DOES it really matter how often you wash? Some experts believe that the personal-care industry is unnecessarily rinsing the British public of their hard-earned cashed.
To put this to the test, Helen Rumbelow reveals all about what happened when she ditched soap for 10 days…
Here’s one way to find out who your friends are: give up soap and deodorant and ask for help to monitor how bad you smell.
Even my partner refuses: “Is there any hope we can keep the magic alive?” he asks as I attempt to cover his face with my armpit.
But my children, whose love is mammalian and humour is gross-out, comply.
We get into a routine: my arms outstretched as if for a hug, but instead they tuck their little noses into my darkest recesses and snuffle. This feels, somehow, like it once used to.
That’s no coincidence. For I am not just neglecting my personal hygiene, like those earnest people you meet, usually in Stroud, who tell you their bodies are “self-regulating” and you nod and think, “Yeah, but you reek of hamster.”
I am conducting an experiment at the vanguard of dermatological research.
Twice a day I spray on live bacteria. Live bacteria that has been cultivated from soil. I am literally covering myself in dirt to get clean.
It sounds crazy, but is it crazier than, say, our multibillion personal-care industry being an expensive way of killing off the very bacteria that would do a better job?
‘Welcome to the future!’ I say to my family. They say I smell of ‘puddles’.Helen Rumbelow
Day one: I put my trusty deodorant in the bin. I’ve been dependent since I was 12 years old, and to keep it would be too tempting.
Instead I stand in my pants next to the fridge door and spray my pits from a chilled bottle labelled “Mother Dirt”.
It is indistinguishable from water, yet costs £30. “Welcome to the future!” I say to my family. They say I smell of “puddles”.
Like so many great body-odour stories, this began with a first date. It was 14 years ago, and David Whitlock, an American chemical engineer trained at MIT, was out at dinner with a woman who kept horses.
Why, she asked him, did her horses roll in the dirt? He mumbled about rubbing off bugs, but she wasn’t impressed.
The date was going nowhere and Whitlock went back to his lab. Why did so many mammals roll in dirt? It must play an evolutionary role in their health.
He zeroed in on a bacteria found in soil and streams: Nitrosomonas eutropha (known as N eutropha). He scraped some off the floor of a stable in Boston. It feeds on ammonia (which is found in sweat) and turns it into nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide was crowned “molecule of the year” in 1992 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Why? It has a role in alleviating depression, lowering blood pressure and regulating sleep.
But its relevance for Whitlock was that it is an anti-inflammatory. He was excited. Could N eutropha gobble up your stink and turn it into a balm for your body?
He dumped a bucket of the stuff on himself. “I may be crazy,” he likes to say, “but I’m not stupid.”
Whitlock has not had a shower or used soap other than on his hands since. He relies on N eutropha misting.
It is no surprise that primates and remote human tribes have a 40 per cent more diverse skin microbiome than we soap freaks.
However, acne, eczema and psoriasis are also practically unknown in hunter-gatherer humans, while in the west they are sharply on the rise.
Why? Medics used to think we had to get rid of the bacteria causing skin conditions.
Now they have begun to think about reintroducing the bacteria that prevent them. Dermatology journals are fizzing with early success stories.
Richard Gallo at the University of California found that eczema was triggered by a deficiency of a certain strain of bacteria.
It was rectified when he dosed patients with a lotion containing boosted amounts of the live bacteria — a kind of skin-bacteria transplant.
The same goes for acne: we all have acne bacteria on our skin and it is thought that spots flare due to a bacterial battle we little understand.
Day three: it is not a smell that’s the problem, it’s the paranoia. I don’t stink. One spray of the mist seems to convert my funk into a sort of rainy freshness. But I can’t trust this voodoo to keep working.
It’s hard not to keep my arms pinned to my sides, like a 14-year-old in co-ed PE.
I have a jog, a sweaty commute and an interview with Anne Robinson.
We all know we can trust Anne to mention it. Her nose gets close as we say goodbye, but it doesn’t wrinkle a bit.
In the wild, humans would be bathing in muddy water, sitting in soil and enjoying daily inoculations of N eutropha. Whitlock devised a spray to replicate this.
