Body washing with water alone

Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal (a blog about paleolithic diet and exercise) writes that he has been showering without soap or shampoo for the past six months. Here are some of his observations:
Took about two weeks to normalize. That is, I felt my hair was greasy and skin oily up to then.

My skin & hair have never been softer. Never.

If anything, my hair is less "greasy" than ever, yet shampoo hasn't touched it in over six months.

Private parts. Have to address this, of course. This is the biggest benefit of all. Surprised? You'll just have to try it, because I'm not going to elaborate. That's why they call them "private parts." OK, a clue: maybe it's the constant cleansing that's the cause of the sweaty-stinky problem in the first place? If for nothing else, I'm soap free for life on this point alone. I feel as though I've been scammed -- and liberated. I can't explain further. You'll just have to try.

The commenters on his blog share similar soap-free experiences.


  1. I’ve been shampoo free for 4.5 years and I can 100% vouch for that part of Richard’s comment. I can’t imagine using shampoo ever again.

    I have not tried the soap free part yet.

  2. I think this would only work for people with short hair. Mine would be completely unmanageable without conditioner.

    1. asuffield – that’s not necessarily the case.

      My hair is down to my waist, and I wash it a bit less than once a week, with quite mild, pure liquid glycerine soap (none of the ususal shampoo additives, no conditioner, no perfumes). If anything, it’s gotten easier to manage since I stopped washing it often. My hair is very straight; I don’t know how different it might be if it were curlier.

      My wife also uses no shampoo, and only washes her hair with liquid soap maybe once a month or less. Her hair and scalp also are quite nice and not greasy. She has dreads, so ease of brushing doesn’t come into play.

    2. shampoo takes the natural oils out of your hair which is why you ‘need’ conditioner

  3. I’ve been pretty much soap free for years. Shampoo is another story. I tend to keep my hair a bit more “exotically” colored which necessitates a bit of maintenance. Still I only shampoo once a week, but I condition every day.

    Like George Carlin always said, “you only need to get the four key areas, armpits, asshole, crotch, and teeth, and you can save time by using the same brush for all four”

  4. Do others notice the same benefits the soap free people do or are the no-soapers surrounded by very polite people who are afraid to tell them the truth?

  5. I think we’ll have to hear from a neutral, non-patchouli user on his, er, scent before we can take this seriously. Otherwise Occam’s razor demands we assume he’s simply become accustomed to it.

  6. He doesn’t seem to address that this would likely necessitate increased water consumption, not very paleo of him.

    This was pretty paleo, though:

    I suspect that women who wash furiously and slather all manner of lotions might take a year or two to normalize.

    Sure, ’cause men don’t ever do this, or ’cause it matters a damn anyway: nice bit of caveman misogyny there.

    1. nice bit of caveman misogyny there.

      leaving aside the distinction between mysogyny and miscommuniation, what’s a homo erectus like you doing calling someone else a caveman?

      1. Teehee! Let’s say “miscommunication,” then, it’s nicer. Dunno, that sentence made me see all “Thog smash,” Johhny-Hart-style man-dragging-woman-by-hair imagery. It’s very BCE, “Before Compassion Evolved.”

        I’m shocked shocked that noone’s mentioned dingleberries yet, although anonymous @16 comes close. For hirsute thickhaired types *I’ve heard* that this can be a problem, even with liberal latherings. I’d like to hear the paleo position on this fundamental issue.

    2. What if you bathed in a pond or running stream? That would be paleo. During the dry season you could give yourself a dustbath just like the chickens.

      OK but seriously: soap and detergent merely adjust water’s surface tension and help carry away dirt in the suds. If you’re willing to wash longer and scrub more, you can still get clean with straight water. I seriously want to know if these paleo no-soap hippies are aware of their water usage.

    1. Except that she didn’t SHOWER at ALL, whereas Richard Nikoley is washing with water daily, or a couple times a day if he works out.

      So really, it’s not a comparison at all.

  7. Hm. I wonder if soap is actually causing skin problems for many people out there. I could see, for example, how stripping oils away from skin could cause sebaceous glands to kick into overdrive, leading to clogged pores and acne. I donno if I’m ready to give no soap a try, though.

  8. I subscribe to the goerge carlin method also.

    I’ve tried not washing my hair for afew weeks… Makes my scalp hurt.

    I think richard might be a little crazy.

    1. i think it’s only natural for a human being, now to rely on the products they put in front of us. there trying to take away a natural thing and make us slaves.

  9. I think soap and shampoo do disturb the microclimates on your body, and I do think the stinkier microbes move in faster on some people when they do that.

    If humans needed soap like we need tears, sweat, and phlegm, then we’d have a soap gland.

    deodorant or perfumes are a different matter, only tangentially related.

    All personal care products (and holidays, and cars, and lawn care products, and ….) are sold by making you feel insecure and then offering a solution. Soap is no different.

  10. These article always make me feel guilty and then hostile because I am not willing to give the experiment the time necessary to work. Frankly, if something takes a month to get used to, I’m not doing it. I’ve gone a week without washing my hair, and while it was much more manageable, I was wearing it up so the oil front wasn’t immediately apparent.
    Then you have my aunt, who can go a week and not notice any change at all.

    I am immediately skeptical of any lifestyle change for which the answer to, “No, I don’t think I like it,” is, “Then you haven’t been doing it long enough.”

    1. You can’t compare his situation to yours, because he is still bathing daily in water, whereas you didn’t have your hair touch water for a week.

  11. I haven’t used soap for years. The shampoo thing definitely doesn’t work with long hair, though.

  12. I have a few friends who swear by no shampoo, but I’m not ballsy enough to try it. I don’t know anyone who’s gone completely no-soap, though.

  13. OK, as someone who subscribes to the more traditional Western culture method of soaping the hell out of hair and body every single day, can you answer me a few questions?

    * What’s the smell like? I don’t mind a neutral scent (I use unscented soap), but I don’t want to have a *biological* scent.

    * What about the asshole…can get kinda dirty down there?

  14. I like soap. And I like shampoo, too. There’s no way I would voluntarily give them up just to give them up for the sake of giving them up.

    There are tons of things I don’t need that I still want. I’d put soap way up there on that list.

    Here’s how I know:
    I’ve done a lot of 3 week long river trips in cold weather, where it’s just too cold to bathe (or to want to). The very first thing, and I mean the VERY first thing I do when I get back is shower. With lots of soap.

    Few things feel as good as a soapy scrub.

  15. I have very sensitive skin (the pale translucent dry type) and I use soap in the shower very rarely. I have an oil based body wash that I use periodically, and some acne wash antibacterial soap that I use on my underarms and back if I’m feeling particularly grungy. Wearing clothes all day and working inside I just don’t get dirty enough for soap! This doesn’t mean I don’t shower regularly- I do, and just give myself a good rub down with a wet wash cloth. Wait, that sounds lewd. But I’m leaving it. :)

  16. Did the “no ‘poo” for a few months. I can only theorize that the glowing testimonials are a result of confirmation bias. This guy seems just as deluded. But hey whatever floats yer boat. Just please sit far from me.

  17. I really would not want to eat dinner at this man’s house.
    “No, it’s okay, I rinsed the chicken blood off my hands with pure, clean water! My skin is so soft and smooth, why would you worry about food poisoning?”

    1. “I haven’t used soap or shampoo anyplace on my body for six months, save hand washing in advance of food prep. ”


    2. If you had read the full article: “I haven’t used soap or shampoo anyplace on my body for six months, save hand washing in advance of food prep.” So I think he has your complaint about chicken blood covered!

      1. “I haven’t used soap or shampoo anyplace on my body for six months, save hand washing in advance of food prep.”

        This does NOT cover the complaint about raw chicken. “in advance of” means prior to. How often do you have chicken blood on your hands prior to cooking? The worry is what he does with his hands AFTER handling raw chicken. Shaking hands? Serving guests? Emptying the dishwasher?

        Then again, he’s probably a vegan…

    3. from the article: “I haven’t used soap or shampoo anyplace on my body for six months, save hand washing in advance of food prep.”

  18. I have one thing to say: ARMY
    Ask people who have been in Iraq with no water for bathing. You have a good cross section of skin types and no self-selection problems.

  19. Count me in the skeptical crowd. I ran into a crowd of the no-shampoo types at an event, and they smelled like it.

    I did get curious, though, and do find I can shampoo less often, instead just scrubbing my scalp with conditioner. More than a week or so, though, and my hair is palpably greasy. Maybe I’m fussy, but I’d rather people not feel like they have to wipe their hands after touching me.

  20. It makes complete sense to me. If you mostly eradicate all populations in an area, they repopulate unevenly, stuff on the bottom of the food chain comes back quickly and with no predators, since those organisms reproduce more slowly. Goodbye balanced ecosystem.

    I have long avoided soap on the lady-bits (go right ahead, if you like bacterial infections), but I use soap everywhere else. I reduced my shampooing from daily to once a week, and have been using only conditioner other days. My hair feels clean and soft, and stays feeling oil-free longer.

    I had no adjustment period with that shampoo change, maybe for folks who are wary of waiting 2 weeks or a month, they could try some transitional product (like the glycerin soap some mentioned) and reduce the frequency of use in increments? Anyway, I think I may try this.

  21. I wish my grandma was still alive so I could tell her that there were people who didn’t use soap just to see the look on the woman’s face. It would be fracking priceless.

  22. Since having cancer treatments I stopped washing as thoroughly – because I didn’t have the energy. But a year has gone by and I’ve kept up with this habit…washing the pitts and privates – I’ve found my nails are stronger, my skin is clearer, my hair is softer (I put powder on the part). And, no nasty smells at all. My mother used to call this a whore’s bath. How very steampunk!’ I’m relieved I can confess to this.

    1. I loved this comment, even though you made it ages ago it’s so brilliant!!

      I haven’t used soap/shampoo anywhere for about a month, and I must say lady bits and arms-pits are way happier….considering that previously I was using very strong antiperspirants as well as the soap!?

