After one paleo blogger admitted a few months ago that he doesn’t use soap, a flood of comments followed. Surprisingly, most were unabashedly enthusiastic. People claimed that after a few weeks of not washing their hair, it fixed itself, the grease went away, and shampoo was no longer necessary. Sufferers of skin conditions said that throwing out their fancy lotions was the best thing that ever happened. Grandaughters gushed over the skin of their elders, saying they owed it all too a healthy fear of soap, and a love of olive oil, almond oil, or other natural substances. I was inspired, and I started to cautiously change up my routine.
Well this trend has officially hit the main stream news circuit.The New York times has the eco-community buzzing with an article about people who have quit taking a daily shower, and think deodorant is stupid.
Wait wait wait, don’t jump to your conclusions yet. There are a lot of reasons not to take showers so often. It dries out your skin. You’re applying chemicals to your skin when you use conventional soap or bodywash. Your hair gets frizzy and unmanageable when you use shampoo. You’re spending more time and money, and wasting water and products.
In short, slathering up with harsh soaps and rinsing them off messes with your natural body chemistry. If you strip your body of oils, it just works overtime to pump them out again. Not to mention, there’s the potential for cancer when you consistently apply a cocktail of carcinogens to your skins and hair.
How to Not Shower
And there are a lot of different strategies for skipping the shower. One person highlighted in the NYT article said she swipes under her arms and, ahem, down there with a soapy washcloth and that does the trick. Some people use natural deodorant, lemon juice, baking soda, or nothing at all. Some people fix their diet (hold the garlic!). Shaving your armpits, even if you’re a boy, always helps.
As with many things, it’s all about doing what is right to for you. As many commenters pointed out, everybody has different body chemistry. If you are popping pharmaceuticals, drinking soda, and eating crap food, you will sweat all of that out of your pores and it won’t smell pretty.
Some people smell no matter what they do. It’s not their fault, and they have every right to douse themselves with chemical solvents if it makes themselves feel better.
On the other hand, some people are just capable of smelling sweet no matter what.
As for me? I run, I take the subway, I take the stairs, I walk long blocks–I need showers. I use natural deodorant (Tom’s of Maine crystal and Avalon Organics deodorant spray work the best). I wash and condition my hair with organic shampoo and conditioner. I definitely shave. But here is my concession:
I don’t use bodywash.
I told my friend Liz this the other day in the nail salon. We talk about sex and boyfriends in loud voices all the time, not caring who hears. But when I broached this topic, I lowered my voice until she had to lean in to hear me.
“So I uh, I don’t use body wash. I take showers everyday, but I just use a body brush and water and it seems to do the trick.”
I waited for her reaction.
She smiled and said, “Oh really? You don’t smell to me, honey!”
I’ve asked my boyfriend several times if I smell and he says I am just fine. My ex said the same thing. I give people hugs and no one wrinkles their nose. I get invited to people’s apartments. I make friends with people who are decidedly not hippie. So I think it’s OK.
I told my friend Katherine this summer (she takes one or more showers a day) and her reaction was. “EW.” But I asked her if I smelled and she conceded that she hadn’t noticed anything.
I still have some organic bodywash in the shower, for emergencies involving mud wrestling or accidents with a shaken up bottle of kombucha. But for the most part, I’m pretty happy with just a body brush and water.
I think it just comes down to experimenting with what is right for you. I tried the no ‘poo method, and I hated it. I worked my way through a few different natural deodorants before finding the right one. Just know thyself, and figure out what is best for your health, your skin, the environment … and your B.O.