanding grows. It means that a product has been screened and tested for its compatibility with the most sensitive beneficial microbes of the skin. This is important because we believe that restoring good bacteria is just as important as making sure the products we use don’t keep harming them.


What’s the story behind “Mother Dirt“?

In 2014, New York Times reporter Julia Scott was part of a study that tested a living bacterial skin tonic, developed by our clinical research partner AOBiome. Her subsequent article, documenting her positive experience with beneficial bacteria, created an overwhelming demand for the product. A year later, Mother Dirt was launched as a vehicle for conversation with the public around the importance of bacteria in how our skin looks and feels.

Who is your ideal customer?

Anyone with skin is an ideal consumer! Our current customers are 40% men, 60% women. We find that people who embrace the ‘less is more’ philosophy, and those who steer toward green chemistry and green beauty, like the idea of good bacteria for the skin and enjoy using our products. They see it as a healthy part of their daily routine.

What would you say to a potential customer who might find the idea of spraying bacteria on their face gross?

Totally understandable and we don’t expect everyone to be ready for this right now. We know using a live-spray-on bacteria is really a different way of taking care of your skin, and it goes against much of what we have conventionally been told. But once people make the connection between how you need good bacteria to keep your gut healthy and balanced, they can understand how the same applies to your skin. AOB used to be a naturally occurring bacteria on our skin up until a century ago, but harsh chemicals and less time spent outdoors wiped it away. We’re just helping you put back what was once already there, and still exists everywhere in nature where living things thrive. You come in contact with AOB when you’re digging through rich soil, or swimming in a lake!

Do your products expire?

Yes! Our products will most likely always have a shelf life because they’re un-preserved, which is one of the traits that makes them biome-friendly. (Preservatives are antibacterials, and our goal is to keep the bacteria alive.) That’s not to say that somewhere down the road we may discover a way to preserve our products without anti-bacterials, in fact, that would be incredible. We’re constantly working to do what we do better, and since we’ve launched our products, we’ve improved our shampoo and cleanser formulations to extend their shelf life; the cleanser went from 4 weeks from first use, to 8 weeks, and the shampoo went from 4 weeks from first use, to 6 months!

The AO+ Mist retains its activity level for 4 weeks at room temperature and even longer if kept in the fridge. This cooler temperature puts the AOB in a hibernation mode. They “wake up” when they reach room temperature and soon need food to survive. Their “food” is produced by your skin (the ammonia in your sweat). This means the only way to feed them is to spritz them on your body. If they start to go too long without food, around 4 weeks, they start to die.


What is your best-selling product?

The one that started it all, the AO+ Mist!


Where can we find Mother Dirt products?

You can find our products at Lemon Laine, right here in Nashville! You can also shop online at and on Amazon.


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