      Now I feel like I have been literally posioning myself with sodium lauryl sulphate for the best part of 30yrs…and to think I was so proud of my lathering and scrubbing techniques.

  23. I wouldn’t go the ‘no soap’ route, but I have never in my life used deodorant, and now I’m in my 50’s. I also don’t use shaving cremes or gels, just the bar soap and hot water. “They” try to sell us a bunch of bullshit we don’t really need. That said, though, if someone likes to use fancy soaps and perfumes, what the hell. Although if you’ve ever been on a rail car full of commuters in the morning, it’s like walking down the ‘soap aisle’ in the supermarket, smells toxic and makes me feel nauseous.

  24. I have a friend from an eastern european country who showers once a week. For the longest time i was totally like “wtf is wrong with you” but to be honest, she never smelled bad. Nor was her hair greasy. I tried it for a while and honestly, once you give it time, it does work out nicely. Unfortunately these days I usually use product in my hair for styling purposes, so i wash it every night so i dont rub it into the pillow and then all over my face. My body on the other hand does not get SOAP washed every day, maybe once a week. I’ve never had any complaints.

  25. Can’t comment on the soap thing – but if its based on the same ‘science’ as the rest of the website, I’m calling it a load of nonsense

    Just have a quick look at what he has to say about the ‘vegetarian myth’

    Needless to say as a trained palaeoanthropologists I find most of this ‘palaeo diet’ stuff very very unconvincing

    1. I’m not sure how a paleoanthropologist is qualified to debate or refute claims in biochemistry. The neurobiologist who runs the blog Whole Health Source – Stephan Guyenet – has been promoting the paleo diet by dissecting studies in dietary science for a few years now, and seems convinced of the health benefits and arguments from evolutionary biology. Check him out sometime.

  26. I’ve never used soap for anything except removing dirt that plain water would not remove. That’s what it’s for, right? Why would you use it unless you needed it?

    I frequently get quite filthy, so I have to wash my hands many times a day and shampoo nearly every day. I don’t like oil, soot, earth or fine sawdust (especially the toxic kinds) in my skin and hair. So I wash it off, with soap if necessary, which it usually is. My son and I moved a few dozen pine logs yesterday and we got pine sap and dirt ground into our hands and forearms that simply could not be removed with water.

  27. I’ve stood next to enough people that obviously don’t use deodorant or soap that I wouldn’t go that route. Some people have pretty strong scents, others don’t.

    Then there are the guys who wash their hair less frequently and have rather noticeable dandruff. That’s not off-putting at all.

    And what about those of us who use some sort of styling aid in our hair? Sure, that’s a product of vanity, but it doesn’t change the fact that I have hair paste that needs to be washed out, and hot water alone doesn’t quite cut it.

    In short: works well if you don’t naturally smell bad, don’t use any other products, and have the time to “adjust.”

  28. From what I can tell, no shampoo doesn’t mean he isn’t at least running his hair through water. For the most part, I see this. People who have BO have it pretty naturally, regardless of how often they wash, or what they wash with.
    Course, give a kid this article and he’ll find an excuse to play in the rain to avoid a bath.

  29. I’ve switched from ‘regular’ soap to an olive oil based soap. Within a few days, the few blisters (and red skin) that I’d had on my hands for a long time went away, and haven’t come back. Mind you, I’ve only been using the soap for about a month. I shower daily but rarely use shampoo. One thing I’ve noticed (I work in a carpentry shop) is that sawdust comes out easier without using an air blower. Sawdust doesn’t seem to ‘stick’ to the hair anymore.

    Also, I think some here may be equating not using soap with not showering. Though, at the same time, I also agree that its not for everyone. Hell, there’s some people out there that could shower every hour AND use deodorant and STILL smell like ass…

  30. About 20 years ago, I was plagued with dry skin, and my hair was brittle and poor to manage (curly, thick). My dad at the time had a full head of beautiful hair (he was 50) and I used him his secret. He said he never used anything in his hair, except for a smidge of bar soap when he was exceptionally sweaty.

    Since then I’ve never used anything in my hair, other than water for cleaning. I used gels and such and slowly worked my way down to just a couple of drops of baby oil if its very dry out. My hair smells great – it doesn’t smell like ‘product’ or applesauce or whatever, it smells like natural human hair. The ladies like it, anyway.

    I’ve switched from harsh soaps to natural nearly no lye soaps and it improved my skin as well. Now I just use a little on the sensitive bits and nothing elsewhere; and as I’ve removed my sugar and starch addictions I’ve found that smells have decreased there as well.

  31. Who knew that The Great Unwashed Masses referred to the BB commentariat?

    I practice and teach yoga and get quite sweaty, but I still don’t smell bad. Some people have more eccrine sweat glands (less odor) and some have more apocrine sweat glands (more odor).

    1. Some people have more eccrine sweat glands (less odor) and some have more apocrine sweat glands (more odor).

      Is that what it is? I have to mop up the pools of sweat I create in the dojo so other people don’t slip – usually two or three times in a 1.5 hour session – but I don’t stink unless I’ve had far too much garlic soup. I know a couple of other people who are the same way, and one that is completely opposite (he reeks the instant he breaks a sweat).

      If you don’t count the head, there’s a pretty strong correlation between the placement of hair follicles and pheromone producing glands in humans. Hair increases the surface area available for distribution of volatile chemical messengers, so draw your own conclusions.

  32. I am very anti-patchouli and anything that vaguely resembles a hippy but I have been no soap for at least over 20 years now – didn’t really think about it, it just sort of happened. I shower every day (at least once, more if needed) and I scrub vigorously, I also shave my entire body and do not generally use deoderant or similar products. As others have mentioned – washing without soap is different, VERY DIFFERENT, than not washing. Everyone from girlfirends to workout partners have commented on my lack of scent more than anything else – which I think comes mainly from the shaving since there is no hair to hold the smell. My skin is clear and healthy to the point that it often gets remarked upon. I wouldn’t go so far as to say going generally no soap will fix anything for you but it certainly also is not the problem that many here seem to think it would be.

  33. When I lived in Florida, I knew more than a few people who refused to use soap, products, or deodorant for long periods of time.

    They smelled like hot death.

    I don’t overuse products or soap, or deodorant, but my counterpoint to any and all of these complaints about “necessity” is

    toothpaste, floss, and the whole of modern medicine.

    Anyone who thinks the human body is 100% self-sufficient must be a creationist, because our bodies are amazing but incredibly imperfect.

  34. A close friend of mine doesn’t use shampoo and hasn’t for a long time. He showers everyday and uses soap but nothing on his hair except water. His hair smells bad, even by his own admission.

    My scalp itches after two days without shampoo. I couldn’t go longer to see if it passes, too irritating.

  35. I may as well tell my story in case anyone is in a similar position. My hair is medium length for a guy – long enough to part on the side when it’s freshly cut, but not so long that it ever reaches my eyebrows. It is quite wavy, but not curly. And in the Florida climate (very humid), it used to friz up like crazy.

    Ever since a pre-teen I’d have to use gel or hairspray to keep it under control. Over 15 years, I tried many strengths and brands of shampoos and gels in a never-ending war to subdue my hair. I would have given anything to just have straight hair.

    Then last year I came across a fleeting comment about not really needing to use shampoo at all, so I tried it. Most days I would vigorously rinse my hair without any products, then use shampoo once a week or so. At first, I would have to use some sort of gel for the first day or so after using shampoo, but because I wasn’t chemically washing it out, the residual gel seemed to keep the hair from frizzing without requiring me to re-gel. However, it would start to get oily after a few days. It became clear that the shampoo and gel were causing some sort of vicious cycle where one was only needed because of the other and vice-versa.

    Finally after getting a fresh short cut once, I tried not shampooing at all. After a couple days of frizzing, the natural oil in my hair seemed to control the problem. And as long as I rinse it thoroughly, the oil doesn’t build up to become a problem. And as an added benefit, I no longer need gels or sprays anymore either.

    So it seems like the shampoo and gels were having some sort of war with my scalp as the battlefield. The shampoo would clean out the gel, but damage the hair causing it to friz. The frizzing required more gel and so on. For many months now, I haven’t needed either, and my hair feels softer and cleaner than ever.

    I haven’t really tried the no-soap idea yet, but the no-shampoo definitely worked out for me.

  36. Hmmm… I don’t use soap on my body, never have. I wash my hands though. I don’t use deodorant either, but I do wax the hair away. I wash my face with oil, which sounds crazy, but it makes my skin really nice. I just slather castor and grapeseed oils on, rub them in, and then sweat them off in the shower. I should probably add that I often get two showers a day, which can be drying on the hair, but I like to shower in the morning and have to after my workouts. Usually after a workout though I just rinse my hair, but even then it was getting dry.

    So I thought that the no shampoo method would be a great idea. I went one week, and at first it looked promising.

    But by the second week my hair was vile. I have full straight hair, but each hair is thin. The texture is fine and soft. I had to wear it pulled back in a bun every day. It never evened out. The stuff stayed greasy straight, wet looking, and generally dirty until I finally gave in and washed it. It was horrible to take it down out of the bun. It was sort of stiff and would hold a rigid shape when I brushed it.

    I’m pretty sure hair like mine is a good reason that so many ancient peoples braided their hair or wore wigs. Seriously.

    I think shampoo was invented *because* of hair like mine

  37. Stinky pits? Give `em a shave. Odor problems below the belt or stinky feet? Use a scrub brush. Dead skin stinks!

  38. As far as I’m concerned, as long as you live alone on a desert island, your personal hygiene habits are your own business, and I wouldn’t presume to tell you whether or not you ought to use soap. However, if you choose to live in civilized society, where you spend much of your day around other people, you must tacitly consent to the social contract, which requires that you take the health, safety, and wellbeing of the people around you into consideration. You ought to be free to “do your own thing” as long as doing your own thing doesn’t harm anyone else; but it’s never legitimate for anyone to act with reckless disregard for the welfare of others. For example, if you drink and drive, pollute your local river, operate a meth lab out of your home, yell “fire” in a crowded theatre, or refuse to get vaccinated for common infectious diseases, you are not only putting your own health, safety, and wellbeing at risk, you are putting the health, safety, and wellbeing of everyone around you in danger as well. Likewise, if you don’t take good care of your own personal hygiene, you are assaulting everyone around you with noxious odors (at best) and the potential for infectious diseases (at worst).

