No Soap or Poo Update

hair

Well it was just over a month ago when significant attention was bestowed upon me over my self experiment -- months in the making -- to rid and free myself from soap and shampoo. You know the story.

I got a kick out of a lot of the comments at boingboing at the time, like, "he must be a vegan." Many suggested I must be an unwashed hippie. And many failed to draw the distinction, right there in the boingboing post title -- "Body washing with water alone" -- between not using soap & shampoo and not washing at all. But more than a month later, the comment I laugh about the most was the guy who said: "Don't use shampoo; use real poo." Cracks me up to this day. How weird am I?

So I have an interview tomorrow morning with the Columbia University Journalism School wire service that distributes via the NYT wire. So, potentially, it could go out to many sources, or, it could fizzle -- but I don't know much about this sort of thing. But I'm game. This is mostly about the growing trend to no shampoo, as the reporter explained it. We'll see how it goes. Manbe I can get in a bit about paleo, primal, evfit, eh?

So, it has been more than a month. Did anyone give it a try and care to report their results, positive or negative? I've got a few to share with you. The most extensive report is by Sean Bonner who wrote up a whole deal on it.

I’ve given up using soap & shampoo forever

Towards the end of December I came across an article written by a guy who had given up on using soap and was now washing himself with water alone. My immediate thought was this must be some dirty hippy and I felt sorry for anyone who lived or worked in close proximity to him – however I was interested in why someone would make a choice like this so I sat down and read both the article and the extremely long comment thread which made much more sense than I expected it to. If you have some time I recommend reading it though the author, Richard Nikoley, is active in the paleo-scene so a lot of the comments reference those ideas. But this post isn’t about that article, it’s about my own experiences.

Please extend him the courtesy of a big increased traffic day and go read the post about his experiences.

Next up is this post where he touches on several life tweaks:

Flipping Switches and Turning Dials

Hair: It just gets weirder. Welcome to the next stop on the freak show. A few weeks ago, I read this post over at Free the Animal. Giving up the use of shampoo and other hair care products seemed unorthodox, to say the least. I tend to be particular about my hair. Yet, I was intrigued.

Go check out his results.

And finally, just a few days ago "Jinx" commented on the original post.

It's been a month since I went soap free, and 4 weeks since shampoo last touched my hair. My hair is soft, manageable, shiny, has no odor, and my scalp doesn't itch. I still use soap on my hands after using the toilet, but that's it. Haven't even used facial moisturizer. My skin is soft, has no perfumey soap residue, and I don't need moisturizer even though our winters are very very dry. My hands get dry after using some soaps but a couple of hours later they're soft again. It's working out really well for me. I'm glad I found out about this!

So that's three. Any more who've tried it and given it an honest month or more? Positive or negative, let's hear it.

Update: Well I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with the reporter and actually about half of it was about the paleo / primal / evfit life to include diet, workout, fasting. Covered lots of ground. I speculated that the reason this may be working so well for some as evidenced by these comments is at least partially related to diet as opposed to SAD.

I'm told the article will hit the wire within about two weeks and will go out to 400 newspapers around the country. Let's cross our fingers that it gets picked up by many and that the paleo way gets even more airtime.

Comments

  1. I find it’s necessary to shampoo after going in a chlorinated pool. My hair gets rather sticky and stiff afterwards, so I think the layer of oils is being oxidized by the chlorine, but at least it’s sacrificing itself to protect the structural proteins in my hair.

    • Actually, chlorine is water-soluble so you’re better off using just water after swimming even if you use shampoo the rest of the time. Try it just once, you’ll find the chlorine smell and feeling is even easier to remove than with shampoo.

  2. No soap is going fine. My hands used to be very dry, but now they’re soft.

    No poo didn’t work for me. My hair got unbearably oily after a few days and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my social life. Now I’m washing my hair with shampoo every four days instead of every other day as I used to. I plan to increase the interval little by little.

    • Erin in Flagstaff says:

      That’s how I gave up shampoo several years ago. I kept increasing the number of days between shampoos until I was going abut two weeks apart. Then I quit the shampoo. It’s a good way for your scalp to adjust. After reading Richard’s article I am doing the same with soap. Extending the days in between soap use until I feel that my body has adapted.

      I still use conditioner and use a a “No-Poo” product from Deva about every 10 to 12 days. I read about giving up shampoo in a book called “Curly Girl” — a book for people with curly hair. As curly hair gets very dry it’s important not to shampoo. Conditioning helps though, and I don’t want to give it or my hair gel up. If not using shampoo and using gels make sure to use products that are water soluble, without silicone products in them.

      My hair is curlier since giving up shampoo. What’s strange is that this last year my hair has become way curlier — Shirley Temple would want my ringlets. I’m sure it’s eating the way I do. Lots of fat and protein changed things up.

      • That’s interesting about the curls Erin.
        Since eating low carb/primal my hair has got much curlier. My mother then told me that I’d had curly hair when I was young. Interesting isn’t it!
        How do you get on when you go to the hairdresser I wonder.
        I’m going to try your idea of stretching out the shampoo days.

      • Erin in Flagstaff says:

        I’ve stopped going to the hairdresser! Once I realized that there’s no reason to have evenly cut hair (with curls, who’s going to see if the ends all match?), I figured that I could cut it. Started slowly, never cutting too much, and am now comfortable with trimming my own hair.

      • This is what I’ve been doing. Currently I’m washing ~3 times every 2 weeks but still condition daily. Soap the groin, pits, butt…but that’s about it.

    • Like Erin, I have curly hair and have been familiar with “no-poo” for a few years now. While my hair is dry, my scalp is pretty oily (I can’t begin to describe what a sucky combination that is), but I’ve been able to give up shampoo without a problem. Wetting my hair down and scrubbing my scalp with my fingertips helps a lot, and once a week I use a dilute acv rinse (about 1 ounce acv to 8 ounces water) to get rid of any build up… I only use water soluble products but with the conditioners but I find my curls look better if I do a “deep cleaning” once a week. You might also be able to use baking soda to wash…I’ve heard good things about it but I can’t use it because I color my hair.

      • Alex Barnes says:

        I’ve heard that if you have a problem with the grease accumulating on your scalp then you should use a washcloth to pull it away toward the tips of your hair. I’m going to start going No Poo next week when I get back from my last work conference for a few months. I’ve been reading about going Paleo for the last few months and I think I’m ready to plunge in.

  3. I was leaning in your direction for awhile, especially since the stuff in stores is just industrial waste products that they can sell back to you at a ripoff price, but I found this to be a much better alternative:

    http://www.calbenpuresoap.com/

    doesn’t itch or irritate the skin.

  4. I tried when I first found your blog. My wife was (and still is) away, so I figured it would be easy to get away with.

    It’s worked out well, and I haven’t told my wife. I don’t think she’ll notice when she gets back. I was using dandruff shampoo otherwise I’d have flakes, but the dandruff doesn’t seem to be an issue.

    I have used shampoo twice during this time. There were two instances where it was necessary:
    1) Skipped my shower the day before and I felt really greasy
    2) Clippered my hair, and the little pieces of hair wouldn’t rinse out easily

    So basically, as long as I don’t skip showers I can keep my shampoo usage down to once a month or so.

  5. How can I not comment on this? :-D
    I only use soap on my hands, armpits, groin & feet. I don’t put detergent anywhere near my head as I have psoriasis and I don’t want to cause any flaking. I keep my hair short as long hair tickles my ears but it doesn’t get greasy with water washing.

    • Eric Kawaler says:

      I also have scalp problems and skin problems. Since giving up soap, they are virtually gone. And since going paleo, even my acne has subsided. I’m 35 years old and have had these problems my whole life.

  6. Rochelle says:

    I’ve been going no-poo for about 6 months now. However, instead of not washing my hair at all, I’ve been using baking soda to wash and apple cider vinegar to condition. I don’t need anti-frizz serum anymore and my hair is quite soft. I have had a bit of a problem with dandruff since winter started, but a brown sugar scrub takes care of that.

    I still use soap.

    • A brown sugar scrub? Please elaborate. How do they work/where can I get one? My main problem since going soap- and shampoo-free is that I get a really itchy scalp, and LOTS of flaking.

      One pointer to people who are doing this: many people tout the benefits of coconut oil for keeping your hair and scalp soft and moisturized. I decided to try it out, and got myself a bottle of Softee “Pure” Coconut Oil from Walgreens. It’s $1. (I live in Massachusetts, so $1.06 with tax.) Since the packaging says “Pure Coconut Oil,” I didn’t think to check until I had already bought it; the first ingredient is petrolatum, and there are several other things mixed in there with the coconut oil as well.

      My reason for posting this: I know that some people doing this program are interested in keeping all inedible products off their skin (the old “if you can’t put it in, don’t put it on” wisdom), and I want to post this here to let you know you shouldn’t waste your money on the Softee coconut oil, ’cause it’s not pure even though the packaging indicates it is.

      -Steve

      • you can find good quality, genuinely pure coconut oil at any stores which cater to south asian community… just ask your Indian friends, using coconut oil is common in their culture.

    • Can you describe what the texture of your hair feels like? Is it as “clean” feeling as using shampoo or is there enough oil left in your hair that you could “style” it. I really hate the look of oil in my haircolor. Additionally, how much baking soda do you use? I tried it for 2 weeks, which is probably not enough time, but the baking soda didn’t put a dent in the oil and I found it really difficult to work in/get out.

  7. Richard,

    I’ve been loving this ‘experiment’ (it’s no longer an experiment, it’s now what I do). I began this journey the day after your original post.

    Previously, I had issues every winter with dry skin (forced air, etc.), and it drove me crazy with the itching! Since I’ve eschewed the use of saponified substances I’ve experienced much softer and HAPPIER skin this winter – I get a little itchy here and there, but its nowhere near what it used to be. Overall, skin is softer and more pliable, and I -think- I smell better – haha – to myself, at least. I noticed less of a ‘funk’ if I miss a shower – I’m guessing my skin’s PH is remaining constant and native flora is keeping odor-causing bacteria in check.

    My hair is softer and fuller, and I no longer have to deal with the “dry, dead” feeling I used to when I would shampoo. Before I started this it was getting worse – my hair would feel like straw after washing, and not even conditioner could get it feeling right. No longer!

