For years in the skin-care world, dirty skin equaled bad skin — even to the point of overcleansing. But recent science has turned the squeaky-clean axiom on its head as new research about the power of your skin’s microbiome makes a case for getting dirty. Now, a new study shows that skin bacteria might even help protect against skin cancer.

In a study published in Science Advances in February, researchers identified a strain of bacteria commonly found on healthy human skin that might play a role in inhibiting the growth of some cancers. “This unique strain of skin bacteria produces a chemical that kills several types of cancer cells but does not appear to be toxic to normal cells,” Richard Gallo, chair of the department of dermatology at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and an author on the study, said in a statement.