    Now, perhaps you could argue that you don’t really need soap, shampoo, etc. in order to maintain good hygiene, prevent the spread of disease, and keep noxious odors to a minimum. But I have to say that I’m skeptical. I’d want to see some hard scientific evidence to support the claim that (ceteris paribus) washing with water alone is just as hygienic as washing with soap and water. To be honest, I find the very notion of trying to return to paleolithic ways of living to be utterly ridiculous. After all, there’s gotta be a reason why the average lifespan of modern humans is more than twice the average lifespan of paleolithic humans. The modern world must be doing something right.

    1. So is it a public health issue if someone you have to spend time around doesn’t shave their legs (women) or backs (men)?

      Different people vary a lot in their natural levels of smell, sweat, skin shedding, hair growth, etc. I’m somewhere in the middle (I think) but I’ve known those who stinky-sweat horribly despite all precautions, and those who can work dirty hard labour and are barely worse for it, even days in.

      Vulnerability to extremely common fungi, etc is probably part of it, as well as diet, but for many there’s little they can do. Would you rather (s)he smell or have cracked bleeding skin, from the constant lye?

      Perfumes and deodorants show they are making an effort, but can contribute to asthma attacks in their neighbours. Now *that’s* a public health issue.

      You don’t have to actually walk a mile in their shoes, but the sentiment still stands.

      1. @Anonymous #114: Apples and oranges. As long as you bathe regularly (using soap), body hair is not really a hygiene issue, merely an aesthetic issue. (Though, if you don’t use soap, I suppose that body hair could become a hygiene issue; so you’d probably have to do as the ancient Romans did and pluck out all of your body hair.)

        You are correct in pointing out that there’s going to be lots of individual variation in body odor. But that doesn’t negate the general principle that each of us ought to have enough self-respect, and enough respect for the people we come in contact with, to try our best not to stink in public. There’s lots of individual variation in driving ability, too; but we all have to follow the same traffic laws if we want to keep the roads safe. Someone who comes to America from Britain or Japan may have an individual preference for driving on the left side of the road; but if she is going to drive in the U.S. then she’s going to have to drive on the right, even if this makes her uncomfortable. Using soap may make you uncomfortable; but if you’re going to go out in public, you may have to do things that make you uncomfortable. Like I said before, if you live alone then you’re free to do as you please; but if you are around other people then you have an obligation to take their wellbeing into account as well as your own. Maybe you don’t personally like using soap; and maybe you don’t think you really need it; but the people you meet when you’re out in public may not agree.

        I’ve had the misfortune of being around people who stink from body odor, bad breath, etc.; and I’ve noticed two critical things: (a) They never realize that they stink; and (b) The people around them are always too polite to tell them that they stink (though they will talk about them behind their backs). So, just because you don’t think that you stink, and no one has ever told you that you stink, that doesn’t mean that you don’t really stink. Our sense of smell quickly adjusts to constant odors in our environment so that we stop noticing them — we only notice new odors. That’s why people never notice their own body odor or bad breath unless it’s something new (e.g. noticing your own bad breath right after eating garlic, or your own body odor right after a workout). And people who live together quickly adjust to each other’s body odor, too. So, your spouse and kids are probably not reliable judges of how much you stink. It’s the people who don’t actually live with you, but who you meet out in public, who really know whether or not you stink (and the vast majority of them will be too polite to tell you if you do).

        That’s one crucial difference between the paleolithic world and the modern world: In paleolithic times humans lived in very small groups that were relatively isolated from each other; so the members of each group quickly adjusted to the way their companions smelled — though they invariably thought that members of other, “foreign” groups stank (perhaps this partially explains the origins of xenophobia and racism). But in modern times humans live in large communities where they routinely encounter people who have not grown accustomed to their smell. So, if you’re gonna live in modern society rather than on some commune in the wilderness, you really have to take great care about your personal hygiene — much more so that paleolithic humans would have.

        One final point to those who claim that using soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. is “unnatural”: If God (or natural selection, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whatever) had intended us to use personal hygiene products like soap and toothpaste, then he/she/it/they would have endowed us with brains capable of inventing these things and recognizing the need for them.

        1. That should be: “much more so THAN paleolithic humans” (I hate it when I notice a typo in one of my comments after I’ve already hit the submit button.)

        2. I haven’t used soap (except for hands and feet) for years. I teach yoga.To fussy society matrons. If I smelled bad. I would have been fired years ago.

          The fact that you’ve encountered malodorous people is irrelevant to the discussion. Nobody disputes that some people smell bad. You’ve extrapolated that olfactory anecdotal tidbit into a general statement about people who water wash. And tossing in the idea that xenophobia is due to smelly foreigners is the cherry on top of your pseudo-science sundae.

          1. @Antinous #125: First I must apologize for poorly phrasing my xenophobia comment. I never meant to suggest that modern xenophobia is due to “smelly foreigners”. What I meant to say was that in paleolithic times, when members of one group encountered members of an unfamiliar group, whose body odor they were not used to smelling, the unpleasant smell may have contributed to negative stereotypes about that group. The stereotype that “outsiders” are “unclean” may then have been passed down over the generations; and may, therefore, form the basis of modern xenophobia. Had paleolithic humans had access to modern personal hygiene products, perhaps encounters with strangers would have gone more smoothly, and xenophobia would never have developed in human society. Of course, this is just idle speculation on my part; and I never meant to present it as established fact. So it’s a bit unfair to characterize it as pseudoscience. As Karl Popper argued, all science must begin with speculation. The only difference between science and pseudoscience is what you do with your speculation once you have it.

            And speaking of pseudoscience, you have totally misrepresented the gist of my argument, and have tried to refute it with a single anecdotal case (n=1). I made three basic claims: (a) If you go out in public in a modern society, you have a social obligation to attend to your own personal hygiene so as not to spread disease or to offend others with noxious bodily odors; (b) It’s hard to know for sure whether or not you stink because you (and the people who live with you) are accustomed to your bodily odor, and other people are probably not going to be rude enough to tell you that you stink; so you really have to take great care to insure that you are doing everything possible to maintain good hygiene; and (c) We know that washing regularly with soap and water works well to promote good hygiene; but the claim that washing with water alone works just as well as washing with soap and water has not been established scientifically, and ought to be viewed with skepticism. Now, my first claim is normative; so it can neither be proved nor disproved — you either accept it or you don’t. You have completely misrepresented my second claim as an attempt to establish, by anecdotal evidence, that people who don’t use soap necessarily stink. (And you have attempted to refute that claim with your own anecdotal evidence.) But I was never claiming that people who don’t use soap necessarily stink. Rather, I was claiming that people who stink probably don’t realize that that stink; so how can you ever be sure that your personal hygiene regimen is really working? (And, I should also point out that, just because you don’t stink doesn’t mean that you aren’t a vector for infectious diseases.) My point was that people shouldn’t stop using soap based solely on anecdotal evidence from people who don’t use soap, or even based on their own personal experience, since you can never be sure how much you stink to the strangers you meet in public, or whether or not you are a vector for infectious diseases. Until the scientific community establishes (through rigorous, controlled experiments) that washing with water alone is just as hygienic as washing with soap and water, prudence would seem to demand that we continue to use soap.

            And, as for your own personal testimonial, I would assume that a yoga class is one of the few places in our modern society where it is considered socially acceptable to be a little stinky; so I’m not convinced.

          2. I’m more than willing to admit that good hand washing is part of the social contract. I also scrub my feet with soap and a brush because they’re bare and aimed at my students and ground-in dirt doesn’t come out with just water. Beyond that, I don’t really get the social contract aspects.

            Up until fifty years ago, most Americans bathed weekly. In the last few decades, advertisers have told you that your odor will be socially unacceptable unless you buy their products. You swallowed the bait. Now clinical odorlessness is part of the social contract. I don’t know about women, but most of the men of my acquaintance, gay and straight, seem to feel that some human smell is desirable.

          3. “Had paleolithic humans had access to modern personal hygiene products, perhaps encounters with strangers would have gone more smoothly, and xenophobia would never have developed in human society.”

            … Only if all paleolithic humans used the same kind of personal hygiene products.

  39. I have crazy-sensitive skin — the type that breaks out in red blotches if someone so much as LOOKS at me wrong.

    An awful lot of the skin problems we deal with is because we strip the oils out, then replace them with other oils that aren’t compatible with our skin — and our skin pitches a hissy fit.

    Gentle cleansers (NOT soap — preferable those with no color, no fragrance, and formulated for sensitive skin) and gentle moisturisers (see above) take care of most of the issues.

    Quit trying to calm the irritations by force, and they’ll all go away…and you don’t smell like a stable.

  40. PLEASE, spare us all from the ludicrous arguments about it being unnatural to use soap/shampoo (“why didn’t nature provide us with a soap gland”?). As far as evolution was concerned (which has long since ceased to act on us, of course), it didn’t matter how stinky we were as long as we could still mate – and a lot of said mating wasn’t exactly a matter of courtship.

    1. Except if you smell like shit, no cavewoman is going to come near you. And as the original article author has already plainly stated – and you’ve conveniently ignored – there is no problem with smell.

      The key is to *keep bathing*, but only use water. Stop bathing altogether, and you’re going to stink and greasify.

  41. My hair has never been greasy since the first couple of weeks after I stopped using shampoo a little over 4 years ago. I get compliments on it all the time–mostly for its body and texture, but my natural hair colour isn’t great anyways. My hair is short though. I shower most everyday.

    It has never occurred to me to stop using body soap. Although, the stuff I do use is pretty granola anyways, after reading these comments, I think I’ll cut it out too. Actually, it’s funny to think that expensive non-chemical soaps might attract and keep customers simply by letting their skin return to a more natural state—i.e. placebo effect :)

  42. There are a few factors to consider here: individual biological, soap / ‘poo composition, and the getting dirty factor.