    One thing I would point out to those that are experiencing oily hair – make sure you are scrubbing/massaging your scalp vigorously! It will help move fresh sebum (skin oil) to your scalp/hair and facilitate the removal of dirty, gummy oil.

    While we’re talking about showers, I recommend finishing every shower with at least 30 seconds of cold (or relatively cold), especially if its after a workout. Gets the blood pumping and invigorates the body, allowing for quicker recovery and being more badass.

    Lumberjacks and Vikings take cold showers. There’s a reason for this.

  8. Jeanie Campbell says:

    Our story: My husband and I have been poo-free since December 17th. He gets his hair wet every shower and uses baking soda/apple cider vinegar roughly the same time as me. I use BS/ACV about every 3-4 days, otherwise I use a shower cap so my hair is dry during showers. My hair is long – middle of my back, and we are extremely happy with the results. What a rip-off shampoos and conditioners are! We still use soap on pits and groin areas (and on hands after using toilet and while cooking), but that’s it. We use straight coconut oil for our skin. We just like to use it in our dry Colorado winters. We’ll see what happens in the summer. We are both 56 years old – hippies indeed! haha Love the paleo/primal lifestyle!

    • Jeanie Campbell says:

      Right – forgot to mention that we clean our teeth with baking soda and peroxide.

  9. Do you still use shaving cream?

    • Woody, I’m about a week into this, but I’ve given up shaving cream, as well. That was a bigger leap for me since I shave my head. I didn’t expect it to go as well as it has, so I figure I’m going to keep this up a while longer.

  10. arlojeremy says:

    I just got my shaggy hair trimmed up reasonably short, so I am going to give this a go! 1 day down.

    This whole thing is about taking those things you’ve done your whole life, your assumptions, challenging them and seeing where it goes. If you give it an open and honest shot and it works, great! If not, well, onto the next assumption.

    Sure, the unfamiliar can be a little scary and sometimes challenging, but isn’t that the point? What’s life without growth?

  11. stopped around new year 2010 with soap and shampoo. still use soap before (always) and after (if greasy) food prep. I use baking soda for deodorant and toothbrushing. my wife mentioned (unusually) several times that I smell good; the third time was early Feb and I said, “are you sure?” and then explained the deal. she was a little weirded about what she called “not washing” but couldnt argue with the results. I do wash but just dont use the chemicals any more… I do clean shave parts of my face once or twice a month and have continued using shaving cream but looking for an alternative as I work through the last of my can.

  12. I have shampooed like twenty times in the past eight years. The only time it seems necessary is when its humid in a polluted city.

  13. Silverbenz says:

    Haven’t used soap on my body for years, other than hands. I used Sorbolene (which is probably some horrid agglomeration of chemicals anyway) on pits/groin/butt until I read the original post by Richard. So, I gave up any form of cleanser (other than for hands), including shampoo/conditioner, after that post. Results: I’m happy with my hair and never had an itchy scalp. Don’t have any dandruff either. Hair seems to be shiny and relatively soft as well. I also swim in a chlorinated pool a few times a week and have noticed that my hair seems to balance itself out without needing shampoo.

    As for body, I haven’t noticed any change – like I said, didn’t use cleansers much anyway (nor deodorant/anti-perspirant at all) – but my partner, after I confessed to doing this experiment, said that he’d noticed a few times that I smelt a bit ‘stale’ on occasion which he hadn’t noticed previously. I’m still trying to get to the bottom of this one and it’s not always present. I use a washer (flannel) to exfoliate every time I shower, but nothing else but water :)

    • Silverbenz says:

      Forgot: I still use Sorbolene as a sort-of shaving cream. Not sure I’m up for the water+razor shave!

      • Eric Kawaler says:

        I stopped using soap to shave almost two years ago, because I ran out of shave cream. I shave just before getting out of the shower and get just as good of a shave as with the chemical crap. I also don’t cut myself anywhere near as much. After a few shaves I didn’t get razor burn either, which I had a problem with when using various shaving products.

  14. After reading your article I decided to try this no soap thing, but just on my face and hair to start out with. So far so good. Hair feels fine. Skin feels fine. I haven’t told my wife, and she hasn’t noticed yet…

    I noticed the most amazing thing the other day, it’s February in New York and I haven’t had one case of chapped lips yet. Usually by now I’m a blistex junkie.

    Also shaving is pretty easy with no soap and no shaving cream. I shave in the shower, the water and my skin’s natural oils do the job just fine.

    One of these days I may expand this experiment a little bit further south on my anatomy. I’m in no hurry tho.

  15. Heather Lackey says:

    I stopped soap, shampoo, deodorant and shaving cream after your initial post. Here’s where I am now:

    I am ~never~ going back to using shaving cream. Never.

    I’ve stayed mostly soap free, save for a few really stressful work days. (Why does stress have to smell so strong?!) I have a little brush I use to defoliate in the shower. I really like that. I think I spend more time cleaning without soap than I did with it.

    I don’t miss deodorant, but I’d never been a steadfast user of it anyway.

    I made it a little over a week without shampoo, couldn’t stand the oiliness, shampooed for two days in a row, and then got hit with a major resurgence of seborrheic dermatitis. I wondered whether it was the not shampooing that had set that up to happen, or was it the going back to shampoo? I switched to a dandruff shampoo for a while to get it under control again, and I’m now almost a week into the new no-shampoo experiment. This time I have to stick with it because now I want to know: was it the no poo or the poo?

    Also, I’ve only just recently started turning off the hot water just before the end of my shower. I actually like it! I loathe being cold, but this I really enjoy.

  16. My boyfriend’s mom and sisters (all of whom have curly hair) gave me the Curlygirl book a few years ago and I no longer use shampoo- my hair is much softer now, though I still have issues with frizziness. I do use conditioner and water for friction cleaning, and have tried to go without conditioner, but that usually results in not being able to get my fingers through my hair where there is the most oil.

  17. Webster Webski says:

    No poo since your post, so far so good! I do wash it with warm water every day, but other than that nothing. I like the way it looks and feels better than before – I have thin hair and in winter with dryness and static it used to get “kinda funny looking”, no more, much more manageable. My wife didn’t notice anything. I also used to use dandruff poo for years, but now there is no dandruff at all. Not sure whether it cured itself a while back or it’s the “no poo treatment” working.

  18. I used to have problems with bad BO despite frequent showers with lots of soap and trials of all known deodorants. Changed my diet to basically Paleo, and discovered the happy if unexpected side effect that showers (with soap – didn’t realize there was any other kind!) now worked to make me smell clean. So I was intrigued to try no soap, no poo, since I figured I was already prepped for success by my diet, and I was already in the soap-on-key-parts-only camp.

    My last soap/shampoo shower was in December, other than when my hair was colored in mid-January. No soap is an unqualified success. With shampoo, my hair needed daily applications of volumizing “product” , styling, and spray to avoid looking super-thin, limp and pathetic. Without shampoo, I still need all the stuff to look great, but my hair is clearly heavier and fuller on its own. Rinsing the products out of my hair with just water every day seems to be working fine. Success again!

  19. We made the switch (for the most part) after reading your post on Dec. 31st. What an interesting start to a new year! LOL

    We’ve stopped using shampoo (except for maybe twice; after swimming in the indoor salt water pool at my mom’s) and just use gentle soap on the ‘bits’ as we all like to call them. I now brush my teeth with just water and do a quick rinse with diluted mouthwash after. (Will eventually switch to something more natural but not yet…one thing at a time.)

    We still use a quick swipe of underarm deodorant, but a lot less than before.

    I have curly, crazy hair and it’s nice and soft now. I usually put some aloe vera gel in it because I need something to keep it from fluffing up. No dandruff to report. I have used the baking soda/cider vinegar combo on my hair a couple times, but now I don’t bother. I massage my scalp well in the very warm shower each morning and lower the temperature to ‘cool’ to finish. At night before bed I brush my hair with boar bristles to distribute the natural oils.

    Still need to work on getting rid of this winter skin itch. I picked up some shea butter today and will see how that goes. After showering I usually dip a damp face cloth into EVOO and give myself (including my face) a wipe-down but apparently it’s not enough. I have VERY sensitive skin.

    Thanks for the motivation to kick soap (etc.) to the curb, Richard!

  20. Well, I’ve been doing it since the beginning of the year, not long after your post, and no problems whatsoever – hair is amazingly soft, styles without anything at all, skin is perfect, beard has no problems with winter itch, smell good, wife happy, co-workers not running out of the room when I enter, and so forth.

    I’m sold. I figure I’ll take the money I’ve saved and buy something really nice!

  21. Before I read your blog post on this I had already minimised my soap usage, having read an article that using soap washed all the Vitamin D rich oils your skin produced for you via sunlight off, negating the benefits of sunlight. After reading it … I went soap and shampoo free (like most commenter, I still wash hands with soap). After a month, I’m still soap free, however I have use a very small amount of shampoo. But no longer daily. My hair was just too greasy. I may try baking soda and apple cider vinegar next instead.

    My wife has been commenting frequently since the first week about how GREAT I smell these days. Add to that, my skin, which I’ve always had problems in the Northern Michigan winters with being dry, flaky, cracking in places even, has never been softer. NO flaking, no dry spots, no need for lotion of any kind, ever.

    I can definitely state that I’ll be staying soap free. And will continue my efforts to become shampoo free.

  22. Chuckles says:

    As reported before, the hair cuttin’ lady here in the small town wanted to know how my hair had become so full, soft, and manageable.

    My response was, “I’m using shampoo less.” Didn’t want the yokels waiting in the chairs to start talkin’ about the crazy hippie preacher and his lack of soap.

    But it’s going well. Soft skin, no odor, and no offense!

  23. Like a lot of people posting here, I started going soap- and shampoo-free on New Year’s Day. The soap and shampoo have had different results, so I’ll report on each differently.

    Soap: I have always had oily skin. When I stopped using soap and started just using a scrub-brush in the shower, the oiliness cleared up remarkably quickly. I used to think that dry and tight meant clean – now that my skin is soft and moist all the time, I know that THIS is clean.

    Shampoo: Just like my skin, my hair has always been oily. And just like my skin, my hair has really evened out since I stopped using chemical cleansers. It is now soft and manageable all the time, even when I don’t shower for a day (which happens a lot, since my wife and I have a 6-month old!). It NEVER gets oily, but is never dry either.