He called it Mother Dirt and founded a company, AO Biome, to set up clinical trials on the N eutrophaspray.
The trials are in phase two with regard to acne and high blood pressure. The spray’s efficacy must be proven before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves it as a medical treatment.
The FDA had to create a category for the live topical.
Meanwhile, the spray is available as a cosmetic product.
Mother Dirt is run by Jasmina Aganovic, a 30-year-old chemical engineer who trained at MIT. She says they shift tens of thousands of mist bottles a year in America and are about to launch it in the UK.
Most customers are aged from 25 to 35, and half, she estimates, are from the “Paleo” community, which tries to replicate ancestral lifestyles.
Yet the other half, she says, are those so at their wits’ end with skin problems that they will try anything. “They’re confused. They’ve done everything they have been told. We seem to be cleaner than ever, yet have more problems than ever.”
There is much talk of the gut microbiome and how it affects obesity and immunity, but no one thinks much about skin, which also teems with bacteria.
The same person who smugly eats yoghurt for her gut has probably slaughtered her skin microbiome 20 times before breakfast.
That’s the problem for Mother Dirt (slogan: “I used to be addicted to soap, I’m clean now”).
Base-level hygiene for most westerners is kryptonite to N eutropha.
Everyone from the company stresses that they wash their hands with soap to stop communicable disease. There is no medical need, however, to soap anywhere above the wrist. Yet we do.
And soap kills N eutropha. So does sodium lauryl sulfate, a lathering ingredient in almost every shampoo and body wash, which is an antimicrobial.
Not only that, but almost every personal-care product, from foundation to moisturiser, contains preservatives. These are designed to stop bacterial growth.
As for deodorant, Aganovic says they have never found a “biome-friendly” one. Put like that, my bathroom cabinet seems to be crammed with the cosmetic equivalent of junk food.
We should think about our skin biome as an unexplored rainforest. There is an utterly serious scientific endeavour called Belly Button Biodiversity in which scientists swabbed 500 navels and found 2,368 different bacterial species.
It estimated that more than half were new to science. Each person had an average of 67 in their belly button.
In that light, modern body care is nuking the rainforest: who knows what endangered bugs you are washing down the plughole?
Aganovic knew that 21st-century customers wouldn’t give it all up to roll in the dirt, so she has come up with an alternative cleanser and moisturiser that seems to be rosewater and coconut oil.
It’s fine, but for the last three days of my ten-day experiment I up the ante: I stop showering or cleansing and rely on the mist alone. (Aganovic doesn’t recommend this; she showers and mists daily.)
It’s not the smell – it’s the paranoiaHelen Rumbelow
My grandmother used to say “horses sweat, men perspire, ladies gently glow”. Sorry, grandma, but I glow like a bloody horse.
Yet without washing at all, my much-sampled body odour isn’t as rank as it would be otherwise.
When I am overdue a misting, it’s more, reported my (very) good friend, like a “faint top note of chardonnay left in the sun”.
One Mother Dirt user said her altered odour reminded her of a waft of “pleasant pot”. A few minutes after misting, my faint smell vanishes.
Aganovic says that about half of users find they can give up deodorant, as she does: they have no idea why people differ.
For them odour is less the point than helping skin conditions.
There is much continuing research into this, but only one small double-blind study has been finished; in it the N eutropha group said their skin felt better.
The only independent studies of N eutropha are being conducted by Raja Sivamani, a professor of dermatology at the University of California.
What is Mother Dirt?
- Mother Dirt creates products that “enhance and protect the skin biome”
- The brand’s spray replicates how human’s would wash themselves if living in the wild
- Their official website claims: “We believe restoring and maintaining beneficial bacteria is the answer to healthy skin and a great first step to a healthier lifestyle
- More research is in the pipeline to see if this method scientifically works
Sivamani asked one group of volunteers to spray Mother Dirt on their skin, while another group sprayed water, then he studied markers for inflammation. His data will not be ready to publish for a few months.
“We can see that N eutropha appears safe, but the jury is still out on how it works and what it does,” Sivamani said. “We did see a shift . . . Maybe some of the inflammatory agents were reduced, but those results were preliminary. This science is very early.”