    If you get dirty – say you live in NOLA, dig ditches for a living or have just worked out – soap is your friend. Romans used oils and scraped dirt off. Maybe this worked well, or maybe they were stinky. We don’t know.

    Some people’s skin and scalp are naturally pretty oily (consider how these things have probably changed since you hit puberty). Not everyone can manage that without soaps. Of course, things like diet and exercise level may very well play a part in one’s natural body smell…

    Soap and detergent are different things. Most Americans now almost exclusively use detergents, which are made to chemically break down oils and dirt, while soaps are a little less harsh. Don’t get me wrong, pure castile soap can be harsh, but it is an honest harsh, while detergents have chemical additives to soften after they’ve stripped you of your natural oils.

    Soap and Shampoo are BS in that we’ve been made to think that we need the harshest, prettiest smelling stuff we can find and should use it constantly. My goal is to minimize my chemical exposure while staying clean and healthy. To that end I shower every 2 or 3 days (unless I get very sweaty or dirty) and wash the stinky (stinky = bacteria) bits daily.

    I tried Dr. B’s as shampoo and couldn’t get my fingers through it even after conditioning. I’ve also tried ‘natural’ brand shampoos with similar results. Instead I’ve gone to a less harsh shampoo that strips less oil out. I can go 3, maybe 4 days without a shampooing (but I’ve never tried just putting in some conditioner after that). This is better than the almost daily need with a ‘poo that contained a lot of sodium laurel sulfate.

    As for deodorant, I’ve tried just using a little baking soda. It works pretty well if I’m not doing much, but moderate activity leaves me stinkier than I’d like. Personal preference.

    I guess my point is that you should know what you’re using on your body and the way you react to those things. You don’t need to smell pretty and be squeaky clean just because the smart marketing folks tell you you should. You also shouldn’t take the original post’s author as blanket gospel. Even if his no soaps method works for him, it might not work for you.

  43. I personally only use a very tiny bit of shampoo but I have short hair nowadays. I then use hypoallergenic baby body wash for the nasty bits.

    However, I did find this interesting documentary on not using any soap:

    1. I have a friend who used to tell that one all the time!
      Also, the long, long joke about the blue apples.

      1. My comment was directed at the “No soap, radio.” commenter.
        I wish BB had an automagic @so-and-so reply button. I’m lazy. ;)

  44. One of my favorite methods of showering is to give myself an oil scrub. I have one of those bath poufs dedicated to it. I pour a whole lot of jojoba oil onto the pouf and then scrub the hell out of my skin. I also like to douse my hair in jojoba oil and then wash it (so it is really moist, but not oily). I have incredibly sensitive skin and I’m allergic to nearly everything, so doing this is a real treat for me.

    I won’t go totally soap/shampoo-free though. a) I don’t have enough time away from people to be greasy and smelly long enough to normalize, and b) I agree with others here who have commented that the first thing they want to do after being away from “civilization” for a while (i.e. camping) is take a long, hot, soapy shower.

    I don’t think that ALL soap is “bad” for you — however, we do have a high dependence on cleansing products that we really don’t need. It’s one thing to be CLEAN; it’s another to be enveloped in a layer of chemical stink.

    …and what’s wrong with patchouli? I happen to think it’s quite OMNOMNOM (well, when used lightly, as a scent and not as a way to cover up a non-bathing problem).

    1. “…and what’s wrong with patchouli? I happen to think it’s quite OMNOMNOM (well, when used lightly, as a scent and not as a way to cover up a non-bathing problem).”

      All patchouli wearers imagine that they’re using it lightly, but no use could ever be light enough. A homeopathic application would still be massive overkill.

  45. I don’t think I could manage a week much less a month without using shampoo. Most days I have a mild body odor by the time I get home from work, and water probably isn’t going to cut it. And my hair is so oily after a single day I could probably wring it out and cook with it (well if my hair was longer anyway). I would say my dry scalp would probably improve, but that’s the only benefit I could see.

    Work in the yard for a couple hours when it’s 90F and 60% humidity, yeah I smell like a pile of sweaty clothes that have been sitting on the locker room floor for a week. Water isn’t going to fix that.

    Now my best friend rarely sweats. He might use deodorant in the summer, but that’s usually it. He smells fine. I personally don’t think it’d work for me. Good bacteria or not.

  46. I’m surprised noone has mentioned using a natural soap like Dr. Bronners. It uses all natural oils so I don’t think it causes the same kind of problems that chemically based soaps would. I use it wash my hair and body. I know people who use it to brush their teeth but I won’t go that far.

  47. i actually went shampoo-free a few months ago and i love it! no plans to go totally without soap, though. the hair thing is quite nice, however. currently, i wash my hair twice weekly with a baking soda solution followed by a vinegar solution. i’ll probably cut that back to once a week soon.

  48. I stopped brushing my teeth two years ago. It’s awesome! I can’t elaborate. You’ll just have to try.

  49. I’ve got bad skin and one of the best things I can do for it is to not take a shower for a couple days. If I’m alone for a weekend and needing to geek out on a report or get a paper written, I just don’t do it…and my skin is MUCH healthier for doing so.

    And for at least two weeks a summer, I go camping where the only bathing is in the rain or a river (which actually doesn’t hurt the skin as much a a normal shower for some reason)…but I can guarantee you, there is nothing that smells the same as a normal human about it.

    After two weeks in the wilderness, none of *US* complain about how we smell…but the first thing loved ones say is GET A F***ING SHOWER…NOW!!!

  50. Most of what sells as “soap” in the US is basically an industrial byproduct, with some artificial colors and scents. It clogs your pores and ends up caked to the walls of your shower or tub. Over a year ago, I switched to glycerin soaps exclusively. For awhile, it seemed like my skin dried out, but it was actually the unclogging of my pores! My skin readjusted after 3 weeks or so. Now I feel cleaner and healthier, and I have to clean my shower literally 1/10th as often! I buy the Whole Foods in-house brand of glycerin soap. Try to get a bunch of it when it’s on sale.

  51. Haven’t used soap in years. I’ve used gel body wash — gentler, leaves moisture in the skin. I shower pretty much every day, but with warm-hot water, never very hot water. I also towel gently, more patting than rubbing. Seems to work; I have pretty awesome skin.

    I shampoo lightly, every other day when I’m not going to work, try to rinse in cold water when I can, and hardly blow-dry. Best way to do it.

  52. I can totally vouch for what the author is saying. When I first had a shower with my girlfriend, she was kind of weirded out by my lack of product usage. No soap,shampoo maybe once a week, and I haven’t used deodorant since I was 16. She was like “How is it you don’t stink?!” I really think it has something to do with allowing one’s
    body chemistry to get back to it’s own equilibrium, instead of throwing it off all the time with surfactants and such. Although, when I cut down on using shampoo, my hair was pretty oily for about a month. It’s like growing a beard. once you get through, the gross homeless looking middle faze, it’s awesome.

  53. It was so cool to read that someone else is doing no soap/shampoo too. I’ve been soap free since 2000ish.

  54. I excercise and my hair gets incredibly sweaty. However on the advice of my hairdresser I’ve stopped using a harsh anti-dandruff shampoo everyday and just use it once a week or so.

    1. Dandruff shampoos are as likely to cause dandruff as to cure it. The active ingredients are highly irritating and allergenic. People get hooked in adolescence when dandruff is pretty normal. Instead of letting it run its course, the shampoo feeds the problem.

  55. I’m amazed by the people who have mostly stopped using shampoo but continue to use conditioner. I quit using conditioner (on my fine, straight hair) about 7 years ago, and my hair is much healthier. I really think it depends on your hair composition- conditioner weighed mine down, but others might need it to untangle their curls.

    Also, #77 FTW.

  56. I have a bar of soap and a bottle of shampoo. It’s very expensive soap because I like the scent and very inexpensive shampoo because I have extremely short and durable hair. Shower daily.

    Bar of soap cost me $6. Shampoo cost $3.

    Opened them both when I moved into the new place which was the end of August.
    $9 for 3 months. Actually I probably won’t need to open a new bar till the end of January. Call it 4 months.

    I’m a puppet of the cosmetics industry.

    1. Blaine, nobody is attacking your personal hygiene beliefs. People are just saying what works for them.

      All kidding aside, I don’t think this no-soap business will work for every body.

  57. I find this article very inspiring. I already use the “no soap in my private zone” policy, after being told by my Gyn that I should do this, and noticed a VERY relieved girl after only a few days of no soap! She’s been happy ever since, too :) I have always had skin allergies/problems/acne and feel so frustrated by soap and always think “the next soap I try will work. It has to!” all to no avail. I think I might just give this method a try! Thanks for the info.

  58. One thing I hate about shampoos/soaps is they all come in a squeeze container. Sometimes I squeeze too much, too little, drop the container and spill some. I got a fantastic econo size shampoo container and it’s brilliant. One pump, short hair, two pumps long hair. My hair tends to be dry and it’s true for most blondes, they have drier hair. But I’ve been trying to minimize the amount of shampoo I use and right now I’m down to like a quarter of a drinking shot glass. Shampoos are all chemical btw and you don’t need to scrub. My hair is fine with using very little. Some people with oily hair may need more etc. I wish toothpaste came in a pump container, I’m sure they exist, but should be standard. I’d also love to learn about how to make shampoo and toothpaste.

  59. All you need is a little balance. After many years of using shampoo+conditioner+whatnot and having bad, bad, frizzy, dry, weird hair, I quit using shampoo regularly about ten years ago now. Took my hair about half a year to “heal” – it’s all good now. Every now and then I use a little bit of soap or some shampoo if it’s really sweaty or dirty. My hair doesn’t smell bad either, and no, it’s not just me.

