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The Modernization of the Skin Microbiome: What Happened To Our Healthy Bacteria?

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In the past, we believe human skin used to have a natural, thriving microbiome. This ecosystem of healthy bacteria kept our skin clean, smooth, and largely problem free—without the assistance of chemical soaps and shampoos.

Our skin was able to maintain itself this way with the help of Nitrosomonas, a form of Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB). AOB have a specialized purpose: they derive their energy solely from consuming (or oxidizing) ammonia and urea, found in our sweat.

Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria In Nature

Why do we believe this? Because AOB are extremely ubiquitous in nature. They play a crucial role in the nitrogen cycle everywhere on the planet. As a result, anywhere that we find ammonia (even if it is thousands of feet below sea level & has never seen daylight), we will find a form of Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria.

But there is one exception: human skin. It’s the only place that ammonia now exists without AOB. This seems like an incredible outlier. Knowing how sensitive Nitrosomonas and other AOB are to modern soaps and detergents, we can hypothesize that we removed AOBs from human skin in the last 50-75 years with the rapid proliferation of personal care products.

Why does this microorganism matter for our skin care?

When Nitrosomonas consume the ammonia and urea in your sweat, they produce two key byproducts: Nitrite and Nitric Oxide (NO). Both are critical for skin care and general health, as they act as “peacekeepers” for the ecosystem on our skin and help keep it happy and in balance.

In general, we do not want to compromise the diversity of our skin microbiome. Recent research suggests that the activity (and robustness) of these rich microbial communities may help protect our skin and battle infection.

This is why we aim to re-introduce Nitrosomonas to our skin’s microbiome—to restore historic NO levels with natural skin care products like our AO+ Mist as a crucial first step to skin health.

Did you Mist today? ;-)

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