Living without Soap and Shampoo
There are certain things we hold as necessary–things we can’t live without, or more to the point, things that, when lived without, represent some sort of step backward in human evolution. Take soap and shampoo for example. Would you consider bathing without them? If you’re like most people, you probably wouldn’t. People get dirty in the course of the day, and soap and shampoo are our hygienic weapons. But do we really need them?
A few years ago, an article in Boing Boing claimed that we need neither soap nor shampoo. That piece’s author Sean Bonner, lived a year without either. Not only did he not stink–as verified by numerous sources intimate and otherwise–but persistent problems disappeard. He wrote of the experience:
My skin feels better than ever before. Not that it ever felt bad, really, but it feels awesome now. Still no stink at all, I swear even when I’m really active and sweating I don’t notice any B.O., and I used to be über self-conscious about this and would think I was stinking if I walked up a flight of stairs too quickly….And with the exception of changing climates drastically, even the dandruff is history. My previously wavy and mostly unmanageable hair now seems much more willing to bend to my will, a dream of mine since I first looked in a mirror, brush in hand, then tried and failed to make any sense of that monster.
Bonner was actually inspired by a guy named Richard Nikoley and his blog Free the Animal. While Nikoley wasn’t the first person to not use soap and shampoo (“Of course I didn’t come up with NOT using soap or shampoo first: that’s the whole f$%#ing point.”), he has become the one of the practice’s primary advocates. Both Bonner and he contend that human skin and hair has its own regulatory system, and to leech the oils and other goodness nature provides with artificial agents goes against our biology. More importantly, they don’t get us any cleaner.
This author has some experience with the topic. As a teenager, I used several types of hair products–gel, mousse, hair spray and the like. I had elaborate processes that got my hair to stay exactly in the right place (blowdryers, hats, etc) with the right amount of structural integrity (aka volume). It wasn’t until years later that I discovered the best hair product of all: not shampooing. By letting the oil build up in my hair, my straight, fine hair became thick and pliant. (Full disclosure: I’m still a soap user, though am considering trying to do without).
None of this is suggestive of eliminating the need to bathe. Water is our friend and regular bathing in some capacity is, for most of us, a worthwhile endeavor.
What it does suggest is that certain things that we think are immutable truths–things that should never be lived without–might not be true at all.
But don’t take Bonner, Nikoley or my word for it. Try it for yourself. Try going without soap or shampoo or both for a week. The great thing is you don’t have to buy anything to take this challenge. That’s the point.
Image credit: Flickr via takot