    Soap on the other hand – I use it only if I really need it. Mostly just showering with water… my skin got a lot better too when I cut down on the soap. But I keep washing my hands with soap at least once a day. I’m not afraid of germs, but I don’t want to deliberately be passing them on to other people…

  60. I tried going with no shampoo for over a month as a student whilst living at home. And my brother certainly noticed after a while – in particular, one instance when I was sitting on a beanbag watching some TV and my brother was standing behind me watching as well and he commented ‘What is that smell?’ and he identified it as coming from my hair.

    1. Pubescent (meaning ~ age 8 to 28) humans smell much worse than children and fully grown specimens. Just because you reeked at 18 doesn’t mean that you’ll reek at 30.

  61. @mdh #11 “If humans needed soap like we need tears, sweat, and phlegm, then we’d have a soap gland.”

    Question: if we needed clothes, would we have a clothes gland?
    For living in tight cohabitation (cities) do we activate a city gland?

    I know a few people who have done the no soap thing. Those with spouses eventually got forced to use soap. They themselves felt like they were soft, smooth and clean. Their spouses thought they stank.
    Those without spouses continue to stink because everyone is too polite and/or has stopped being in regular contact due to smell/health concerns.

    Fact is, we’re not designed to wear clothes, or to live in cities. As soon as we mess up how the body cleans off the fat, germs, salt and other interesting stuff then we have to compensate. If we don’t we start getting sicker. That’s not necessarily due to our own extra layer of crap, but rather if people in tight cohabitation do this we run the risk of getting more crap from the others who do this. Washing is not just for yourself, but for the community.

    1. I’ve had no complaints from mine and he would definitely complain. I do shower twice daily though, and one time is after exercise which flushes the pores with sweat, not to mention that I remove all my hair. I also do wear some fragrance, although I’ve never seen a need for deodorant. I often get complimented on my smell actually, which can be awkward.

      I think it has to do with how frequently you wash though, with or without soap. If you’re only washing once every few days you probably do have some funky smell.

  62. Through personal experience, I would say that scrubbing is much healthier than using soap. And also, I would say that soap is a TOOL for removing grime and excess oil, not something you should just slather over your body. I use soap and shampoo, but not very much, but I scrub with a little loofah thing on spots that get really oily. This helps reduce skin sensitivity, at least in my experience. Honestly, from a scientific perspective, a little bit of soap can be used to wash the whole body. Soap doesn’t lose its power just because it was used to wash one part. Anyone heard of moderation?

  63. I grew up in Western Massachusetts, went to the Center School in Greenfield, and got dragged to all manner of Traprock Peace Center events, so I hope I know a little bit about the venn diagram marking out “best of intentions” and “no soap”. My observation is that no-soapers smell very human (and to be fair, there’s a huge crossover of garlic overconsumption here) which isn’t BAD per se, but it can be annoying. Close conversations in August with a longhaired Colrain resident? Scalpy, like an old knit cap or a distant renn faire. One gets used to the mild parmesan funk, but it never goes away. This I suppose says more about what society expects “good” to smell like, and I for one am willing to accept that. One needn’t slather on the chemistry, but there’s plenty of natural products to take the edge off.

  64. I did the no-shampoo thing for 6 weeks in college. My chronic-but-mild dandruff turned horribly thick, greasy, and clumpy. I was completely unable to wear anything other than white t-shirts.

    Stopped that pretty quickly.

    1. @geeboss I shower daily, but don’t use any soap anywhere, and my (Japanese, extremely fastidious about hygiene and appearance) girlfriend of 6 months doesn’t have any complaints. Physical proximity to me hasn’t EVER been an issue for her. That answer your question? ;)

      Hair is another matter. I have very fine and very curly hair. I rinse it thoroughly with water daily, but only shampoo it every 2 weeks or so. I find that even expensive moisturising shampoos and conditioners take all the moisture out of it and leave it fluffy and dry for days, so I use an expensive shampoo and conditioner only as often as I have to – ie. once the texture starts to get a bit unpleasant.

  65. Without soap I’d become rapidly covered with eczema and become sort of a scratch and sniff guy I guess.

    1. You are the first person I’ve known ever with eczema to claim that without soap, you get covered with eczema. Do you really have eczema?
      The first thing people with eczema do is to abolish soap. Soap strips your skin of oils. Oils protect your skin and people with eczema or atopic dermatitis seem to have bigger pores than average and the skin gets very dry easily.
      You use either shower gel or cleanser. I used to wash every day and I’ve toned that down and my skin has improved. Regular use of fish oil has also helped my eczema as well as asthma.

      One thing, hair will transmit smells especially down there and under your armpits. That’s why it’s down there to spread your musky scent. I keep my armpits very bare and trim the hair down there. It also helps with the smell if you exfoliate. The skin cells on the upper layer of the dermis can also clump together contributing to smell.
      You often have to exfoliate and remove shedded skin on your scalp which might not rinse off if you just run water over it. The skin cells can also clog your pores leading to an overproduction of sebum. It might be why those who went without shampoo are complaining their hair still smelled and was still really oily. Clogged pores. Baking soda is very good for exfoliating and helps neutralize smells (that’s why it’s recommended to put in a dustbin or in your fridge).

      Dandruff shampoos are a waste of time and money. The only one I’ve noticed which actually helps is Neutrogena Coal Tar. My scalp reacts to normal shampoo anyway. Apple cider vinegar before wetting the hair helps. It’s best to get one that really smells of apples, not all apple cider vinegars are the same, if you get a cheap one, you will reek of vinegar.

      Tea tree oil is also good for the scalp and dandruff as it has anti fungal properties or use a rosemary rinse (easy, get dried rosemary, steep in boiling hot water for at least 15 minutes. You can steep for longer if you want. The mixture gets stronger the longer you leave it. Hours, days). Rosemary rinses help with excess oil, dandruff and smell lovely.

      1. I’m the second person you “know” who breaks out in eczema if soap – not detergent – is omitted from the daily routine. Granted, I typically use a soap made from Dead Sea mud (no, I’m not being sarcastic) which helps keep my skin from breaking out. I have tiny pores, and I’m allergic to Coal Tar soap, as well as the emulsifiers in liquid cleansers. You were right on the baking soda, though: I put gobs of it in the bath and soak in it for a while (soaking baths required for another in the litany of health issues I have).

        Also, I wonder how many of the “I don’t use soap-ers” are male vs make-up wearing females? If I don’t use some type of cleanser on my face to remove the make-up, then my skin breaks out in pimples, which then irritate the under-control eczema, etc… I don’t wear a lot of make-up, either.

  66. I haven’t bathed in several years. When I feel the need to clean myself, I lie naked next to a fire ant nest, and allow the wonderful formicidae to harvest my excretions for their nutrition. This process is wonderfully invigorating, and I heartily recommend that everyone try it out. It may take a few weeks of adjustment to get used to, but I assure you the attempt alone is worth it.

    1. i have to agree. i am typing as i bathe right now, but i don’t have to worry about being electrocuted; not in my dry tub. i just lie back and luxuriate as millions of maggots crawl in and around my body feasting on skin flakes while massaging the stress away with their gentle rhythmic movements. eczema, psoriasis, and dandruff were a constant problem, now they are a thing of the past. thanks dry tub!

  67. I use shampoo and conditioner on my hair, and I wash my hands with soap, but I very rarely use soap on my body. It’s weird reading people say that they never thought to not use soap, because I’m completely the reverse: I never thought TO use soap. The few times I have used soap on my body, it makes my skin feel weirdly stretched and, afterwards, very dry.
    As I don’t use soap or cleansers on my face, I also very rarely use moisturiser. My skin is often commented on as being soft and healthy.
    As for smell, I have both friends who use soap and friends who don’t. In terms of just the smell of their skin, there is no significant difference (unless you’re wearing a lot of perfume, of course). This is not to say that I can’t smell them at all because I’m somehow wallowing in human musk – they do have unique scents, but they are very subtle.
    When I moved in with my housemate, we talked about buying mutual ‘house’ items that we’d both use. He brought up soap, and I said I didn’t use it except for my hands. He was very surprised to learn this, because I didn’t smell horrible.
    A lot of people here seem to be confusing ‘don’t use soap’ with ‘don’t wash’. I wash every day, for the same amount of time as my housemates. I just don’t use soap.
    I’ve been considering going shampoo free for a while now, but my partner has specified that if it stinks long after it’s supposed to have settled down, I’m back on the products. At the moment, he says he doesn’t notice me smelling any different to anyone else, except that I don’t reek of chemical perfume or body sprays.

  68. I can’t stop thinking about that Modest Mouse song:
    “The whole world stinks so no one’s taking showers anymore.”

  69. My face is the only place I don’t use soap (haven’t for more than 10 years). The reason is my face skin is very sensitive (gets irritated and red easily). Soap only washes out the natural protection. I put Aloe on it while my face is still wet after washing and that leaves a clear protective and moisture-lockin-barrier layer that also sooths the skin and keeps it from getting irritated and red.

  70. As someone who once had to go two weeks between showers, I can attest to the fact that yes, you will stink like a corpse. You will attract flies and repulse your fellow man. It’s one thing to avoid all the superfluous pap the marketing scum tries to sell us, but it’s wholly another thing to simply stop cleaning your body. I’d say it’s a sign of madness creeping in, if you’re doing it willfully.

  71. I can’t believe people are still ranting about “BIG SOAP” as if it’s a huge masonic conspiracy.

    COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT OF THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY people have been bathing with soap since the fats from human sacrifice first met up with the rivers they soaked in.

    Reasonable bathing with soap is extremely hygienic.
    Certain soaps dry the skin out more than others.
    People overuse some hygiene products.
    Some people are allergic to more caustic detergents.

    Now, I don’t see how any of this leads one to, instead of going for more natural products or not overproduct-ing their body, say “I will stop using all hygiene products”. It’s a willfully naive and unscientific/historic view to complain that people “had it right” in the past. Somehow you’ve failed in life to read up on what life was like before modern nutrition and germ theory.

    I’m glad things are working out for you all with the personal anecdotes and people not being able to tell but the wide-sweeping claims are just ridiculously ungrounded in reality.

