Probiotics are live bacteria or yeasts that are present throughout our entire body (in the trillions) and support what is known as the “microbiome.” Our microbiome influences everything from our skin to digestion, and new scientific evidence shows that it’s basically a second immune system. I am pretty much probiotic obsessed, mostly because it makes sense to me that instead of stripping away all bacteria (the good with the bad) if we can find a way to build up good bacteria that’s already present throughout our bodies, it’s a natural way to make us strong enough to ward off the potentially risky or bad. We may actually be over-cleansing ourselves into illness.
One of the easiest ways to demonstrate how this works is with soap. Though a blanketed anti-bacterial makes sense for our hands (hello, NYC subway) it’s way too harsh for our skin and our scalp, where good bacteria thrive. This idea coupled with the long-term rates of hair loss that have been linked to shampoos put me in peak probiotic curiosity mode.
There are a lot of companies that now offer probiotics as the main ingredient, but I was especially drawn to clinically researched (and biotech-backed) Mother Dirt. Mother Dirt makes “biome-friendly” products, including a cleanser, shampoo, mist, and lotion. All of their products are made with live, good bacteria that transfer directly to the skin. After using their cleanser and actually swearing by it (it made my hugely sensitive skin less red and pimple-prone) I decided to try their shampoo.
(via Mother Dirt)
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The Mother Dirt Probiotic Hydrating Hair Wash Shampoo ($17) claims it can decrease the time between shampoos. This makes sense considering it’s not stripping necessary oils from the scalp but balancing the natural environment and re-adding good bacteria. Of course, the effectiveness of the shampoo will depend on your particular needs. I have curly hair, which means I’m constantly in need of serious moisture. I also tend to apply a ton of products, so buildup is an issue. Though you can forego conditioner with shampoo and apply their mist instead, I decide baby steps are best.
After the first wash, my hair (and scalp) feel good but it’s not an immediate miracle. On the first day, I don’t apply any other product to see if it will alter my texture in any way—my hair looks full and is soft. Of course, I keep with it, as I’m essentially rebalancing my microbiome and that for sure takes time. From this point, I wash my hair every two to three days though don’t (yet) reach a four-day mark (or longer). This could largely be because of personal preference. My scalp doesn’t look oily but I still feel the need to suds up.
(TMI, but my scalp)
As I continue to use the shampoo, my scalp feels clean and any cuts or irritation I might have had are no longer existent. I still detect some buildup after a few days (when I would normally wash my hair) but in spite of this, I feel it’s still worth it to stick with the shampoo. Going forward, I plan to add in the AO+ Restorative Mist ($69)—which is the only product in the line with a live culture of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria—to see if that’s the added kick I need.
(My hair on probiotic shampoo and little else)
Otherwise, my hair is manageable and feels great. I do somewhat miss the immediate effects of shampoo formulated specifically for curls, though I’m okay with defining my ringlets out of the shower. Ultimately, I think a probiotic shampoo is a step in the right direction, especially considering it’s plant-based and made with zero harsh ingredients (like sulfates or parabens). I plan on continuing to use it, though I may work in a more traditional shampoo depending on my concern ATM, at least once a week.
Is alcohol in your shampoo causing you problems? HERE’s what you need to know.