    General positive: It used to be that when we took the sheets off our bed to wash them, my wife’s side would be virginal white and my side would be a jaundiced brown from all the extra oil my body produced. I’m not kidding. The pillow was particularly bad: just a few days after putting fresh sheets on, my pillow would be a brownish yellow from how oily my hair and face would get. Now, my side is basically the same color as my wife’s side. How’s that for visible proof?

    General negative: The dandruff has really been driving me crazy. I scrub and scrub my scalp but the flakes just won’t quit, although the recent addition of coconut oil to my hair care has at least mitigated the itching. I have a mild anti-dandruff shampoo that I’ve been thinking about using until the winter is over – replenishing the moisture in my hair post-wash with the coconut oil. I am NOT thinking about doing any such thing with soap, though; there is no way I’m going back to the old need-to-wash-my-face-every-six-hours-or-else-become-a-human-mirror dilemma!

    -Steve

    • Oh, and one more thing. My beard no longer itches at all! I scrub the skin underneath it with the brush every time I shower. Sometimes when I skip a day of showering it gets a little itchy, but a good scrub the next day takes care of it. I used to never be able to have a beard because the itching would drive me nuts, but now I can actually grow one, much to my (and my wife’s) pleasant surprise!

  24. One month in and skin is just fine, but I had been soaping only pits and bits before that anyway. The problem is still my scalp and forehead pouring out oil. At the end of the day my hair feels like it’s coated in wax. My scalp is fairly itchy, but no flakes, as the dead skin is bound with oil, ugh. If I scratch my head I get this oily mess under my fingernails.

    As for odour, some days I don’t like my pits, and have to deodorize. I’m giving this another month, but I’m losing optimism.

    • Are you brushing your hair with a boar bristle brush? Yes, there will still be ‘some’ oil if you scratch your scalp, but it won’t be a crazy amount.

  25. Erik Cisler says:

    I’ve been soap and shampoo-free for over a month now. So far, so good. The wife doesn’t complain, but then again, she’s on a similar regimen. She smells incredible.

    I’ve also been shaving with a mixture of greek yogurt, olive oil, and lemon juice. Closest shaves yet.

  26. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve never used soap in the shower in my life. The only thing that gets soaped on me is dirty hands. I’ve always had nice skin, even in the winter, and I think this is why.

    I have fair hair past my shoulders. For shampoo, I used to have to shampoo it every day and even then it would be oily by evening. I’ve “trained” it to only need shampooing twice a week now. I’d like to ditch shampoo entirely, but the last time I tried that I gave it a month and a half with the baking soda/ACV method and my head was a giant greaseball the whole time. I might try it again sometime but I’m not sure I want to deal with it for that long if I’m not going to get good results (and I’ve never actually talked to anyone who has long fair hair and has gotten good results from this – usually it seems like people with short hair or curly hair get all the fun).

    • Jeanie Campbell says:

      Elizabeth, my hair is long – half way down my back. 1 Tbsp baking soda in a cup of water to wash, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar in a cup of water to rinse. Voila! Clean and tangle-free hair for the next 3-4 days at least. I’m sold!

      • I tried the wash cloth method, but that left my hair greasy and clumpy after only a few days, so I switched to the BS/ACV. It’s awesome. Just make sure that you rub your scalp with the BS mix still in, then rinse. I also don’t rinse out the diluted ACV-I just pour it on and wring it out. Super sort, clean looking, great smelling hair. I even had itchiness during my shampooing days that has completely disappeared.

        What do women shave with? I’ve been using EVOO, but my legs got crazy super dry and I was forced to turn to a shea butter to get it under control because I couldn’t stand the itchiness/tightness and didn’t want to turn to chemicals again.

  27. redcatbicycliste says:

    Question: Why are some of you using soap (a detergent) on your genitals? Really, you don’t need to use soap down there, not unless you are walking around, with that part of your body unclothed, dredging it through a tar pit or cesspool. You can get your genitals clean with gentle exfoliation using a washcloth (or someother cloth of your choosing).

  28. I’m going on three years with no soap, shampoo, deordorant or toothpaste. I haven’t noticed any negatives. In fact, I regulary get complements.

  29. No soap, shampoo or deodorant since the beginning of the year. I was using anti-dandruff shampoo regularly and the first few weeks I had a crazy itchy scalp but it eventually went away. I was most concerned with not using deodorant as I started in the middle of the Australian summer and previously there was no way I could not use deodorant and not stink. Like the shampoo, the first few weeks were sketchy, especially when sweaty, but now I remain BO free even when drenched in sweat at the gym.

    I am interested in how a paleo diet impacts the effectiveness of this. I am assuming everyone commenting on here would also be paleo, but was wondering if anyone not paleo has tried soap-free? Paleo living means a healthy body, including skin, so unhealthy skin might not fare so well? I say this because I stopped using toothpaste as well but after having some very un-paleo cheesecake one night there was no way I was not using toothpaste as my mouth felt horrible.

    • I don’t consider myself paleo, but I’m eating much more ‘real’ food instead of frozen meals and pre-packaged or canned foods. I used to live off frozen meals like Weight Watchers (from the grocery store) for lunch and some sort of pre-made frozen meal that would go in the oven. Soooo much sodium and other crap in all that stuff. It should be illegal, really.

    • I only came across this site by googling to see if anyone else washed soap-free. I’m 40 and I’ve been soap-free for decades now. Only to wash my hands after bathroom use and messy meals, etc. I’ve never even heard of paleo until tonight. I eat frozen dinners mostly! I try to eat healthy-ish, but certainly nowhere near paleo level.

      I too have received numerous comments on how soft my skin is. And the only person I’ve ever told about this was my ex, and she was taken aback at first but then she realized that I smell normal, if not BETTER than normal. I’ve always believed that soap hides the natural pheremones that help attract the opposite sex in the first place. (Funny story: She kinda insisted I use soap on my privates after she found out. Not gonna go into detail, but let’s just say that she was a convert after that lil experiment!)

      I still use a deodorant, but it’s a crystal deodorant that is 100% natural.

      So I’m really intrigued by the shampoo idea. I already have pretty nice hair and am a bit afraid of ruining that. But if it makes it more manageable, that’d be a plus.

      And the toothpaste idea kinda freaks me out, to be honest. lol Maybe some day…

  30. I’m always looking for ways to reduce the complexity of everyday life — every morning it was “what do I want to smell like today?” Grapefruit, lavender, cherry blossom, kiwi-mango, etc… In a way, a lot like choosing a carbohydrate to complement a meal. Skip ‘em both, simplify life a little, gain more time to comment on paleo blogs.
    I have been giving the no soap no shampoo thing a try since around the start of the new year. It’s working out okay, no spectacular results one way or the other. Hair is a little wild, no changes to skin or body odor except that I don’t smell like fruit anymore. It will be interesting to see how this experiment extends into my summer.

    • Excellent point about Paleo being a time saver Dave B! I fewer meals (once a day on average), spend less time preparing meals (fewer ingredients), shop for groceries less, wash up less and overall spend less money following Paleo principals. In all I reckon I gain about a 8-10 hours of extra time per week to do other things with my life. Only downside is I lose about an hour a week reading R. Nikoley’s stuff on FTA though!

  31. Had to echo the wisdom of the above commenter: about “ways to reduce the complexity of everyday life”.. Thanks Dave B. this has truly been an issue of late in my life….

    I have been trying the full-on no-poo style lately (2 weeks ago) and everything is surprisingly normal. I used to wash my (dry, curly) hair only once a week so that mightve helped. I have armed myself with a good sulfate-free shampoo (Burts Bees Grapefruit-Beet) in case things go terribly wrong but so far so good.

  32. I’ve gone no-poo and I’m quite happy with the results. I’ve cut back using the anti-psoriasis steroid foam, so I suspect shampoo was a major cause of the problem. Still use soap on “the bits” though…..

  33. Shortly after I read your original article I stopped completely with the soap, shampoo and toothpaste. I had only been soaping pits and privates so it was easier to let go of the soap. The shampoo I was a little more concerned about giving up but now after several weeks I’m completely sold.

    I’ve not mentioned my experiment to anyone and no one has mentioned anything to me…so far so good. The girlfriend hasn’t said anything either so I’m taking that as a very positive sign. I’ll give it a few more weeks then ask around and see anyone noticed any changes.

    How about air drying after a shower instead of towling off? Am I removing too many good oils with the towel? Will I towel off valuable Vitamin D in the summer time?

    How about hair cuts? If the stylist kindly offers to shampoo my hair before cutting it should I take them up on the offer? Have you found haircuts to be any different for you?

    Even though I’m not using toothpaste I still floss. My gums seem to need the extra attention. I too can tell when I’ve indulged with some extra sugar, my teeth feel grungy.

  34. I had been meaning to try the no shampoo regime for some time having read about it years ago. I read your original post on New Years Eve so went home, had a shower with shampoo and soap, and have touched neither since then – except washing hands and I use a tiny bit of basic soap washing the old rump steak.

    I hadn’t ever been a fan of deodorant, as it made my armpits feel sticky.

    Results – hair looks normal or slightly better most of the time, with the odd day when it looks a bit greasy, perhaps one day in ten. I have short, fine, dark hair. I don’t think I stink, although I do notice some days the odd small tang from my armpits, due I believe to certain food or beverages I probably shouldn’t be eating. I decided not to tell my wife, to see if she noticed – she hasn’t. She’d probably recoil in disgust if I told her I was shampoo and soap free. It’s my ‘dirty’ little secret :)

    No plans to give up shaving gel, as my skin nicks easily and I need the clean shaven look for my job. I don’t fancy giving up toothpaste either, although I would consider alternatives.

    So overall – an interesting experiment I mean to continue indefinitely.

  35. I’ve been no soap or shampoo (including bits) for a couple of months now. And all is well, in fact my wife mentioned the other day that I smell _less_ than I had prior.

    And to the guy who was wondering if summer would make a difference, this has been over summer in nth queensland — very often >35C and 80% humidity.

  36. Thanks for breaking the silence on this subject! – In the past year I could count my encounters with soap on the fingers of one hand (except for washing my hands when handling food and so on). My dermantologist has long ago urged me to use soap less – especially if I shower daily. The impact on my skin is significant: I need no lotion at all, it’s soft and never flakes. Neurodermitis (a skin condition linked to red, swollen, itchy and dry skin) has disappeared.
    Since I have read your post I have also tried to go shampoo-less but I can’t get over the transition period. My long hair just looks very greasy after 6 days or so… So I started to stretch out the days between shampooing and use less shampoo on every go. I hope that helps – and eventually kills my dandruff too! I’d appreciate any more hints from people with long, thick, dense and very oily hair (originally I had to wash my hair every 2 days…) to turn this thing around.