  72. It’s true and it’s false.

    The true part is that your body secretes oils and things. If you use soap to wash them away, then your body will create a lot more. If you don’t wash it away, your body will ease up, and you won’t be as greasy.

    The false part is that there is more nasty crap on you besides your own grease. Walk around outside and all sorts of particles will get in your hair and on your skin. Do some exercise, and you will sweat. Water alone will wash away some of that, but not all.

    Sure, you might feel clean, maybe you won’t smell, but you’ll have other problems big time. We’re talking about fungi and parasites my friend. Hello ringworm, and maybe even lice or worse.

    Also, even if you manage not to stink, smelling like soap is even better. It’s like you can have bad breath, no odor breath, or minty fresh breath. I’ll take the minty, ahhh!

  73. “You’ll just have to try it, because I’m not going to elaborate.”

    No offense to the author, but what are we, five years old and in Sunday school? The average age of your blog readership is most certainly higher and mature enough to handle the discussion of privates without giggling uncontrollably.

    This was, to me, a smelly bastard, the part of the process I was most interested in learning more about.

    I guess I’ll have to take the plunge in 2010.

  74. My freshman year zoology teacher explained about how our bodies can clean themselves, but we wash off all of the oils with our soaps. I figured I’d give it a try, even though he seemed kinda wacky. I showered just as often as before, but didn’t use soap or shampoo (however, I’m bald and keep my head shaved). I did that for over 7 years, and people didn’t seem to mind. My skin and scalp seemed to be great, and I actually found that I could stop using deodourant. I think the important thing is still to be clean, and wash regularly, just not with soap. Eventually, I started work at a sewage treatment plant, so soap became mandatory.

  75. So, did you guys notice how many people are home on their computers on New Years Eve talking about not washing their hair and using soap?! Pretty sad (yes, me too, as I sat and read all this for the last 20 minutes). I digress, I do notice that when I wash my hair less (twice a week now) it seems to be less oily. My scalp was wicked dry for a long time and so my hairdesser suggested washing it less often in cold water, use more conditioner than shampoo, and try not to blow dry. Seems to be working. As for no soap? I don’t know if I dare to do that one!

  76. Soap is just a fatty acid mixed with a base. Inherently it is basic in pH and the final act of washing with it pretty much neutralizes it. People who don’t wash with soap, be it either body and/or hair, might feel that they reach an equilibrium, but really they are now huge vectors for bacteria. You might not think you stink, but you do, and that’s just how it is.

  77. Interesting. I’ll consider trying to go without soap for a while.
    I know that using less shampoo really helped me. I used to have a huge dandruff problem. We’re talking about people thinking it snowed outside when they saw me. Then I read somewhere that most shampoo actually contains ingredients that cause dandruff. I cut down from washing my hair with anti-dandruff shampoo once a day to washing my hair with a bit of liquid soap once a week and only rinsing it with water every other day. I have so little dandruff now, it isn’t noticable anymore (everyone obviously always has some dandruff). I went from “white christmas” to a “few grains of salt on a black t-shirt you need to look real closely at”.
    I think it has to with the ingredients of shampoo. And it also dries out the skin even more if you use it regularly.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar was going on with soap, though I’ll admit I am worried about the odour.

  78. Question: what do people around you think of this ‘soap-free diet’ ? My wife tells me that her former boyfriend never used soap but took two boiling hot showers a day. And he stank of sweat.

  79. I have been soap free as long as I can remember. I still use it if I have some grease or engine oil stuck to me. I work in construction so some times there are some things stuck to me that won’t come off without some chemical persuasion. Other wise any soap at all just makes my skin dry and itchy. I don’t stink either, that’s what deodorant is for duh! I have not managed to go shampoo free, not sure why that is so hard to do.

  80. @#109: You managed to squeak that comment in just under the wire for the Best Comment of 2009 award.

  81. Soap or shampoo doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” sort of deal. You can adjust your product usage based on ACTUAL personal need, rather than an overall philosophy of stringent use or non-use. If you’re dirty or you feel or smell unclean to yourself or others, why not hit the shower with a bar and a bottle and get scrubbing? If you are pretty clean and just need to maintain that clean, why slather yourself in harsh cleansers when a good wash in plain ol’ hot water will do fine? Not everyone or everyday has the same kind of dirty factor. If you’re dirty, take the appropriate amount of action. If you’re pretty clean, take the appropriate amount of action. It’s not complicated. Why add more rules or ideals to your life to regulate something as simple as basic hygiene? This sounds like a situation where common sense and moderation are much better ideas than making a ridgid policy for yourself. No need to be a soap tee-totaller. No need to be a soap lush. Just be sensible.

  82. ….and what about chlorine? Is it in your water or not?
    Some very interesting points on this site. Still, my 90 year old neighbour only baths once a week, not a good smell (I understand that’s not the same as bathing every day without soap).

  83. I’m really fascinated by how threatened people seem to be by this topic; there’s very little of the usual BB counter-culture feel going on here.

    Due to a problem with sensitive skin when I was younger, I’ve avoided using soap or shampoo for over twenty years now. I wash regularly with plain water and use a little deodorant, and I don’t smell, and neither does my hair. If I get oil or dirt on me then sure, some soap helps, but otherwise, it’s unnecessary for cleaning purposes. I wash my hands with soap for hygiene reasons, but that’s it.

    When people comment on the lack of toiletries in my bathroom, and I explain this to them, it comes as a total surprise to them. This includes new girlfriends and old college friends, so if I really did have an odour problem I was unaware of, I’m sure I’d have had plenty of comments.

    There’s a lot of strangely stereotypical anecdotes here about hippy-types who don’t wash and smell, but you generally find that people who smell do so because their clothes need washing, not their bodies. Most of us who work indoors, in a nice office environment, don’t really need soap to keep clean. And I’ve still not got lice or ringworm!

  84. @sapere:
    I believe everyone in the discussion has said they wash their hands with soap. With that in place, what specific diseases are you thinking about? I can’t offhand think of anything where a modest difference in how clean your body and hair is in the morning would make the slightest difference in infection risk for those around you.

  85. @djn #130: Any disease that can be spread by hand can potentially be spread by any exposed skin. Perhaps if you routinely wear clean clothing that covers everything except your face and hands, then hand washing and face washing alone would probably be sufficient to protect you and the people you come in contact with from germs. But, on a hot summer day, how many people do you routinely encounter who have no exposed skin other than their face and hands?

    @Antinous #131: There’s a big difference between a person’s natural “musk” (for lack of a better word) and body odor. Body odor is caused by bacteria living on your skin. Pure sweat is almost odorless. But bacteria drink the sweat, then they pee on you, and what you smell as body odor is actually bacteria pee. Get rid of the bacteria, and you get rid of the B.O. That’s why I like to mop down my pits, crotch, and the soles of my feet with rubbing alcohol after showering, to kill any germs that didn’t get washed off in the shower. But the best way to get rid of the bacteria that cause B.O. is to shower with soap and water. (Actually, experts recommend that you first soak in a tub of hot water for a while, then shower with soap and water; but who has the time to do that on a daily basis?) If you don’t want to cover up your natural “musk”, you can get unscented soap. That will remove the germs that cause disease and B.O. but will still allow the “real you” to smell through. :-)

    1. @sapere:
      I will admit that I live in one of those chilly countries where the shorts / t-shirt season corresponds well to the summer holidays. Put another way, I don’t encounter too many hot summer days. ;)

      Not that it matters. The risk with hands is that we touch a lot of surfaces during the day, and pick up bacteria from all of them that we then transfer further. That’s not exactly the case for my overarms.

      1. @djn: I envy you. I actually prefer cool weather; but where I live the summers are always long, and oppressively hot and humid. For about half of the year I can expect to see lots of people wearing shorts. And, for at least 3 months out of the year, most of those folks are sweating profusely. Believe me, if you have to sit in a seat that was just vacated by a sweaty person wearing shorts, you really hope that he showered good that morning. :-)

        It’s interesting that the last several times I’ve caught a respiratory infection (cold, flu, strep throat) it has been during warm weather when people are wearing less and sweating more, rather than in cold weather when people are wearing more and sweating less. So, maybe what qualifies as adequate personal hygiene varies depending on the climate. Maybe soap is more essential in hot, humid climates than it would be in cold, dry climates.

    2. That’s why I like to mop down my pits, crotch, and the soles of my feet with rubbing alcohol after showering, to kill any germs that didn’t get washed off in the shower.

      I think at this point that we can all acknowledge that you do your washing under a bridge.

  86. i tried not washing my hair for 3 weeks once in during a New Zealand backpacking jaunt. My boyfriend (now husband) assured me my hair would eventually become amazingly silky. instead i looked like an oil slick, my mom actually cried at the airport when she picked me up.

  87. I could learn to live with a bit more heat and light, I think – it gets annoying to go to work in sheer darkness while it’s so cold that you can feel your nose hairs freezing to the skin when you breathe in. The way I end up spending a long while in a warm shower every morning to thaw out is also something I’d give up in a heartbeat. :)

    And hmm, I would be careful with the correlation/casuation there. You might be right, but it could also easily be other effects – maybe higher temperatures makes droplet-spread germs more viable? Maybe there’s just more people around? Maybe that’s when the new exciting strains come in with the tourists?
    (I tend to get sick in the winter, for what it’s worth.)

  88. I just got out of the shower and clicked this post. I don’t know if it’s necessary or not but I’d miss daily scrubbing with exfoliating mitts and soap if I stopped. It just feels good. And with my ridiculously dense hair my scalp itches if I skip a day of shampoo. Yes, the cosmetics and soap industries plot, shame and manipulate us into wasting billions on visions of perfection but that doesn’t mean that body cleaners don’t have useful functions for efficient personal maintenance.

    1. You can still scrub without the soap. And it’s actually a good idea to scrub to exfoliate skin cells off that can clog up your pores and bacteria feed off the skin cells.

  89. On the cleanliness issue, the building where I work installed a bunch of hand sanitizing stations. Curious about the product, I ordered a MSDS. The stuff is 70% ethanol. A liter bag of it has as much alcohol as a quart of Bacardi 151. They were initially heavily used, then abruptly tapered off when lots of people complained of chapping. I tested the stuff and it’s great for starting a small fire in a hurry, de-ices car windshields and tastes awful.

