The No Soap Experiment
I’m not really a fan of New Year’s resolutions. How many do you end up keeping?
However, a new year’s experiment – where you try something new, just for January? Ahh, that’s awesome.
So, a few years back I read a book a day for all of Jan. That was.. entertaining, although I didn’t do much else with my time.
Then I tried eating no meat for January a couple of years later. That lasted about 3 days, until I realised I’d have to learn how to cook tofu (Eww! No thanks!) whereupon I discovered the raw food diet – no cooking, no tofu? I’m sold! Which was great, and extended out more or less continuously from there.
This year, based on reading this, & this, I thought I’d try washing with no soap or shampoo for all of January.
To paraphrase the theory, one reason we smell is because of bacteria on our skin, which is amped up when we strip natural oils etc out using soaps (which also leave a thin film of chemicals on our skin). Skin is something which is vastly underrated, but given that it’s our largest organ, we should probably consider a little more than we tend to.
There’s also a theory that you should never put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat. Since our skin is absorbent, I’ve gotta say, that holds a lot of water for me.
People that have done the “no soap” thing before say it takes a couple of weeks for your body to adjust. There’s a lot of flushing of toxins, plus your body getting used to not having to constantly replace the oils. After that, things hum along – clean shiny hair, glowing skin, etc etc.
Personally? I’ve gotta say I’m skeptical. I have some unusual skin. It’s very moist (a dermatologist once showed it to me under a microscope, saying it was the moistest skin she’d ever seen). I also have a hyperactive lifestyle – working out until physical exhaustion (ie, mega sweat+dirt) four times a week, & do occasionally get very slight patches of eczema if I’m under a lot of stress or don’t clean super well. I also find that my pores clog up a little if I miss a patch on my leg, say, when I’m cleaning (particularly after hard exercise).
These are all very minor things, but I suspect they’ll be exacerbated without soap.
Up until now I’ve found the best solution is to use a very mild, non perfumed soap. I also do dry skin brushing (when I remember, I’m a bit lazy on that front, I’ll admit), which helps slough off dead skin cells.
Of course, I’ll still use soap before food prep, after the bathroom, or if (like today) I get myself covered in oil up to the elbows. Best not to be a complete idiot & ignore all that science has discovered in the past 200 years.
Also, this does NOT mean no washing. Hell no. Just not using soap. I’ll still be scrubbing my body as if I were using soap – so that friction will help clean off dirt etc. I already use a nail brush (without soap) to scrub real tough grime out – eg grass stains on the bottom of my feet after training.
At present I’m a few days in, and definitely in that “argh” stage. I’m going to up the skin brushing a bit, & have more regular showers to help my skin flush away any crud that’s coming out.
By the end of January I should have enough data to make a definitive conclusion – for my own body at least. Up to you to figure it out for yourself!