    • Yeah, I had absurdly long hair and I was able to shift to shampooing once a week. One or two washes without shampoo seemed OK or even beneficial (shiny AND curly), but after that it started to get gnarly. I also was relying on conditioner to do an occasional detangle, so I would do that once a week.

  37. Steve Carter says:

    I’ve been soap free since a few days after your original post. I didn’t mention the change to my wife and she’s not noticed any difference in terms of B.O.
    I shower every morning and shave ALL of my head (apart from my eyebrows) whilst in there. I’m struggling to find something that allows me to do that without stripping the oils from my skin. I’ve recently moved to the oil type shaving products so I’ll see how that develops. I still have two dry patches of skin over my cheekbones that don’t seem to want to go away. Hopefully they’re weather related as I walk around 5 miles a day and it’s pretty shitty here at the moment.

  38. THANKS Richard and thanks everyone for visiting SEE…this was an epic day. I can sympathize with those that were hesitant to share the news with their significant other…but, when she handed out the first compliment, I figured I was on the right track. Cat’s out of the bag now!

  39. I kind of gave up soap and shampoo after one of your posts on it – I follow mark sissons’ primal blueprint so reducing chemicals makes sense to me.

    I have been doing it for 2 weeks:

    I use soap every day on my ‘necessary’ areas, but nowhere else (e.g. not my face). i also use natural deoderant instead of chemical antiperspirant (water and some kind of salt – shop bought)
    I moisturise and shave with cocnut oil. (I used to use face scrub, shave gel and moisturiser)
    I wash my hair only once per week with with bicarbonate of soda and cider vinegar, and plan to increase the periods between washing it. (I used to use shampoo every day)
    I dont use any hair products (I used to use styling wax every day)

    Bad sides:
    hair is fluffy and dry after washing – I don’t like the style, about 2 days after washing seems the ideal for atm, aesthetic wise
    I sweat alot; the fresh sweat doesn’t smell but gets embedded in my shirts which do start to smell and the washing machine doesn’t really get it out.
    coconut oil isnt as good as shaving gel so far; some friction occurs
    Coconut oil can leave residue on my face and can get oil patches onto clothes etc

    Good sides:
    Its cheaper
    Its fun
    Less chemicals makes me feel good about health and the environment, although actual evidence of the effects is unknown
    hair and skin look pretty good most of the time, but I need longer to trial it

  40. In winter I shower every second day using some super mild sage lotion for the feet and armpits only. With this plus keto diet I got rid of my Neurodermatitis and Psoriasis. It´s also very important for people with dry skin to try more fat via diet. So it´s my indicator for more or less fat. I had times my hair went so oily from eating too much fat that I have too wash them each day. Now it´s fine and if people ask for my skin creame I just say that I´m eating lots of animal fats. Sure, they think I´m weird.

  41. I started on January 1st, it didn’t even take 6 days for my skin and hair to ‘normalise’. I felt squeaky clean every day – and even if I don’t shower on one day, i’m still smelling wonderful and looking fine the next: whereas daily showers were a necessity when using the soap routine.

    Sometimes when I go out, I don’t want to wear cologne anymore: my natural body smell is just so good.

  42. I’m soap and shampoo free from 4th january. I like it. Have no problems.

  43. I’ve been without soap or shampoo for three and a half weeks. It’s done wonders! My skin and hair always feels soft and well hydrated, which is a welcome contrast to the expected dry skin and itchiness that usually accompanies the winter weather. I also used to have some acne problems, which has [all but] totally disappeared since ditching soap and shampoo.

    What’s also remarkable is how I no longer feel “dirty”. Even after working out and getting sweaty, there is no rancid body odor wafting away from me. I can walk all day in a old pair of boots, and at the end of the day my feet lack that “sweaty foot smell” that used to plague me.

    There’s also the vain-glorious aspect of ditching soap and shampoo. Where I began looking healthier when I started eating paleo, dropping soap and shampoo has really synergized that effect. My skin now has that healthy pallor seldom seen outside of airbrushed media images, and my blonde hair has achieved a new flaxen sheen and thickness that cannot be matched by any shampoo or conditioner (I’ve tried plenty).

    I’ll still keep some soap on hand for an emergency, but I there’s no reason to regularly use it again. Washing with water only has definitely improved my quality of life.

  44. I have also been doing this since January 4th. The only time that shampoo was used on my hair was when I got my hair cut around the end of January. I couldn’t bring myself to tell the guy who cuts my hair what I was doing. I didn’t really experience any oddities going soap and shampoo free, no oily hair or skin. Now my skin is much less dry than it normally is this time of year and my hair is a lot softer.

    In addition to going soap and shampoo free, I started eating paleo after reading some of the other articles here. I’ve lost 15 lbs. Thank you for exposing me to a new lifestyle.

  45. Many thanks Richard for the idea. I have been shampoo-free for two weeks now and there appears to be no difference. I still use soap though on strategic parts. But water in my bath (which I prefer to shower) is still chlorinated, which is definately non-Paleo. Rain water would be next step :)

    BTW, I got inspired buy your idea about standing desk: bought two filing cabinets and will put a large baord (actually a door) on top of them. Have been reading on posture and ergonomics a little. Standing makes more sense than sitting.

  46. Luther Anthony says:

    After reading your comments regarding no soap or shampoo, I dediced to try it. It has been over a month since I have used anything on my hair other than rinsing with hot water. The results have been good. I am committed.

    I occasionaly use soap on my groin area but not every day. The results have been just as good.

    I was concerned at first about odors but there are none. My wife doesn’t know what I am doing and has yet to make any comments about the change. She has an excellent sense of smell and would not hesitate to tell me if she noticed.

    • Aaron Griffin says:

      Same for me. I told my fiance that I haven’t washed my hair in weeks and don’t plan to. She made a face but is used to me experimenting with goofy things.

      Additionally, I tend to wash my crack with soap about once every 3 days

  47. Here’s a question for the masses on the topic of hand-washing…

    I work in an office and I sanitize or wash my hands after touching ANYTHING, such as door handles or the water cooler dispenser tap, etc. , so my hands are pretty dry. At home it’s a different story.

    However, I very rarely get colds or sick in general. Do any of you find there’s any difference in your health since you’ve stopped washing your hands for the most part?

    • Aaron Griffin says:

      No, but there’s a difference in my health since eating better and taking the proper supplements (Vitamins A, D, and K)

  48. Aaron Griffin says:

    I’ve stopped the soap/shampoo thing because of your article. I’ve noticed the following:

    * My hands are softer, no more cracking and peeling around the nails.
    * My showers take much less time now
    * Overall I don’t feel any different

  49. I stopped using soap and shampoo right at the beginning of the new year. I have to say that just using water instead of soap has not posed any issues. I have been told that there is no offending odors. On the other hand the hair has been a completely different issue. I have always seemed to have a dry scalp and I was hoping that by stopping the use of shampoo I might bring some natural moisture onto my scalp instead of stripping it ‘clean’ every day. But, it seems that hasn’t worked. After 3 weeks of not using shampoo my head had become extremely itchy and my scalp was flaking like crazy. Does anyone have any thoughts on how I can get my scalp to not be so dry and still stop the use of shampoo?

    • Aaron Griffin says:

      You need to make sure you actually rub it down in the shower. Do the rubbing massage thing that you do when shampooing. Try not to scratch with your finger nails. This worked for me

  50. I’ve been trying out the no soap/poo after reading your prior article. After about 3 days, my hair and scalp were so oily it was making me itch, so I tried an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse, which worked wonders! A week and a half later and my hair is actually quite a bit “fuller” and seems thicker (coming from shampooing every day).

    No soap has been working thus far, and I switched to just spritzing cologne on my armpits after showers and the girlfriend hasn’t complained of any offending odors! (We’ll see how this works out in the summer heat and when I’m more active)

    My main issue has been that I’ve also stopped using any face moisturizer, hoping that my natural oils would come back, and that would be one more thing I could stop doing daily. However, my face is still extremely dry and flaky, and doesn’t seem to be finding its own balance yet. I’m going to give it another week, but am open to any suggestions.

    Great Article!

  51. I jumped on board after your post. I didn’t really notice any real improvements (my hair is pretty short, so I can’t tell a difference) but no issues either. I don’t stink, which is nice, and I find I only occasionally need deodorant.

    I do find that I naturally scrub my self more vigorously now.

    On the bright side, I broke the news to my wife after a month or so. She had no idea…

  52. I just scanned all the comments, and I seem to be the only failure. I tried no soap, no shampoo from the day of the first post, a little more than a month ago. I did use soap and shampoo once, after a week, because I was feeling very oily and itchy, but then never again for the rest of the month. After an adjustment period, it felt as if my skin and hair adapted somehow. But then about a week ago (3 weeks in) I noticed my hair was increasingly feeling matted, and my scalp, while not feeling itchy, felt sort of uncomfortable. I also noticed the skin on my back breaking out and becoming more and more itchy, and finally, on Sunday, I used soap and shampoo again. Frankly, I feel better!

    A couple things I should mention: My wife always buys expensive, high-quality soaps from the likes of L’Occitane and Crabtree & Evelyn (ie, real soap, not detergents). And I was only shampooing my hair 2-3x per week before my experiment, just rinsing with warm water on the other days. I am going to try using soap less often than I used to, but I find that never using soap or shampoo just didn’t work out for me.

  53. Markus L. says:

    After reading all the comments I’ve decided to give this a try.
    However I have dandruff, which so far, I’ve only kept under controll by using schampoo.
    I’ve read mixed results in the commends.
    Would the ones with this problem like to elaborate?

  54. Matthew Odette says:

    I’m in the same boat as Robert M. (first commenter), I need to use shampoo after swimming laps in a pool. Well, need might be a strong word… But it certainly makes me feel better. The only local indoor pool uses mass amounts of chemicals and if I don’t wash them off, I’ll still smell like the pool when I go the next day.