  90. Have never used soap in shower, wash my armpits and privates with water every morning-shower and use shampoo every 4 days. Tried shampooing more often, but got worse result than 4-day delay.
    Have a strong sense of smell and neither I or any one else complain over me having body odor.

    Of course you should wash your hands before a meal, but water alone is a excellent solvent, the rest you have the immune system for.

    Might add that I or any relatives have any allergies and we all live by similar hygiene-standards (We range from Doctors to Biologist to students).
    Another common factor is eating healty home-cooked organically grown food. It works wonders for your immune system:]

  91. I use soap (only soap no oil perfume junk) on my hands, armpits and face as necessary. I wash my hair with soap once in a blue moon as I have dreads. I don’t go near my private bits with soap. Most girls know it’s a bad idea to soap those bits up! especially with any sort of perfume – they are beautifully ‘self cleaning’.
    @ sapere_aude | #48 – many of us don’t want to smell hair spray, perfume, left over body wash residue etc either. I think the comparison of yelling fire and smelly icky to those with special scentsibiliies is a bit of a hyperbole.

  92. Richard Nikoley, I guess this a case of ‘smelling is believing’. Simply claiming that you don’t wreak is not objective enough.

    Whilst I think that cosmetics and perfumes are overly used in modern society, often to compensate for our insecurities, I still think that a little bit of shampoo and shower gel, used in moderation, is healthy.

    I suppose at the end of the day it’s a free country… And if you stink I reserve the right to tactfully inform you :)

  93. I haven’t used shampoo for years. Literally, at least ten years.
    I have thick curly hair down to my shoulders.
    If I get sap or something in it, I use chandrika soap or bit of dr. bronners.
    I’ve never heard any complaints about it smelling, but then I don’t go into smokey bars or work in a fried food stall.
    I do like washing my hands with soap after using the toilet though, especially if it’s a public restroom

  94. Does anyone do laundry without using detergent?
    Wash dishes without using soap?

    Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean it’s the best solution.

  95. Some people seem to have misread the post: it’s not that he stopped washing, it’s that he washed with water alone (no soap). Unless you’re dirty with grease, stains, and what not, water alone works quite well. I still use shampoo (though after reading this I’m rethinking that), but shower and bathe with water alone. No odor, my wife assures me. I do note that my life is mostly sedentary.

  96. I’ve seen what the limescale in the water does to taps and tiles here. No way am I leaving that on my skin! (London)

  97. To go along with the “I’m not a hippy and hate Patchouli” sentiment I’m in that boat. However I almost never use soap in my showering. I shower every day at least once, sometimes more, and am somewhat of a freak about keeping clean. I am often complimented on how well I smell, even when I haven’t put on oils (I use one small drop of ambrosia oil mixed with essence of amber on each wrist, and one on my neck). And even on the days I’ve been to rushed to shower and said “screw it” I still got those comments. It has more to do with your natural body odor than the soap you use. If you need those perfumes and scents to mask your natural body odor, then use them. Nobody is stopping you. Just don’t assume that others who don’t, or can’t, smell like a homeless person. I don’t due to doctors orders from when I was a child. Honestly if I use soap more than once a week my eczema gets so bad my skin literally cracks and bleeds. I can’t use anything that has perfumes or dyes in it for washing my clothes or hands either. It’s a real pain in the butt.

    However the shampoo thing doesn’t work out so well for me. I’ve tried just cutting back to twice a week, then once after time, but my hair stayed greasy and nasty, and while my scalp cries injustice at the mildest of shampoos, I still use them.

    As for those supporting the “natural body odor” thing, I agree to a degree. I know a man who doesn’t shower regularly, and I mean like once every few months, and while he looks greasy, he doesn’t smell bad! He looks greasy, but not dirty, that’s the other weird thing. On the flip side of this I had a coworker who smelled so bad that management actually had to take him aside due to complaints. I heard from a friend of his that the whole thing hurt his feelings because he would shower every morning before work, and had prescription deodorant but he couldn’t get rid of the smell. It was some kind of chemical imbalance that made him reek. And it was terrible. So the personal body chemistry is the real culprit here, not the soap, or the shampoo.

  98. It’s funny, I didn’t bother reading all the coments, but see a clear line for and against the soap issue.
    I myself have not regularly used soap or shampoo on a regular basis for many years. I am often told I smell good or feel soft and do not generally get any comments unless I wear some patchouli.
    I wash my clothes, brush my teeth, use pomade in my hair and essential oils to smell nice. I occasionally use some doc Bonners when I think it might have been too long, but I typically regret it.
    My wife seems to think I have a soft and nice smelling pelt, so there you go…

  99. Someone i know used to keep a dish of regular table salt by the tub and scrub with a palm-full of that, sometimes, while in the shower, because soap dried her skin out too much. She may have also put a little lavender oil in it or something like that. I’ve tried it, and it works fine for de-stinkifying oneself. The salt grains also have an abrasive quality, before they dissolve, that removes dirt.

  100. I seem to remember a news article from a while back… A middle school did a lesson on handwashing and found that soap and water for thirty seconds was only slightly more effective that thirty seconds of vigorous scrubbing with no soap. Can’t find it now.

    Here’s the CDC’s guidelines on how to wash your hands. This is official gov’t policy folks….

  101. I went for nearly 3 years without shampooing, but I had short hair at the start. After letting my hair grow out for 2 years, it suddenly became unmanageably oily. I tried rinsing with vinegar but to no avail. I think the weight of one’s hair stimulates oil production, but that’s just a guess from personal experience. I was “normalized” until my hair grew out. oh well.

  102. While back packing I have not showered or washed for 2 months or more if I could swim in the sea most every day. My body returns to a natural balance with no odour. Hair and skin feel great.

  103. “I seem to remember a news article from a while back… A middle school did a lesson on handwashing and found that soap and water for thirty seconds was only slightly more effective that thirty seconds of vigorous scrubbing with no soap. Can’t find it now.”

    Wow, thanks to sixth grade we no longer need hygeine standards. Thanks for the science lesson, duder.

  104. Now about six weeks into shampoo and soap free regime… My psoriasis has almost all disappeared (and I have had it for about five years!!!) My (long) hair is clean, healthier than it has been for years, and not greasy… (though I massage a few drops of lavender oil into it once a week too.) No sodium laural sulphate is obviously something my body enjoys! People are commenting on how healthy my hair looks!
    And as for intimate places, well, use a bee-day after the toilet if you can or one of those new spray devices. There is nothing better than water to wash your ass! Never really understood the principle of using paper which will never truly clean you!

    Haven’t gone onto a no underarm deodorant regime as yet though…

  105. For the most part of what i’ve read of these comments, it seems that no-one has yet addressed that a persons state of health and diet is the major contributer to body odours. You can be a person that bathes, shampoos and deodorises regularly but still stink offensively to high heaven from poor food choices, lack of fruit and veg, too much processed junk and the degenerative diseases developed. On the other hand, you can be a person who is physically active on a daily basis, eats only fresh food, lightly cooked meats and seafoods, avoids grain foods (because we are NOT birds) and smell perfectly fine from not using cosmetics and soaps, etc. To determine/decide if another potential mates’ odour was offensive or not is one of many important evolutionary ‘tools’ to ensure that humans mated with other humans who were in good health with good genes. Cosmetics were originally developed to mask a persons poor health, rather than making the effort to improve their health (more like ignorance in the face of decadence). We almighty Human Beings forget that we are just another animal on this planet, and how many of them (animals) do you see using processed foods, soaps and clothing? Compare the health of a chimpanzee (our closest biological relative) to most humans, these chimps are much better off than we are without our modern vices. We apply chemicals to our skin, eat food from sources that are not digestable in their natural state, technology that does all our moving/movement for us, yet still have it in our heads that we are ‘smarter’ than other living organisms on this planet. Our sense of ‘smart’ seems like a hell of a lot of ‘stupid’ to me. If our animal friends shared the same voice and could point and laugh, we would never hear the end of it, except we are HARMING THEM in all these processes

  106. The next logical step after this is washing one’s clothes without detergent. I’m thinking this would have to be done with hot water (much as showering without soap & shampoo wouldn’t be culturally sustainable without access to hot water). I’m very curious to find out how this would play out. Has anyone already done experiments with it?

  107. A friend of my cousin used to just shower without products and he was not smelly.
    He had girlfriends who got closer than I or another guy would so for SOME people it seems to work.
    He did have THREE showers a day on average but was quick each time.

    I have tried the “just water” showering method for about 4 weeks and must confess that I was stinky for the duration.

    The hair on my head however DID seem to balance itself out after the first two weeks and I now wash my hair less.

  108. We are family of five. No soap or shampoo except for hand washing for 10 years and no problems. I still enjoy hot showers though. If I worked in a coal mine I would consider it, but I don’t get very dirty sitting in an office all day.

  109. I have been soap/shampoo free for a couple of months now. I found this site by googling to see if anyone else has tried this, and what their results were.

    I started by going chemical free… using baking soda, and vinegar instead of cleaning products to clean my house with… I was impressed to say the least. Then I got the idea that I wanted to stop using chemicals on my body, so I tried it, and haven’t gone back. I shower every day, just water and a loofa or wash cloth to wash with, and a couple times a week I like to take a sea salt bath. I use pure almond oil to soften my skin during the winter months. I don’t have any B O, and my husband often asks me if I am wearing a new perfume, because I smell great :)

  110. I’ve been doing the no soap thing for a little while now, and I do need to stress to the skeptics that there is a huge difference between not using soap and not bathing altogether.

    I’m not a “hippie” type or anything like that (in fact, I’m very anti-hippie.) I have extremely sensitive skin, and I was just sick of soaps drying my skin out and shower gels/moisturizers causing it to feel slick and oily, so I decided to try this as an experiment. I still take a shower every morning when I wake up and a second one in the evening if I absolutely have sweated to death during the day, and I still continue to use a talc-based antiperspirant deodorant (just in case.)

