Mother Dirt Product Review

I think I first learned about this product on Mark’s Daily Apple:

AO+ Mist

In any case, it’s a novel product.  I’ve talked about the microbiome previously ( and this is like a probiotic for the skin.

This AO+ Mist contains live ammonia-oxidizing bacteria.  The premise is that with our too clean modern lives, we have washed away the naturally-occurring bacteria that we are supposed to have on our skin.  That imbalance leads to things like body odor and acne.

What this product does is restore the good bacteria that we are supposed to have on our bodies.  As a result, it is supposed to eliminate (or reduce) the need for deodorant and other skin products.

Since I do believe in the importance of a healthy microbiome, I decided to give the product a try.  In addition to the AO+ Mist that contains the live bacteria, there is also a shampoo and body wash that are designed to be used with it, which won’t wash off the healthy bacteria.  I got the bundle with all three.  They also have a moisturizer which I didn’t try.

I’m lucky that body odor has never been much of an issue- my husband jokes that I have no detectable scent.  For a while now, I’ve switched to the “natural” deodorants without the aluminum salts.  Brands like Tom’s and Lavanila have worked fine, though they don’t reduce perspiration so you can still get the wet spots on the underarms.

Also, since I was a teenager, Clearasil (benzoyl peroxide) was all I needed to keep acne at bay.  Now that I’m in my 30s, the time I spent in the sun as a youngster is catching up to me, and age spots have appeared.  But Mother Dirt can’t help me with that.

I mainly wanted to try it out of curiosity and to see if it would help my dandruff.  I’ve tried different dandruff shampoos, but the pyrithione zinc (in Head & Shoulders) has worked the best.  But even then, I’d need to wash my hair every other day and by the second day, the dandruff would start to appear again.  I did find that when I was strict Paleo, the dandruff improved, but these days I haven’t been able to keep up with that.  Come to think of it, my skin was clearer when I was eating strict Paleo as well.

I went ahead and purchased the bundle.  They shipped it with an ice pack to keep it temperature-controlled for the live bacteria.  Apparently you don’t want the bacteria to freeze, either, so they do something different for very cold climates.

The instructions say to spray the mist on more sweat-prone areas like the scalp, face, underarms, genitals, and feet.  You spray morning and night, particularly after showering.  And of course in the shower, you want to use the Mother Dirt body wash and shampoo.  The mist is best used after other products like facial moisturizer, sunscreen, etc. have been applied and absorbed into the skin.

So here are my reviews on the products.  And as a reminder, any products I mention on my blog are simply because I think the info might help others.  I’m not a Kardashian, and certainly don’t receive any compensation for mentioning products on social media.  Don’t I wish.

AO+ Mist

My main goal was to see if it would help my dandruff.  The good news is that it did- I had minimal flakes after using the mist regularly.  The problem, though, is that by the second day, my hair would start getting greasy so I’d still need to shampoo every other day.  I suppose if I really wanted to, I could use a dry shampoo to last longer, but that’s not ideal.  For many people, using the mist is supposed to mean using less products overall.

For me, if I could wash my hair every 3 days instead of every other day, it might be worthwhile.  The effort spent drying my hair is significant, so if I could reduce that, it would save me a lot of cumulative time.  But unfortunately the mist didn’t do that for me.  A lot of people don’t need conditioner, but since I have thicker hair I still needed it, and would just apply towards the ends.

I noticed that my face got less oily by the afternoon, so that was nice- less of a need for oil-blotting sheets.  I also noticed that my feet didn’t smell.  Definitely all good things!

So the issue with the live bacteria is that once you start using the mist bottle, it only lasts for 4 weeks.  The instructions said to use 5-7 sprays throughout the body each morning and night.  So I followed those instructions, not wanting to use up the product too quickly.  Well, as I got to the last week, I realized that I had a ton left.  So I started using the spray more freely, spraying more throughout my scalp.  But it still didn’t improve the greasiness on day 2.

Because I had extra at the end, I decided to try it for a couple of days on my son’s butt since he’d been having redness (presumably from the poopy diaper moisture, despite our best efforts to change right away).  It did seem to clear it up, but I didn’t use the spray on him for very long.  They do say it’s safe for babies and kids, but it’s just not practical given how frequently he has diaper changes and therefore gets wiped down.

It’s frustrating that I still had a bunch left after the 4 weeks.  I kept using it, hoping there might be some residual effect of the bacteria.  Seemed to work into week 5, perhaps since I was also still using the Mother Dirt shampoo.


The cleanser can be used on the face and body.  It comes in a small pump that foams, and has a pleasant rose scent.  Unlike the AO+ Mist, it can last two months.  The downside is that with regular use daily in the shower with a loofah and once daily on my face, I started to run low well before one month.  So toward the end of the month, I reverted to using my regular body wash and saved the cleanser to use only on my face.  The cleanser otherwise was like any other body wash/soap.  It lathers up and has the look and feel of a traditional cleanser.  If you wear a lot of makeup, then you’d probably also need something like the MakeUp Eraser cloth to help remove it.


I did this with my dandruff shampoo as well, but given how greasy my hair would get by day 2, I’d end up lathering twice with the shampoo.  The second time, I’d need less pumps since it would suds up more, but I’d probably use 6 pumps total.  So for me, using 6 pumps every 2 days lasted me over a month.  Like the cleanser, it works like any other regular shampoo would, and has a pleasant scent.  Those with thicker hair will probably need to continue using conditioner.

The Pricetag

The good news is that the stuff does work.  The biggest downside is that it is ridiculously expensive.  For your first order, they give you 20% off and free shipping.  But the mist alone normally costs $49, and you need to get one per month.  For someone like me, I could get by with just the AO+ Mist and shampoo, which costs $15.  But if you get the bundle with the mist, shampoo, and cleanser, that’s $69.  If you add the moisturizer, that’s $99 for all 4 products.

Most of that you’d need to purchase each month.  Again, I didn’t try the moisturizer so I don’t know how long that would last.  But based on my experience, you’d need to purchase the cleanser monthly.  And regardless the shampoo and cleanser don’t work longer than two months.  The expiration for the products start once you open them, so you could purchase more bottles in one shipment.  But still, bottom line is that it is very pricey.

I understand that making a product with live bacteria that needs to have temperature-controlled shipping is going to be more expensive than your regular products.  But it is unfortunate that this stuff is prohibitively expensive for the average person.  I mean I make a comfortable salary, and I admit that I like purchasing fancy skin care products from Sephora.  But I still think Mother Dirt is too expensive.

I wish I could recommend a revolutionary product like this to my patients, who often complain of acne and sometimes body odor (after all, the genital area has sweat glands like the underarms).  I read a completely separate medical blurb that mentioned that they now think that finding the right balance of bacteria on the skin rather than just wiping it all out is probably what’s needed to treat acne.  Currently, many of the treatments are antibiotics that kill the bacteria on the skin.  So for people with significant skin and body odor issues, Mother Dirt can be a lifesaver.

But because of the prices, it would not be practical to mention this product to my average patient.  It would only be for patients that had tried everything, that I’d tell them, “Well, there is a product, but it’s VERY expensive…” and then leave it to them to decide if it’s something worth budgeting for.

Mother Dirt has been mentioned in various magazines and the like, so maybe if it becomes more popular, or if competitor brands come out, it could drive the prices down.  For now, the benefits for me weren’t quite impressive enough to keep using the product.