  55. I tried going no-poo about a year ago. I have fine, limp hair about shoulder length that I’ve been washing every day, sometimes twice a day, since I was a teenager. It gets greasy by evening, and if not, definitely in the morning it’s flat and greasy. First I tried skipping a day. Ugh. Then I tried the bs/acv route and found my hair oddly greasy and staticky and crispy almost. Then I tried conditioner only (but there’s crap in that, too)… finally I’ve resorted to the most enviro-friendly shampoo and conditioner I can find, and using the least amount possible. On weekends, I go no-poo.

    For the brief while when I was experimenting and finding some benefits — fuller, curlier hair — it was also summer motorcycle season, and wearing my helmet every morning for the hour commute to work was just flattening everything all over again… now, I’m thinking my upcoming maternity leave will be the perfect chance to really give no-poo a try.

    As for soap, I do pits and groin and feet if I’ve been barefoot in the mud, with a natural handmade soap. For shaving my legs I use water only or conditioner. but I never soap up arms and legs etc… hubby does that and he’s covered in dry skin bumps. Strangely tho, he only shampoos once a week — and does suffer from dandruff in winter.

    … next stop, reusable toilet paper. And no, I’m not kidding.

    • Try to stretch out the time between shampooing even if the hair looks greasy the last day. I found that by doing that I could go from daily washing to once every 4-5 days. I know it’s hard to do it, but your hair will adapt after 2-3 weeks and get less greasy less soon!

  56. I was no-poo for 5 years, and have gone soap-free on the body for some periods of time.

    My hair is dry so I didn’t have grease problems, but my scalp got more and more itchy, gunky, and flaky over the years, and having to scrub it so hard to get it clean made me shed a lot of hair. My scalp is happier and hair (I have long curly hair which needs lot of moisture) seems perfectly fine using shampoo regularly for the past year.

    My body is okay without soap, but I definitely have more odor faster in pits and bits without it, so prefer to use it. I don’t generally put it all over my body unless I am doing manual exfoliation, but I have problematic dry skin (pretty sure I have mild ichthyosis inherited from my dad) which is happier the more maintainence it gets, so I use a mild soap with my Japanese exfoliating cloth as it works better that way. Until I was 17 I didn’t do anything with my skin, and it was HORRENDOUS. Keritosis pilaris, inflamed pores, and scales/flaking all over. It needs a lot of work to look and feel okay. But that’s hardly average.. like I said, icthyosis.

  57. Oh – I have seen huge improvements with my many skin issues in the last 4 months of eating truly primal. My acne is nearly gone, no winter eczema this year, and no rashes (usually get frequent rashes). But I still have quite an involved skin-care routine.

  58. There is this guy at my church who, when we were all supposed to give interesting facts about ourselves, shared that he doesn’t use soap, only shampoo. It boggled my mind. Then, when I read your article it got me thinking, he doesn’t smell all these people are reporting good results. I started out a few days after reading the article. The results are as follows (days are estimates figure +/- 1 day accuracy):

    Day 1: No poo, soap on crotch and pits also stopped using hair cream for styling
    Day 3: Hair was feeling a little greasy, (this made it easier to style) body no notifiable difference
    Day 4: A little Shampoo
    Day 5: Noticed a mild acne breakout on face and chest used a little soap on face and chest
    Day 10: Cut ~ 1″ off the top of my hair trimmed the sides, this helped with the greasy feeling
    Day 12: Acne started clearing up, stopped using soap on crotch and pits
    Day 15: Hair felt okay (maybe I was just getting used to it)
    Day 18: No smell (I have asked some friends). No noticeable difference in skin, face feels a little oilier sometimes, hair hasn’t returned to “Day1″ normal. I comb it out after my shower and sometimes I get a slight white waxy film on my comb, I don’t like this.
    Day 19-Day 36(current): Things really haven’t changed Day 19. I am pretty convinced of the no soap thing, I might use shampoo every once in a while.

    I have also been reducing my sugar/grain intake and increasing my veggie intake (I already had a pretty healthy meat intake). This might have something to do with it.

  59. Jimmy Fallon had Brian Williams on the other day and when Jimmy asked him, “What’s your favorite shampoo?” Brian responded with “water”. He went on to elaborate that he doesn’t use shampoo and sticks with “al natural”, or something like that.

    I’m sure you can see the clip on Hulu or something.

  60. I just posted the following update to the post:

    “Update: Well I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with the reporter and actually about half of it was about the paleo / primal / evfit life to include diet, workout, fasting. Covered lots of ground. I speculated that the reason this may be working so well for some as evidenced by these comments is at least partially related to diet as opposed to SAD.

    I’m told the article will hit the wire within about two weeks and will go out to 400 newspapers around the country. Let’s cross our fingers that it gets picked up by many and that the paleo way gets even more airtime.”

  61. I’ve been basically soap-free for several months now. I’m not anal about it, I’ll use a natural soap like Dr. Bronner’s from time to time if I feel like it, but overall I don’t. I rinse my hair with vinegar, which worked better once my hair got used to going without drying shampoo. I scrub down with coconut oil or sweet almond oil in place of soap on my skin. My skin is softer than ever this way, and I’ve gotten more than one compliment about it. I’m sold on the soap-free life.

  62. Here’s my update.

    I switched to no shampoo years ago when my dad (with a think head of beautiful hair at 70+) confessed, much to the family’s “embarrassment” publicly, that he never washed it other than with a little bar soap every month or so. Years without shampoo and my hair actually improved – got thicker, softer.

    Last year, I had an opportunity to try some homemade natural soap – almost no lye, no suds – and my normally dry skin immediately went to only 10% dryness (from say a 50%). I’ve used that since.

    Then I read the FTa post on no soap. Originally, I met it with skepticism, but logically I figured it couldn’t hurt to test. My biggest concerns are the genital area and pit smell. I’m a big guy – i.e. obese (but losing on primal, thanks) and sweat a lot, so I use a lot of antiperspirant, which I know is bad for me but, what do I do? And secondly, my genital region gets pretty ripe and yeasty smelling – made worse by my not being circumcised. I pretty much had a regimen of washing the damn thing 2-3 times a day with soap to keep the smell under control. Of course I also used copious amounts of moisturizer since I was so dry, and hair gel.

    So – no soap down there for..6 weeks? I’ve switched to using a washrag for scrubbing with water instead. Also switched to a spray deodorant. I only use virgin coconut oil now as a shaving cream, hair styling, and moisturizer – and what the hell, I eat a finger full at the same time.

    The results?

    1. No body odor. but see later notes.
    2. No genital odor. This was very surprising. It did take a week or two, but after adjusting the rank yeasty-cheesiness seemed to slowly go away. Amazing. I no longer smell like ‘soap’ down there, but for want of a better word, it smells like meat, which I dunno, is apt?
    3. hair is very soft and nice.
    4. skin is much softer, and almost entirely undry.

    So its a success, with one body odor caveat. Right now its the dead of winter and I’m sweating very little. I’m going to have to see what happens (whether I can go without antiperspirant) when sweating season comes.

    But here’s an interesting observation. After some personal difficulties, I was back on a sugar-binging diet when I started the no soap, and the first couple of weeks saw no improvement and no lack of yeasty smells. However by the 2-3 week in I had detoxed from sugar and have been primal every since, and the improvement was very close with that. I wonder if the benefit of no soap is amplified by not being full of sugar, which leads to yeast outbreaks, bad gut bacteria, and the same? I wonder if the bad bacteria needs a lot of body sugar, waste, etc to make the really stinky stuff?

    • Rocco:

      Thanks for the very comprehensive update (and the rest of you too — just way too much to respond to individually so consider this a COLLECTIVE THANKS. And especially to those with less than optimal results. We don’t want to be a cheerleading section, here; honesty — and the credibility it brings — is everything).

      Isn’t the private bits deal the bomb? Man, I used to have all sorts of issues with sweat, smell, itch and so on. Six months (I began mid summer, so heat is not an issue) and nothing. There’s just no issue.

      So, I would encourage those who are still using soap on the bits to give it a shot. In fact, I had already not been using soap except on the bits for a good six months before I went completely free. I was left with the impression that I had deprived myself of the best results of all.

  63. It’s like the joke:

    A sign in a hairdresser says:

    Shampoo and set $10, proper poo and set $20

  64. I just want to say I tried not using soap since I read the previous article about it (came here from boingboing), and it’s great! Have had no problems so far. I tried not using deodorant for a few days but noticed a bit of odor (not strong, but natural human odor). Now I’m using deodorant again and it’s totally fine. I feel great just showering with water, I feel more free.

    • Oh, and just to clarify on whether diet affects the results: I’m not following a paleo diet, nor am I vegetarian or vegan or any of that. I eat as healthy as I can, varied, small amounts, but a regular diet, nothing out of the ordinary.

  65. Hmm, I have been soap-free in the shower on my body for a couple years now. I get thrown for a loss if I have house guests and they ask where the soap is, so I do keep some around, and wash my hands with soap after I’ve been picking up my dog’s poop, but usually never otherwise. I can’t say my skin is any better – still very dry. But I swear I have far less body odor. I have not yet made the switch to no soap in the hair though. I still wash my hair 2-3 times a week. But maybe one of these days I’ll get braver there.

  66. Question,

    Do you (anyone) scrub with just your hands or are you using something?

  67. I’ve been “no poo” since mid December, and prior to that (since fall of 2008) only used it once a week or so. I did invest in a nice boar bristle brush in mid January as I could tell my wooden bristle brush just wasn’t going to work to spread oil and remove tangles (I have long hair that tends toward dryness especially on the ends). I don’t think I’ve ever used soap/shampoo as often as the average person, so it wasn’t a major transition.

    I usually avoid soap except for washing dishes/hands while cooking (or when really dirty from outdoor play), but do occasionally use an oil soap (bar of coconut/jojoba oil with lavender essential oil), or diluted Dr. Bronners Peppermint soap when I just feel like smelling different (I love how relaxing lavender is and how invigorating peppermint is), but I know I don’t NEED to. I use coconut oil as a moisturizer post shower especially on hands/arms and face as I spend a lot of time outside in the wind/rain at this time of year and it does a great job of protecting exposed skin.

    Oh, and thought I’d also share…DH and I bought a “Biffy” (cheap personal “washer” for the toilet…I promise we’re not affiliated in any way, just think it’s worth sharing since it’s on the subject of water and cleanliness) about two years ago, and it is amazing…I hate using the restroom at work or out and about now (it is incredible how much fresher and cleaner one feels after a spray wash with cold, clean water). For those that feel like they need to soap up certain regions you might change your mind with something like this around…oh…and we save TONS of money on TP now!