    I’ve not had any problems with body odor since I stopped using soap, so long as I still take a shower and wash thoroughly. I won’t stop shampooing my hair completely, as it is extremely oily and not washing with shampoo causes it to just get worse over time (I tried going without it for two weeks with the initial “no soap” attempt and there was no balance out at the end, it just stayed oily and gross.) I do, however, wash it only every other day rather than every single day. My hair is healthier and stronger that way, as shampooing every day made it more brittle because I was over-cleaning it.

    The no soap/no shampoo thing doesn’t work for everyone though: it really depends on your skin and hair type. Some people will see success and some will continue to smell or have oily hair, it’s just a matter of that person’s physiology. If you want to give it a shot, make sure you stick to showering, even without the soap. And I’d suggest continuing to use deodorant for a little while until you’re 100% for sure that you no longer smell (use a friend or other third party to gauge this, and make sure they’re honest!)

  111. Well, I did it. Started in the new year. It is now the first day of February.
    For all of the many of you who write that you just cannot do it, it was not that difficult.
    No soap, no shampoo. Just water, and just once a day (for testing purposes).
    Just to be clear, let me state that I exercise quite a bit (marathon runner). And if I get warm at night, I will sweat. It is not as if I avoid using my pores as they were intended.

    So, now for the results.
    I do not think I use any more water than before.
    I have only one day when I thought I ‘smelled’ more pungent than normal. Nobody said anything if they noticed. Though my sense of smell seems to be a bit more particular than most others.
    I have told people that I am trying this experiment, and have asked them if I ”smell’ bad, or any more than normal. Nope; apparently I still smell nice.
    My skin was already fairly soft, and not too oily/not too dry. And a month later, it is still in a very good state.
    My hair feels about the same as before, but I usually keep it fairly short, so I am not a great candidate for the ‘flowing locks’ study.

    I am planning to go a few more weeks. But for now, I personally think one can easily curtail the use of soaps and shampoos, if you want to try. I am pretty sure the marketing machines of the multi-billion dollar personal products industry do not want this idea to catch on (especially in this job market when even snake-oil salespeople might have trouble finding another job).
    Maybe you should give it a try. Maybe soap and shampoo every other shower or so.

    Let us know. I’d be willing to read more from those who have actually tried this, and less of the whinging from those who have opinions with no experience.

  112. A galvanizing issue! I’m somewhere between. I’ve been avoiding soap on my body for about a decade, but I still get dry skin and require the use of lotion on my arms and legs. I wash my hands with soap when cooking or handling food, but I don’t wash them regularly otherwise. I know, I probably should.

    I don’t use antibacterial gels, but without shampoo my hair gets really, really oily. In fact what happens is that rather than taking shampoo breaks, I take conditioner breaks. It’s weird that my face and scalp would be oily while the rest of my body is bone dry, don’t you think?

    Anyway, to each their own. I think it depends on the person, since everyone’s skin is different.

  113. Like #174, I started with the new year. I have very sensitive skin, and I told a couple of the women I work with that I had become allergic to my hypoallergenic deodorant (true) and had decided to try not wearing it (also true). I asked them to please tell me if I smelled bad.
    So far, there was one day that I myself felt like I smelled “gamey,” but no one else has spoken up, even though I asked them to.
    I work out regularly (3x/week), and shower about every day.

    My eczema has improved, and the skin on my face is probably the same or better than it was before. I’m not sure how the odor will be in the summer (I live in the Northeast US), and I’m not sure what I’ll do when I have sunblock to wash off, but for now, I think I’ll continue to go without soap except in extreme circumstances. As others have mentioned, it’s not like I’m a coal miner.
    I’m actually a microbiologist, so I wash my hands a lot at work, and I’ve noticed that they seem drier and more irritated than usual, so I have used some creme on my hands. (And no, I’m not worried about the bacteria.)

    The hair was gross around week 2, then got somewhat better. It’s shoulder-length, and I usually put it up, so it hasn’t been a big problem aesthetically. I’m going to try going without shampoo for two more weeks, but if it doesn’t get better I’ll probably revert to shampoo use once or twice a week.

    Anyway, I’d call it an interesting experience. For those who are worried about the “normalization” period, in my experience, it wasn’t that bad. Nobody noticed.

  114. I’ ve been dating this guy for nearly 2 months now and I had enough of this.

    He showers everyday, but without soap and he uses shampoo once week. He doesn’t use any deodorant(!!!) or perfumes. Of course, to his own belief he doesn’t stink. Moreover, he thinks he smells nice and soft and his skin is healthy & beautiful, because he’s a vegetarian and he eats very healthy.

    And this is really not the case. HE STINKS. Yes. REALLY.
    I told him that and he said he can’t smell anything bad. He refuses to use soap (because its sooo unhealthy), but he said he will consider using a deo, still he haven’t bought one though.

    He’s in his 30s now and still has quite a bad acne. He also doesn’t use any facial cosmetics, like cleansing gels, lotions, moisturizers etc., just water. He thinks it’s bad for the skin and he believes that he gets those yellow zits from eating butter and other fats (though he doesn’t eat any). On top of that he already got wrinkles, like he was around 50, his skin is extremely dry and rough. But of course no creams allowed.

    I feel like a mother of a 5 year old, when I tell him to wash his body with soap and use a deo. All this got me really disgusted.

    Besides is there anything nicer then being held in strong arms of a beautifully smelling men? (and beautifully smelling I mean some nice perfumes, not the ‘natural scent’)

  115. Hi All,

    I just want to reiterate what others have said, there is a big difference between not using soap and not bathing at all. The latter will definitely leave you stinky!

    I have now been shampoo free for several months, soap free on my face for a couple of months and soap free on my body for little more than a month.

    For those of you who think this choice is only for the patchoulli crowd, think again. I wear a suit to work most days and have to give public presentations on a regular basis. Believe me, I’d hear about it if my appearance was anything but professional – which includes clean and odor free!

    I had heard of the No Poo concept when taking an environmental education course and was, at first, appalled. Then I decided the worst thing that could happen was that I didn’t like it and I started using shampoo again. I chose to use baking soda and vinegar, which was well recommended. See
    for how to do this.

    It does require some getting used to (no suds), which turned out to be more of a psychological issue than a real one.

    Within a couple of weeks my hair began to get very soft, and has continued to stay that way. It is also not dry and fly-away as it was before. I have been able to completely eliminate all hair products and maintain a professional look. I also get a lot of comments on my “beautiful” hair. The platinum color really shines with this method. Even my hairdresser commented on the health of my hair, although she wasn’t too thrilled when I told her what I was doing. No more expensive hair products!

    After such great results, I thought I’d take another step. Washing my face with oil, rather than using cleansers, toners and moisturizers. I followed a recipe from and, again, fabulous results. My skin is soft and radiant, with the added bonus of softer hands from doing the oil massage before I go to bed. I’ve had people comment on how great my skin looks and ask what I’ve been doing. When I tell them, most are not excited about giving it a try. I’m pretty sure some don’t believe me. Oh well.

    Since I was two for two, I decided to take the plunge and remove soap from my showering. Sofar, it is great! My niece (who had no idea I’ve been doing this) gave me a hug the other day and said, “Wow! You smell so fresh!” Needless to say she was shocked when I told her what I was doing.

    I haven’t had any issue with BO, unless I work out really hard for a long period of time – like a vigorous hike of several hours. Also, if I drink a lot of coffee it makes my sweat smell. But, that happened when I was using soap, too.

    I’m pleased and amazed at the results of this experiment. I feel great, I look great, and I use the money saved on skin and hair care products to get a nice massage. Much more fun!

    I encourage you to give it a go.

  116. Okay here is my experience since reading this article in January 2011
    it is now almost May so 4 months. Also i have short hair and have never really had BO to bad when i still used shampoo and soap. Also i would not consider myself a hippie.

    So for the first week i was kind of gross, but by showering everyday, my hair was not so greasy. Now i shower everyday w/o shampoo or soap, just water, and i am very glad in not doing this. I do not smell any worse than anyone else, though however i have not noticed a very distinct difference. I would say i am at the same cleanlinesses level as anyone who was washing with product.
    two downsides would be
    -when i was showering twice a day, once after working out, i had bad dadruff, which is still have, and could not use head and shoulders
    -if i cant shower, i cant just use deoderant to cover it up
    -oh and also explaining to people if they find out
    -apparently healthier
    -traveling is easier
    -never need to have product
    -quicker showers

    just think about people who have dreads, they dont use shampoo. It really isn’t that gross. When you smell bad, it is true that you havent used soap, but you also havent showered. Water works fine.

  117. Peoples are foolish , sorry but its true. You eat all kind of crap , animals meat being one of the worst of it , the lifelong ongoing putrefaction of the meat makes your sweat odor repugnant and unattractive. Then you cover the scent with chemicals , going as far as destroying your sweat glands with alluminium deodorants ( which do more damage than this as this enter your bloodstream ). You buy all the assortments of poisons carefully created to weaken your existance , to cover the unpleasant results of your unhealthy diets. A vicious circle created by those who only wish to control you.

  118. There’s a difference between not washing and not washing with added chemicals. Seven and a half months ago I replaced shampoo with my bare hands and body soap with a body brush. My hair stopped being greasy and dandruffy to become soft, flakeless and voluminous, and my acne cleared up leaving my skin softer and clearer than ever. I used to get horrible body odour from private parts and armpits, and those were the parts I focused most of my showering time on, whereas now I wash with water without overdoing it and the odour is gone AND my tendency towards UTIs has gone. Oh and my chronic recurrent ear infections have changed from severe to very mild. So my personal hygiene, as proven by the change in my health and smell, has improved by dropping shampoo and soap and only washing with water. I wash my hands with antibacterial soap after the toilet or other germy activities like handling raw meat or the bin etc. It makes no sense that the human race should naturally stink to high heaven without shampoo and soap. We would have died out a long time ago if we found each other that revolting to be around. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it :-)

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