Other scientists are being cautious too.
I speak to Carsten Flohr, the head of research and development at St John’s Institute of Dermatology, Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust in London. “It sounds nice, but they have a product to sell,” Flohr says.
Yet he remains open-minded, especially when I tell him about my armpit miracle. “The fact that there is little evidence so far doesn’t mean it doesn’t do something.”
I can only say that I liked this experiment. I felt fresh.Helen Rumbelow
In fact, Flohr’s research is pushing at the horizon of this new field.
There is good evidence that there is an important window in infancy for establishing a healthy gut microflora, and this may be the case be for the skin. Heed this, all you over-washers of children!
He also has studied how irritating sodium lauryl sulfate can be for the skin.
But, I say, I now know they are in almost every bathroom product. Should we be avoiding it? “Not everybody, but certainly those with eczema and dry skin.”
Hmm. I can only say that I liked this experiment. I felt fresh.
The Mother Dirt bottle is expensive, so I won’t carry on, but I will try to be a better host to my bacteria.
I knew I was converted when I was involved in a kid’s bathtime and some bubbles got on to my face.
I dashed to towel them off like the soap was some deadly poison.
Which to my new friend N eutropha, and God knows how many of his relatives that have come to stay at mine, it is.
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Christmas spice cinnamon helps you lose weight by burning fat, research claims
CHRISTMAS spice cinnamon helps people lose weight by burning fat, research suggests. Experiments showed its main ingredient cinnamaldehyde acts on cells called adipocytes. Tests on volunteers found it increased the use of genes, enzymes and proteins which boost their metabolism. Professor Jun Wu, of the Life Sciences Institute at Michigan University in the US, said: […]
CHRISTMAS spice cinnamon helps people lose weight by burning fat, research suggests.
Experiments showed its main ingredient cinnamaldehyde acts on cells called adipocytes.
Cinnamon is regarded as a super food for its fat-burning powers[/caption]
Tests on volunteers found it increased the use of genes, enzymes and proteins which boost their metabolism.
Professor Jun Wu, of the Life Sciences Institute at Michigan University in the US, said: “Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years – and people generally enjoy it.
“So if it can help protect against obesity, too, it may offer an approach to metabolic health that is easier for patients to adhere to.”
She said as it’s already used widely in food it might be easier to convince patients to stick to a cinnamon-based treatment than to a traditional medicine.
The health benefits of cinnamon are no excuse for over indulging in egg-nog or mulled wine this Christmas[/caption]
But she warned against winter revellers loading their egg-nog or mulled wine with extra cinnamon to keep the Christmas pounds at bay.
Prof Wu said further studies are needed to determine how best to harness cinnamaldehyde’s metabolic benefits – without causing adverse side effects.
The spice has already been linked to reducing the risk of diabetes, cutting cholesterol, relieving symptoms of Alzheimer’s and staving off heart disease and cancer.
Cinnamaldehyde is the active compound in cinnamon – and is also responsible for the flavour that lifts dishes, mainly desserts.
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The household ingredient could also aid those with Parkinson’s disease. Scientists said in 2014 the spice is the source of a chemical that can protect the brain.
Livers convert cinnamon into sodium benzoate – an approved drug used in the treatment for brain disorders.
In a study of mice the found it enters the brain, stops the loss of proteins, protects neurons and improves motor functions.
Daily horoscope for Thursday November 23 – here’s what the stars have in store for you today
ARIES March 21 to April 20 You have a clearer understanding of the way other people’s minds work and this helps you transform a lacklustre project into a winner. Later, as Venus goes deeper into the soul-mating zone, you will be asked a surprising yet passionate question. Luck is waiting at a table that’s set […]
March 21 to April 20
You have a clearer understanding of the way other people’s minds work and this helps you transform a lacklustre project into a winner.
Later, as Venus goes deeper into the soul-mating zone, you will be asked a surprising yet passionate question.
Luck is waiting at a table that’s set for seven people.
April 21 to May 21
Mars adds that crucial extra helping of confidence that transforms you into a high achiever at work.