    • anand srivastava says:

      The washer for toilet is very very common in India. It has even a name health faucet. It actually is much better than using paper.

      • I love this bidet idea, but I’m North American and it still seems really exotic to me.

      • I’m from the US myself…it was a bit weird at first since I’d never used/seen one (and COLD…yikes…but it only took a couple days to get used to it so I wouldn’t bother with the heated kind). Now I definitely don’t think it’s exotic, just really nice and the fresh/clean feeling is amazing. Now that I’m used to it I can’t imagine not having one. It’s extremely easy to install on a regular toilet (at least the “Biffy” is)…and it’s relatively cheap especially if you think about how much you save on TP!

  68. I’d like to echo a lot of other comments on here; I ditched the soap and shampoo just after the new year (thanks for the link boingboing!) and had a similar experience to most on here. The first two weeks were tough and my hair and skin were greasy while getting used to the lack of soap. After that, I used a touch of shampoo for one or two showers and everything just evened out perfectly.

    Soon I started to see more pimples than I was willing to put up with and I continued using my acne facewash (salicylic acid plus herbal extracts) again. Now my face does end up oily later in the day, but the lack of pimples is worth it.

    A note on vitamin D, pimples, and no soap: I started taking anywhere from 2000 to 4000IU of vitamin D since mid last year after recommended by my doctor. I found that after about a week of starting or upping the dosage, I had pimples and breakouts, but they eventually subsided after a couple of weeks. The experience after ditching my facewash was very different than when I changed my intake of vitamin D; it felt more like the breakouts I got as a teenager (I’m 25 now) compared to just blackheads and easy to extract pimples. Learning that D is closely associated with absorption of testosterone made all the sense in the world!

    Although I don’t eat a completely paleo diet, I have found a few foods that contribute to body odor for me: garlic and coffee. Stress also tends to play a part. I’ve been using natural (Tom’s) deodorants for years now and only on very active days (and those I drink coffee) do I notice my smell at the end of the day.

    Thanks for all the great info Richard, and I plan to move onto a completely paleo diet soon!

  69. While on a similar topic, do you use tooth paste or laundry detergent?

  70. I make toothpaste out of baking soda, salt, glycerol and peppermint oil. mainly because flouride is a toxin. i haven’t noticed any negative or positive effects after 3-4 weeks of this.

    I still use laundry detergent, but that still doesnt get the sweat smell out of my shirts :(

  71. oooooh have to chime in about toothpaste.

    I use the same handmade natural soap that I use on pits and bits — well, not the exact same bar, but the same soapmaker’s stuff. I have a chocolate-mint bar, yum!

    About once a week I’ll use baking soda to get rid of any discoloration.

    My teeth feel fantastic, they are whiter than ever, and I no longer have issues with cold/hot/sweet sensitivity or bleeding gums. I’m sure the diet helps, too.

  72. OK, sadly I have to report that I have NOT had success with no poo. This was the 2nd time I’ve tried it. The first time I tried baking soda/ACV and got horribly horribly DRY hair. The same happened this time. Right now I wash only about 1x/week and condition like crazy. My hair is quite thick and long. Maybe I’m doing something really wrong, I dunno. Maybe the shampoo isn’t the issue but the conditioner. I use soap sometimes but no deodorant and that is going quite well. I think the key for me is to take colder showers. I think even warm water is harmful for my hair type, I try to rinse in cool/cold but the rest of the shower is hot (especially in winter because I live really far north and the shower is sometimes the only part of the day I get to feel warm). It does get better in the summer as I can take really cold showers and not mind a bit.

  73. Here is the recipe of the best deodorant you could ever dream of (Richard, you should try it instead of using old spice)

    Mix together 5 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1/4 cup of arrowroot powder and 1/4 cup of baking soda (or a little less to avoid skin reactions)

    • what do you do with that? is it like a paste that you rub on? Sounds stiky :s

      the natural deo I use is water + some kind of salt I think, but its about £4 per bottle.

      • Yes you apply it just like a normal moisturizer. It’s not sticky and it gets absorbed by your armpit super quick. It’s probably the best deodorant I have ever used but remember not to have a heavy hand on the baking soda. It’s also pretty cheap, especially since you probably already have Coconut oil and baking soda somewhere in your house.

  74. RedStateGreen says:

    I haven’t used shampoo or toothpaste for several years now (I stopped toothpaste after discovering a chemical in it was giving me canker sores). I’ve had no problems with my hair or teeth; the dentist says everything is fine.

    I used to use deodorant all the time; now during the summer I use crystal spray, during the winter I don’t use anything.

    I think a lot of the “need” to use products is fueled by advertising.

  75. I gave a go at no soap/poo starting january first.

    I noticed no bad effect stopping to use soap, but I was using soap only twice a week before the experiment, so maybe my skin was already half used to no soap…
    I only use deodorant on work days. On weekends I use crystal stone. I plan to stop using deodorant altogether soon and stick to crystal stone.

    Concerning no poo, it was a little harder. I used to wash my hair with poo twice a week. They are shoulder length, very thin, and very curly. Stopping using poo, I found them much thicker than usual, and less curly, which is great. But I had a hard time managing them getting oily. I tried to wash them with BS/ACV, but didn’t like it, and my hair kept getting oily. So I gave up and washed them with poo a week ago. I hated the reasult : my hair was thiner than it was prior to stopping using poo.
    So I’m giving no poo another try. It is now a week since I have not used poo again, and my hair is great. Not yet greassy, I hope it stays that way.

    I read all the comments, and found the boar brissle brush some of you talk about is a good idea to spred the scalps oils throughout the hair, so I have changed my hairbrush to a boar brissle hairbrush. It is a bizarre sensation while brushing with it, but I find it is much softer on my hair. My tangles used to rip my prior hairbrush’s plastic brissles off, now I don’t have that problem anymore.

    PS : My man says I smell great. Often.
    He’d rarely say it before the no soap/poo experiment.

    • Whichever brush you use, if you tend to have tangles, start by brushing out the ends and then work your way up until you can easily brush from scalp to ends.

      I actually use two brushes. After using the boar bristle (which really flattens my hair) I use my regular brush to lift the hair back up. I’d look really funny if I just left the hair pasted to my head.

  76. Hello Richard,
    I’m really amazed by the mass of comments on your soap-free experiment. That many people can’t be that wrong.
    I’m soap free for 3 weeks now, no problems yet.

    The only thing I wonder about, since I live in Germany and we have very high calcium carbonated water here, would it be okay to shower only every second day? And would you say moisturiser would be recommended? If yes what kind of?

    thank you for your help keep on doing interviews to spread the truth about a soap free live!
    Karim

    • Karim:

      Not sure, really. In places I’ve been with different levels of water hardness soft water feels smooth and hard water feels like my skin and hair are oily. But once I get dried off it all feels the same.

  77. Nobody Special says:

    No shampoo or soap or hair spray for a month; I do use hand lotions in the evening. Also, since civilization requires eternal vigilance, I wash hands at the office, and when returning home. Privates smell, but less. Scalp used to itch, and, horribly, skin used to peel around the base of the fingernails; no more. Mid-length hair used to be impossible to style — now it’s shining, and keeps itself in place without styling products. Sadly, still balding.

    I still use underarm deodorant/anti-perspirant. Will experiment without this weekend to see results.

  78. I stopped using soap and shampoo after I read your article. It’s been about 6 weeks now. My wife says I smell fine, and as a bonus, my legs don’t itch like crazy in the middle of the night any more. So, thanks, Richard!

  79. -poo-alternative from ‘old world’ recipes may help with transitional problems.

    Rye bread. Crumble couple slices in the bowl, pour boiling water over it, mush with the fork really good, add more water if needed to make a paste, apply to the wet scalp, massage and rinse thoroughly using fine comb. Works on long hair too.
    It is time consuming but result is amaaazing – healthy shiny and squeaky clean hair. Works both on dry and oily hair.

    Scrubs – made with table fine salt (personally, I don’t think baking soda is good idea for any skin ).
    So, salt could be mixed with liquid honey – for oily skin, may also work on hair.
    For dry skin – try cream or coconut oil or coconut milk. A lot of salt and little ‘solvent’ to make a paste.
    Ground almonds or oat flakes could be used, or other grains.
    Put them in good ‘ external use only’ :-)

  80. It’s been over a month since I read your article and decided to shower with water only, with no soap or shampoo. I haven’t noticed any increased oil in my hair. In fact, I always used to have deposits of fatty acids on my nose that burned, leaving my nose red, unless I cleaned with Neutrogena astringent. Now that I’ve stopped using soap on my face and shampoo in my hair, the skin on my nose is normal. I guess you really were right; I always thought I had to shampoo my hair every day or have oily hair and a red nose.

  81. I have read an article in the 80s about a woman who had really long hair and stopped using shampoo. She had similar experiences as you do. I rarely use shower gel (5 times a year maybe), although I have a shower sometimes twice or trice a day with pure water only. Body lotion, never, only aftershave lotion. My skin is quite sensitive, especially on my face, so I don’t really like those stuff poured on me.
    When I read about your post on BoingBoing I thought time has come and I can give shampooless life a try. Before this I used to wash my hair once a week, but for two months now I always wash my hair with water only when I have a shower, and it is getting better and better. It doesn’t itch, it doesn’t stick together an more, it is light and shines. I have quite a short hair, so one with longer hair should have more time to get in balance, but I tell you, it worth it.

  82. Having read your blog at the beginning of the year, I thought that I would give the whole no soap and shampoo thing a go. To me it seemed like a great opportunity to start the new decade with a clean slate, and allow my body and hair to detox. What a difference!!! Previously, I have suffered from hands so dry that my knuckles would crack and bleed. Now, they are as smooth as silk, even in this cold UK weather. My hair has never been softer, and as for the rest of my body, it is a total revelation! I have not used shower gel anywhere on my body (including private parts), and I have never felt cleaner or softer. Just one minor glitch, in that my hair started to flake quite a lot, so I just used a bar of Australian Organics soap, rubbed it over my hair and it cleared up. Hopefully, I will need to do this less and less. Now, all I have to contemplate on is my smugness at all the money I am saving on cleaning chemicals, and my contempt for the rip-off merchants who sell this stuff to the unsuspecting public, just to line their own pockets.

