The No-Soap and No-Shampoo experiment is over, my thoughts

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Summary: After 22 days, I am done with my experiment to go three weeks without soap or shampoo. My results and what I will do about it.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

(11:50:56 CST)

The No-Soap and No-Shampoo experiment is over, my thoughts

To recap: the no-soap/shampoo experiment at 5 days an 10 days. To sum up, I went for 3 weeks without soap and shampoo excepting a couple of control days. I did shower and I did use a small amount of spray-on style deodorant but no antiperspirant and nothing too pore-clogging. I also cut out most lotions and kept any similar skin-treatment down to an absolute minimum. Along the way, I kept track of my hair and skin conditions and worked out how much better or worse it was to go without than go with soap and shampoo. At its core, the experiment was about a couple of things. There was the standard "worse living through chemistry" neo-ludditism. There was also a question of how much our bodies can adapt. People went without regular soapings and shampooings for years. Were we just stinky little sweat bombs? Or has the advent of soap and shampoo as a daily routine made body odor worse? Skin oil a real problem? Finally, as a long time suffering of mild but constant psoriasis, I am always curious about what things I could do to change this condition. Was shampoo/soap adding to the irritation or causing an imbalance? Would going without these chemicals cause my body to take care of it?

It is now at 22/23 days, and I am calling it an end. At least as an "experiment". What I keep doing from now on will be considered a life-style choice, I imagine. I suppose I will go down the list and discuss the different factors in a list format.

  • Hair condition: My hair ended up handling the oil fairly well. By the end, the hair was soft and not really coarse (as it was to begin with) and the oil no longer felt "greasy" at all. However, it must be said that the flaking, which was kind of disappearing at the start, seems to have gotten worse by the end. This will probably be person by person, and since I am prone to some flaking anyhow, it became a bit of a problem for me.
  • Skin condition: Awesome. Really, my skin feels great. All those little bumps and dry patches that we all get from time to time have dwindled to a minimum and my skin doesn't itch or such any more.
  • Body odor: Stands next to the flaking as something of the deal breaker. Some days, it was not that bad, but it would often come across as pretty rank. What changed from day to day, I do not know. I can say that I never quite didn't stink, if that makes sense (semantic, if not grammatical). Just some days, natural musk works and many days it is a little offensive. I know that's an American thing but it is a habit hard to unlearn. Rarely did it get strong enough to detect from too far away, but I do not like my body odor to be the reason people notice me.
  • Needed shower length: Honestly, my showers were not really longer. I might have spent more time with my hair actually under the spray but the overall shower time was about the same or possibly shorter. Shower time is really hard to guess, though, and I did nothing to actually measure the length; I am just going by my personal estimations.

What am I going to do about it? My overall impression is that while it's an interesting endeavor, it is not one that I feel compelled to keep up with. I do not fall into the anti-chem class of folk. I tend to be a realist. I fully admit that some byproducts are bad things, but I am going to wager that soap in-and-of-itself is not one of them. One change is that I am going to seek out a much less complicated set of soaps and shampoos, the kind of things like "baby shampoo" and gel soaps. It seems to be good to break up the oils a little bit, but my body seemed relatively ok without having any additional chemicals to keep up itself. I am going to keep the shampooing down to every other time, maybe once a week at the least, and soap I will only use when I feel my body needs it (once a month, maybe less, or after especially sweaty days). The body odor hotspots I will continue to wash with something and I will go back to antiperspirant though probably skip it on days when I am not going to be out in the public and such. When I do use soap/shampoo/etc I am going to keep the quantity down and rinse with lots of water.

As far as the flaking and the odor goes, had I given it longer, it might have worked out. Maybe. If I am ever in a position where I have about two months to be stinky and flaky, then I will give it a go. Maybe. Frankly, despite the benefits that did arise, I was always slightly annoyed by the oiliness in and around the ears and the whiffs of b/o I got off of myself. If you want, consider it being weak-willed on my part.

Si Vales, Valeo


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