Just as rewarding is the way you inspire others to believe in their ambitions.
As for love, the moon links passion and travel – all the way from a flirty smile on a daily journey to winning an exotic and romantic holiday.
May 22 to June 21
Today you are the artistic type and Neptune inspires wonderful ideas for greetings cards.
This may not, at first, seem exciting but the results could transform the way you earn a living.
As for love, it’s out there for you so shake off a stay-at-home mood and meet up with friends. Luck opens a yellow door.
June 22 to July 22
Your leading light, the moon, will clear away any clouds of doubt and help you to believe in love again.
If you’re single, you miss a former workmate and you realise what seemed like dislike was just hiding desire.
All the talent you, or a close relative, need is there, now it’s time to see how far your skills will take you.
July 23 to August 23
The Mars effect helps you think like a winner – keep discussions short and to the point and make decisions.
This can apply to family life and work plans. But later, super-romantic Neptune adds new treats to the love menu.
Single? Someone you thought could only be a friend asks you a passion-packed question.
Phone Meg’s live psychics on 0905 005 8102 (£1.50 per min + your phone providers access charge. 18+ only) or to pay by credit/debit card call 08000 356 684 or mobile users call 020 7111 6406.
Text a psychic. Just text MEG then a space and your question to 84122 (£1 per message. Max 3 per reply).
Calls cost £1.50 per min plus your telephone company’s network access charge. You must have bill payers permission. Calls recorded for your protection, Max call duration 19 minutes for 0905 number. Over 18’s only. These services are for entertainment only. SMS cost £1 per received message, max 3 messages per reply. UK only. To opt out of free promo messages call Helpline: 020 7111 6210. SP: Inveroak.com, PO BOX 10015, CM1 9HH.
August 24 to September 22
You’re ready to reveal your true ambitions, just make sure the ones closest to you don’t feel left out.
But when it comes to love, the change of direction from planet Neptune stirs a marriage proposal, or even rival bids for your affection.
Just remember that real love is the one that gives you time to be sure.
September 23 to October 23
Venus and Mars stir up a choice between love that could lead to a comfortable lifestyle or one that’s full of challenges and rich in passion.
In the working world, it can feel awkward when friends compete for the same job but somehow you’ll always be there for each other.
Luck is linked to “K” names.
October 24 to November 22
You’re the strong, clever, serious one in the family and in a work or a sports team, though it both confuses and impresses a partner who has not seen this side of you before.
If you’re ready to start a new relationship, take special notice of a friend of a friend who is wearing an airline uniform.
November 23 to December 21
As the sun travels further into your personal image chart, you can put your best self on show and make genuine progress with the project that matters most.
Venus unlocks the hidden sector of your chart to reveal who has a secret crush on you.
A source of luck for the family is the TV game show you all love to watch.
December 22 to January 20
Words that seemed so difficult to write start to flow so easily. Just start talking.
On the subject of love, daring to trust each other totally may not always be easy but gives a relationship its best chance of making both partners happy.
Looking for love? Your new partner has a distinctive voice you feel you recognise.
January 21 to February 18
Venus gives you the charisma that gets you noticed at work, and when a team is being put together.
Earning more money – or a surprise cash windfall – can stir disagreements, so discuss the best way to use it while everyone is calm.
As for love, partners grow close again. Single? You meet in a house full of history.
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February 19 to March 20
This is not a day for guesswork but to talk to a partner about your feelings and hopes for the future.
Some of what they say in return will surprise, mostly in a good way.
If you’re single, new love smiles where your favourite food is sold.
The luckiest out-of-the-blue meeting is with an ex-neighbour who has found fame.
Ambitious Kendall Jenner is the highest-earning model on the planet — and learnt it all from her famously pushy mum Kris Jenner
MODELLING used to be a profession for which you needed God-given beauty and to be “discovered” by a well-connected scout. Not any more, as the rise of Kendall Jenner to the position of world’s top model shows. Forbes magazine announced this week that Kendall, 22, is the highest-earning model on the planet, knocking Gisele Bundchen, […]
MODELLING used to be a profession for which you needed God-given beauty and to be “discovered” by a well-connected scout.