  83. Hello All,

    Have been reading a lot of these posts, about going without soap and shampoo. For me its about dealing with allergies right now, that cause my throat to constrict. I can not stand the smell of virtually everything without getting a reaction and feeling ill. I am tired of having my hands sting, and the same with my nose and the constriction in the throat, I had to get up last night because I couldn’t stand the soap smell along with the body lotion smell it was awful. I also have a reaction on my scalp from the shampoo. I am gluten intolerant so can not have some products near me or on me at all. So I am going to give it a shot and see how it goes. My son doesn’t wash a lot he has issues with our water where we live and washes only the little. They should be fixing the water this month, and hopefully the water will be clean, at present, it is muddy because we have had a lot of rain. We don’t go out a lot, and most times he is just dealing with me. We are both very sensitive and can not be in a lot of environments for too long. And at present am seeing the doctors a lot because of health etc…but am going to see how this works out. But I will use a micro fibre cloth for cleaning and haven’t given up my skin care products, they are okay for me, went many years without and ended up looking like a desert and aged before my years. The skin care to my face brought improvement.

    I tried putting rice bran oil on before the shower tonight, and my throat got a reaction from this. But it felt clean after I put it in my hair etc…when I got out of the shower, so this may be an option when my skin and hair feel dry, to have with an oil I can have and use. Thought about doing the aloe vera rub and then shower. We have Aloe Vera in our garden.

    The hairdresser problem might be a different story, I go to one that just cuts ur hair and they don’t want to cut it without it being washed with shampoo and conditioner. But just had it cut so I should not need to go back there for a couple of months.

  84. I came across your site through boingboing. After reading so many comments, I decided to give it a shot too. I’m Indian (brown skin, black hair) and here is my 1 month feedback. I haven’t told anyone anyone I know about this, and no one has noticed anything. So that’s good.

    I have shoulder length hair and always had problem with them being very dry. I used to apply heavy shampoo/conditioner 3 times a week, followed by moisturizing gel/oil. Since going no-poo, I have been washing with just water daily… the dryness has gone down, they feel soft and smell fine. They may not be as supermodel perfect and free-flowing as when loaded with chemicals but I feel so much better to be natural.

    My scalp has gone a bit dry and I had really bad dandruff at the 3 week point. It appears to be getting better, maybe I should experiment washing my head every other day instead of daily.

    Since I stopped using soap and moisturizers on the body, skin does feel cleaner but it feels dry and there’s slight itchiness here and there. Maybe the body is still adapting? Also, I had some body odor issues in the beginning, but that went away after the first week.

    The coconut oil some of you mentioned sounds very interesting… I considering getting some, but it feels so good to not use anything at all! It is worth mentioning that I used to apply so many products on my body, I won’t be surprised if my body takes longer to adapt than normal.

  85. Interesting post. I read a two-page spread in a UK tabloid featuring a number of women who don’t wash their hair with shampoo and found it becoming a lot softer and cleaner after.

    I think it might take me a while to get used to the idea as I do like the feeling that Head & Shoulders gives my hair, but I’m willing to try – anything natural has to be better than those chemicals.

  86. Richard, I’ve been soap-free for 2 months now after reading your post. No complaints from the wife, my friends, or my coworkers. I still use shampoo once a week though, and I’ve found that I need to use a washcloth when I’m extra sweaty. I’ve also written a post on my personal blog about the experience. Thanks for the inspiration!

  87. Jerry Smith says:

    I went soap free after I read your OP linked from BoingBoing. My results: fantastic! I noticed two good changes. Number one: I used to get acne on my butt and legs. I used all kinds of strong soaps and products, and even then barely kept it under control. Now, it is almost completely gone. I don’t waste time or money on anti-acne soaps or wipes. Two: where I live, winters are cold and my skin would get really dry, especially my hands and elbows. One of my elbows was always white and a little crusty with dry skin, even though I put lotion on it several times per day. Now, it is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. I noticed that I get a bit greasy if I skip a shower, but that’s not really a bad thing. Soap is a scam! The human body is able to keep its skin in good condition if left to its own devices.

  88. Thanks so much -been reading through your “saga” of going soap-free. I’ve just been at this four days and my fine, flyaway hair actually seems a lot healthier and more manageable already. I have used some cornstarch to absorb the extra oilyness at my scalp – works great! My body seems a tiny bit itchy (maybe psychological?) but otherwise good – I actually seem to be *less* smelly, go figure.

    As of this Monday, my only beauty products are warm water, a washcloth, and a bit of tea tree oil on the pits. It’s very freeing!

    Like other women, I’m wondering what to do about hair color – I wonder if my stylist (it’s a “natural” salon) would agree to do a shampoo-free visit? Too weird?

    On another note, I arrived at this no-soap experiment through another avenue: dental care. Talk about scams- the contents of almost all toothpaste (including the natural ones) inhibit the teeth’s natural ability to heal. We’ve ditched all toothpaste and are opting for oil-pulling and clay scrubs instead. Maybe this could be your second experiment? You can read about mine and my daughter’s (in progress) experimenting here:

    Looking forward to seeing further updates!

    • Hi Liz

      Glad it’s working for you. I do have some tree oil paste from France, I think, but most of the time I use the brush dry, i.e., don’t even wet it at all. Also, I use wooden toothpicks a lot.

  89. Let’s talk different kinds of sweat for a moment.
    first: I’ve been soap-free since the post, and continue to be amazed. How do you swallow the fact that I’ve spent thousands of dollars, running the gamut of different regular soaps, to high-tech ones, to organic ones, etc etc, and you come to the realization it was all possibly a waste of money? Yikes

    Anyway, I now use a little spray deodorant (not antiperspirant, which I used to use) and I do fine. If I sweat a little, its not too strong, and can usually hold out a few hours until I can wipe the pits down and add a touch more spray if it gets too much.

    However: if I do any activity involving, for want of a better word, fear: nerves, social anxiety, etc – I get the most rank smelling sweat that body’s natural ability and a touch of deodorant can’t stop. This is an issue for me, because I frequently do stage performance, and now am heading to my first commercial TV auditions. I don’t want to slather up on antiperspirants before things like this, and getting a little nervous is par for the course. Anybody else experience this? Any suggestions?

    Its not the ol’ “sweat contains bacteria” thing. I get nervous or anxious (even in a good way) and my body immediately excretes foul smelling fear sweat. I suppose it’s ‘natural’ but I think I’ve reached the limit of what I can tolerate as natural, if that’s the case.

    • great point…at the weekend when relaxed I don’t smell at all, but in the week I get very anxious and stressed at work and my work shirts get soaked – I don’t smell at all but my shirts really do.

      It’s a problem that means I need to use more soap and deodorant, but a good distinction to notice between anxious sweat and relaxed sweat!

    • I’m so glad to read this…you are definitely not alone…I have been experiencing this for a while and I have no clue of how to control it…I’m going try my hardest to tame it, and if it works for me, I will definitely share.

  90. Hello Rocco and All,

    Peace be with u. I know what u mean about smelling not so wonderful at times. At present I am still going through illness and I have been getting a medical procedure done fortnightly in the hospital. I also have been going to the Chiroprator who touches my head and scalp, etc….so I needed to be smelling fine and have a clean head and hair. And also the corn starch is also good powder etc…as someone commented on. But for me I am extremely sensitive and if I put on anything at present like corn starch, my throat and muscles consticts at the voice box and this is painful. So what I use is this, Apple Cider Vinegar in warm water. I pour over my head and over my body and then I do a rinse under the shower and a wash with a micro fibre cloth that u don’t need soap, and also a nail brush. I put this rinse on all the difficult and stinky areas etc. This has helped me not only be really clean enough for hospital, so no bacteria can have its way, and lead to an infection. And this has not only worked for the hospital but also for the Chiro and other doctors have been to. It also softens my hair and skin as well. My skin was really dry etc…on my face and for a time feels really dry, until my skin starts to feel soft, so I use straight aloe vera from the garden on my face, leave this on and then rinse it off.

    U could also try different herbs as well to rinse water.

    And I also use tea tree anti deodorant as well, which helps.

    I also use a nail brush to keep my hands clean throughout the day and use no soap to wash my hands even after the toilet. I read that soap still can’t stop germs etc…so I scrub with a soft nail brush and the only times my hands touch any sort of detergent is to wash up, and use the earth friendly dishwashing liquid.

    Hope the audition works well.

    For me its going to be a long road to recovery of seeing a multiple of specialists, so I am going need at times, more than just water. I only use the apple cider vinegar if I am going some where and need to be really clean, particularly the areas that are going to be touched by others. And I go to a just cuts hairdresser, who do not shampoo hair if u already wash it. So if it can pass their test of not knowing that we don’t shampoo, and my hair can pass the hospital’s as well as the Chiro’s touch test, then the apple cider vinegar is a winner. It also is like a conditioner as well, leaving my hair shining and soft when it dries.

    By the way, I also have nervous system problems too, so the apple cider vinegar passes that test as well.

    Hope ur auditions go well for you.

  91. jennifer says:

    wow!! I’m fascinated. I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone doing this before, but now that oyu mention it, it all makes sense!! I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much I’ve come to rely on having a hot shower every day, and I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t really need that as much as I think I do. Thus, I have started to cut back a bit. However, it hadn’t dawned on me to cut out soap as well! Yet, it seems like the natural next step. I think I’ll start tomorrow!
    :)

    I am a little worried in that i have acne and use a medicated acne soap (altho I have already cut back drastically on the number of other creams and products i put on there), and I am a little intimidated by the idea of giving that up, just because I get so self-concious with the flare-ups. We will see. I may start out just doing ever other day, then every 3 days, etc until I get used to it.

    Truly excited about the no shampoo bit though—actually come to think of it, I wonder if all the chemicals I put on my hair have anything to do with the irritation on my face?? hmm.

    Will check back and let you know how it goes!! thanks so much for enlightening me to this!!

  92. Hillary says:

    I read this posting a couple months ago and decided to go soap free. I echo the sentiments of so many people here – soap-free is fantastic. I wash in the Roman fashion – I just rub down with olive oil in the shower and rinse it off. My skin is super soft and I do not smell at all. To those of you who are still using soap on your privates and pits – I really urge you to try going without. I smell MUCH better since I stopped using soap. I very rarely get noticeable b.o. and if I go a couple days between showers I do not smell at all. Your skin is a large organ of protection – stop treating it like the floor! It needs gentle care, not a thorough scrub-down.

