Wondering What to Do With Your Sourdough Discard? We Tried Using It as a Face Mask

Next time your annoying friend brings up their sourdough starter, ask them if they've put it on their face yet. Yes, their face.

After making bread (duh), pizza dough, muffins, and pancakes with my starter, I was running out of steam - and flour - for baking when I came across an article suggesting that sourdough discard can be used in your skin-care routine.

Citing a study about the physiological effect of a probiotic on skin, the author had concluded that lactobacillus plantarum (found in fermented food products like sourdough starter) "can act like an anti-inflammatory as well as enhance the antimicrobial properties of the skin." In other words, there's a good bacteria in the starter that can reduce acne and repair your skin barrier.

This . . . made sense? But before I lathered up, I wanted to consult and expert. I called on dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "There is mounting data showing that probiotics are beneficial to the skin," he said, confirming that the dough used for sourdough bread contains high level of probiotics. "They help normalize the skin's microbiome, reduce inflammation, improve skin barrier function, and can increase skin hydration."

OK, but is there any chance I put it on my skin and something horrendous happens?

"I see little harm in using sourdough bread dough as a face mask," he said. "Besides probiotics, natural sugars in the dough will likely help hydrate and protect the skin."

Armed with a doctor's approval and the misguided sense that this experiment could take my career to the next level, I measured out some discard.