Not any more, as the rise of Kendall Jenner to the position of world’s top model shows.
Forbes magazine announced this week that Kendall, 22, is the highest-earning model on the planet, knocking Gisele Bundchen, 37, off the top spot for the first time in 15 years.
Kendall, half sister of Kim Kardashian, made £17million last year. Not bad for a girl who, as early episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians will attest, certainly wasn’t born with supermodel looks.
While pretty, Kendall did not have the otherworldly beauty or natural star quality possessed, for example, by a young Kate Moss.
But what she lacked in raw potential, Kendall made up for with ambition in bucketloads.
Kendall walked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Paris in 2016[/caption]
The supermodel wowed in this sheer dress at the Met Gala[/caption]
Keeping Up With The Kardashians started in 2007 and is still going strong[/caption]
In a letter she wrote to herself, aged 14, which she read out recently on America’s Tonight Show, she said: “My goal in life is to become a big-time model and travel to really amazing places. And I’m really excited to read this in the future.”
All the Kardashian-Jenner sisters know that ambition can get you just about anywhere.
It is a lesson they learned from their famously pushy mother, Kris.
Even Kendall’s part in the much-derided Pepsi ad of April 2017, which saw her bringing a protest to a halt with a can of the fizzy drink, left her unscathed.
Kendall is the face of fashion and lingerie brand La Perla[/caption]
The brunette beauty was thrust into the limelight at a young age on Keeping Up With The Kardashians[/caption]
She claimed to be ignorant of the multi-million pound ad’s tone-deaf message, sobbing afterwards: “I would never purposely hurt someone, ever. If I knew this was gonna be the outcome, I would have never done something like this.”
Amid reports that Kris was furious with the soft drinks giant, Pepsi put out a statement apologising for “putting Kendall Jenner in this position”.
Neither Kendall nor Kris were about to let the Pepsi ad ruin her career, especially as, according to Kendall, it had been so hard won.
She insists: “People think that this (success) just came to me. But it didn’t. What I have has almost worked against me.”
Kendall began her modelling career walking for Marc Jacobs in New York Fashion Week at 18[/caption]
Since her first show Kendall has gone on to be the face of many high profile brands[/caption]
Her family name did not seem to count against her when she made her catwalk debut aged 18 in the Marc Jacobs show, the most coveted gig of New York Fashion Week.
It was quite the coup for a newbie, not least because Katie Grand, the superstylist who cast the 2014 show, admitted she was “underwhelmed” by Kendall on their first meeting.
Nevertheless, thanks to some pressure from Kendall’s agent, Grand gave Kendall a second chance and was impressed by her “super-ambitious and super-professional” attitude.
Kendall’s appearance at the show, wearing a nipple-baring sheer top, caused a storm. She found herself booked for top designers including Chanel, Giles Deacon and Karl Lagerfeld.
Kendall stuns off the catwalk as well as on it[/caption]
She also had major success as part of French designer Olivier Rousteing’s “Balmain army”. Rousteing happens to be a close friend of Kendall’s sister Kim and her husband Kanye West.
Kendall’s meteoric rise caused some resentment among other models and Kendall was allegedly bullied by jealous rivals who would put cigarettes in her drinks — although she has denied this.
Whether or not her name and connections got Kendall a leg up into the fashion industry, one thing is for sure — she has a social media reach that many of her counterparts can’t hope to match.
The Kardashian-Jenner family are no strangers to the spotlight[/caption]
On Instagram she has 85million followers, compared to Gisele, who has 13.5million, and a photo of her lying on the floor with her hair in heart formations is one of the most “liked” posts of all time.
Brands understand how powerful that is. On the day she was signed as the face of Estee Lauder in 2014, the company received six times more visitors to their website, 90 per cent of whom were first timers.
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And what of that not-so-God-given beauty?
Kendall has always denied having any cosmetic enhancement, but her nose appears slimmer, her lips plumper and her cheeks fuller than in her early years — although this could just be clever make-up.
Natural or not, it is a face you better get used to, because we will all be seeing plenty more of Kendall Jenner.
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