    Before I stopped using soap, my skin was constantly dry and itchy. I would emerge from the shower with bright red skin which would take about an hour to finally settle down. I no longer have that problem. I am less prone to sunburns too.

    And, finally, I just must add that it feels great to be free from “products.”

  93. Hillary! I was going to ask everyone about sunburns! I am very fair, and have been soap-free (including pits, etc) for a little over a month. Barring major issues, I don’t think I will ever go back. I have been using jojoba oil, a touch of tea tree oil, warm water, & washcloth.

    I was SHOCKED when I went to a giant outdoor festival for 3 hrs in the blazing sun. Totally forgot to slather myself in sunscreen. I should have been a lobster, an instead there was absolutely no trace of a burn. None. I have no idea what to make of it — except that it MUST have to do with not soaping up. Anyone know what that’s all about

    The no ‘poo thing? I’m feeling less sure. My hair still goes through greasy bouts, and I’m getting some dandruff which I’ve never had before. Frustrating. I’m really unsure of how to work through this — the lure of my nice aveda shampoo sitting in the cabinet is getting strong!

    Liz

  94. Liz: have you tried using a fine tooth comb? once a week or more if necessary, run a fine tooth comb through your hair to distribute the oil and remove the clumps of random pillow fluff etc!

  95. Hillary says:

    Liz, I think that soap or the residue it leaves behind must somehow leave skin more vulnerable to burns. I have a long Texas summer ahead of me, so we’ll see. Although, I must say, sunscreens have only ever given me very negligible protection. My guess is that the skins own NATURAL oils offer perfectly adequate sun protection. I mean, doesn’t that just make sense?

    The trick to going no poo is to let your hair go through an “adjustment” phase. I did with lots of scarves and buns, but it did eventually work. And just like going without soap, there was no smell. I let my hair air dry and then use a boar bristle brush.

    It’s amazing how much we are lead to believe that we need soaps, shampoos, scrubs, lotions, masks, etc, just to have good hygiene. Once you ditch all that stuff, it is so obvious how horribly women are over-marketed to.

    I am now convinced that all that stuff makes any sort of odor or hair problem you have much, much worse. I used to freak out if I realized I had left the house without deodorant. Now I rarely ever feel the need for it.

    I also think women are way overly paranoid about ANY sort of scent down there that they tend to over-wash with harsh detergents. That only makes things worse. Your body will naturally keep things in balance for you – you don’t need a harsh scented detergent. Men are also taught to be paranoid about the possibility of smelling bad. I saw an ad (youtube – funny too) for a special scrubby sponge thing made by Axe and it was just for use of washing the balls. I mean, how hilarious is that? The message of the ad was basically that women will not go anywhere near your balls unless you use this scouring pad and cologne soap on them every day.

  96. amy o in yokohama says:

    A couple of posters have commented that they had trouble getting b.o./sweat smell out of shirts.
    That’s the place to use the poo! Seriously–shampoo is the best stuff to get smells out of clothes. I discovered this when my middle son was toilet training and having *lots* of accidents. His urine smells really strong, and his underwear used to smell even after going through the wash. Discovered this totally by accident–we were out one day and I had a trial size bottle of shampoo in the diaper bag that I had pulled out of the mailbox and just shoved in there (rather than haul back up 3 flights of stairs). He had an accident (pee and some poop), and I thought “great, now what”. Looked at the trial size bottle and thought, why not? Better than just sticking those smelly pants down in my bag. Washed the pants out with the shampoo–absolutely no smell. Poop, pee, vomit, sweat stains on t-shirts–all those smells came out. My daughter barfed (spaghetti, of course, for that Jackson Pollock look) all over the blanket she was lying on two weeks ago. Picked it up, threw it in the shower, cleaned her up and back to bed. Back to the blankie–picked off all the chunks, squirted it liberally with Lux, scrubbed the way your great-grandmama would, rinsed it with the shower, into the washing machine, dried it in the sun. No stain, absolutely no smell. If you have left-over shampoo, keep a little around for smelly stains and guests:)

  97. Very interesting. I’ve been shampoo- and soap-free for about two months (save for my private parts and feet). I have no body odour and my dandruff, which got worse initially, is now subsiding, although this may partly be due to my new habit of slathering coconut oil on my scalp every other day.

    Some of you have referred to the Ancient Greece custom of using olive oil to cleanse the skin. Greeks would, I believe, cover themselves with a mix of sand and olive oil after they’d stepped out of the “hot” room (which was similar to today’s sauna). They would then use a strigil, or curved metal tool, to scrape it off.

    Anyone use a similar method today? The soap-less experiment has worked very well for me so far, but I love saunas, and I understand many toxins are released with the sweat, so it seems to me that either soap or a Greek-style mix would work very well after.

  98. I stopped using soap about 3 months ago, and I have to agree with others who claim it’s done wonders for their skin. I used to suffer from moderate body acne, keratosis pilaris, and combination dry/oily skin. After about a month of my skin going crazy, it’s better than it’s ever been in my life: no acne, no keratosis pilaris, no dry scaly patches or greasy nose – it’s just soft, healthy and glowing. In the light, it actually has this satiny sheen like well polished wood – instead of being dull looking. Has anyone else noticed this? I’m pretty sure it’s just my skin’s natural oil, and it looks great.

    I’ve been no poo for more like 6 months, and ditto, my hair looks healthier than it ever has.

    I still use soap for hand-washing, and a light, natural conditioner to detangle my hair (it’s really, really curly), but that’s it. I’ll never go back to using soap or “beauty” products of any kind. It’s kind of amazing that we’ve all been convinced we need this stuff, and it’s actually causing the problems it’s supposed to fix. What a scam.

  99. I’ve been no soap or poo for about 9 months now. Everything’s great except for underarm smell. I’m trying to avoid using antiperspirant, just deodorant, and it’s simply not enough. Not only is it not enough, but I can douse myself with spray or stick deodorant – and I’ve tried a dozen different kinds – and within an hour I’m starting to sweat and it INSTANTLY smells.

    Could it be diet? I’d hate to start using soap in my pits, or brain-killing antiperspirant again.

  100. I had the underarm smell propblem when I tried using coconut oil or baking powder or nothing at all – it just didnt work.

    Now I use ‘Pit rock’ spray on natural deoderant with a bacteriostatic action and it works brilliantly! Definitely try it.

  101. I tried the natural crystal type (mineral salts). That worked, but not perfectly. I’ve found that a quick shot with the crystal plus a squirt of regular alcohol deodorant is enough to keep my pits from stinking under nearly all conditions! yay!

  102. Anna Delin says:

    Just thought I’d add a Swedish perspective to the no-soap issue. Here, the *official* advice is actually to never use soap on your private parts, only water.

    Regarding the no-poo discussion, I remember that my grandmother (born 1916) used to wash her hair once every two weeks and also told me that the way to get great looking hair is to brush it with 100 sweeps every evening. Her hair never looked greasy.

  103. Just some basic chemistry for the baking soda-insead-of-soap crowd. An alkali dissolved in water + a fatty acid = soap, so what is happening when you wash your hair with baking soda (an alkali) is that you are saponifiying the sebum (fatty acid) on your scalp (making a kind of soap), which then allows the sebum to be washed down the drain by the water. As a fiber artist, I know that alkalies are damaging to protein fibers (like lotion depilitories and perms), and human hair is nothing but another kind of protein fiber, like wool or silk. Acid, on the other hand, has no damaging effect on protein fibers…as a matter of fact, the way they clean wool in industry is to soak it in a bath of sulfuric acid. The process, called “carbonizing”, destroys plant fibers like burrs and grains that are caught in the wool, but leaves the wool untouched.

  104. So are you recommending Sulfuric Acid as a shampoo? Im going to try it before waiting for your answer, thanks!

    • LOL…do you have lots of grass and burrs in your hair that you need to carbonize ;) ? I should have clarified…I am a no-poo-er, and I have hair to my waist.

      • On occasion. :D

        So baking soda is a bad idea then? Would something acidic work better?

  105. Its not that it is a “bad idea”, just that baking soda, too, can damage hair because its an alkali and I thought that folks might want to be aware of that. On the plus side, baking soda is chemical/scent free, and that is a good thing. But as far as I know only an alkali or a detergent will get grease out of your hair or wool, depending on what genus and species you are ;) . I occationally use baking soda/water, followed by a vinegar/water rinse, but I keep seldom and only use it if my hair really needs it. As far as I know, an acid like vinegar (note: NOT sulfuric acid!!!) won’t clean (de-grease) hair, but it would be good if the person has a yeast infection of the scalp, which can cause itching and flakes.

    Btw, you might want to check out the “aquatic ape” theory of human origins, if you haven’t heard of it.

    • p.s. When they carbonize the burrs, etc. with sulfuric acid, it is AFTER it has been shorn from the sheep! They carbonize WOOL, not SHEEP!

  106. After undertaking the experiment at the beginning of the year, I’ve given up on the “no ‘poo” restriction. My hair and scalp just never seemed to adjust. The oil production of my scalp and forehead remained high, and my hair was always stiff, waxy, and greasy looking, and made it quite apparent how much my hair has thinned. If I touched my hair, my fingers would feel greasy. My pillowcases suffered the most, showing large round stains in only a few days after washing.

    So I’m back to a quick wash every morning with baby shampoo. Otherwise, I continue to wash with hot water, and the rest of my skin seems to be fine.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] hudvårdsprodukt Jag är inte beredd att gå lika långt som Richard Nikoley på “Free the animal”- att helt sluta med tvål och schampo - men att minimera alla konstiga tillsatser i hud- och hårvårdsprodukter måste vara rätt väg [...]

  2. [...] folks on the forum have shared their experiences, and I’d definitely recommend checking out Richard’s experiment at Free the Animal. The poo-less movement has caught enough media attention that even more conventionally-minded [...]

  3. [...] folks on the forum have shared their experiences, and I’d definitely recommend checking out Richard’s experiment at Free the Animal. The poo-less movement has caught enough media attention that even more conventionally-minded [...]

  4. [...] are some links to success stories: Free the Animal Mark’s Daily Apple Forum The Mommy Files [...]