Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo

12/31/09: Welcome boingboing readers and a hearty thanks to Mark Frauenfelder for the feature. For those interested in the dietary and fitness aspects, check out the Overview, and also see results from some of the readers.

01/04/11: Welcome again boingboing fans, a bit more than a year later. Thanks to Sean Bonner for the link and congrats on his success. I still have no idea why it works so marvelously for some, marginally or not at all for others (though I think they are decidedly minority given the many comments and emails). At any rate, I had tweeted Mark Frauenfelder and emailed him about an update post I did just a few days ago, so this is opportune and coincidental. Here it is: A Most Successful Self-Experiement: Over 18 Months Soap and Shampoo Free. For those who might be interested in the other aspects of my "Free the Animal" life way…such as fat loss, strength gain, awesome sleep, getting off meds & more, stay tuned for a beginners primer at the top of the blog by Friday, 1/7.


Well it’s over six months, now, and I really don’t want to do this post.

Why? Cause it’s too weird, I fear. We don’t live in caves without modern convenience, I’d not want to, and I loath the possibility of paleo becoming a Luddite-esque religion. I blogged about that (The Paleo Principle is Neither Authoritative nor Dogmatic), and it got picked up by Sisson in a Weekend Link Love issue.

So, I guess, take this with a grain of salt. I’m merely reporting on my own experience.

I haven’t used soap or shampoo anyplace on my body for six months, save hand washing in advance of food prep. That’s it. let me just report my observations and leave you to judge.

  • Took about two weeks to normalize. That is, I felt my hair was greasy and skin oily up to then.
  • Now it’s intermittent. It’s perhaps a function of water hardness, but sometimes skin and hair feel squeaky clean, and other times indeterminate.
  • Even when I feel greasy/oily in the shower with just water, once everything dies out, it’s always all the same — fine; soft & dry.
  • My skin & hair have never been softer. Never.
  • If anything, my hair is less "greasy" than ever, yet shampoo hasn’t touched it in over six months.
  • Private parts. Have to address this, of course. This is the biggest benefit of all. Surprised? You’ll just have to try it, because I’m not going to elaborate. That’s why they call them "private parts." OK, a clue: maybe it’s the constant cleansing that’s the cause of the sweaty-stinky problem in the first place? If for nothing else, I’m soap free for life on this point alone. I feel as though I’ve been scammed — and liberated. I can’t explain further. You’ll just have to try.
  • You’ll save a lot of money, especially you chicks. Grils: you can Google about no shampoo. Lotsa links.

I could go on, but ultimately you’re gonna self-experiment or not. But if you do, give it at least a month. Weirdness cleared up for me in two weeks or less, but we’re not all the same. I suspect that women who wash furiously and slather all manner of lotions might take a year or two to normalize.

Alright, I know this is out there and it has NOTHING to do with anyone’s success in a paleo plan and should not be taken as even necessarily desirable. I will surely not expect anyone to try it. And you can have at me if you want. I’m just saying that I’ve tried it, I waited a long time to mention it, and in the end, I’ll never use soap or shampoo on anything but my hands for the rest of my life.

Later, and maybe TMI: My wife now mentions more than ever before that "you smell good." OK, I had to post that only because some might worry on that score….

If you liked this or found it interesting, please tell your Facebook friends and/or Twitter followers by clicking the buttons at the top

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.


  1. Mikko on December 29, 2009 at 00:00

    Nice, I also stopped using a soap six months ago. I always had quite oily hair, and I was quite nervous to try it out back then. It worked wonders. Other thing worth trying out is to lower the water temperature when showering. I found out that it retains some of the “good oil” on the skin. So my showers in the morning usually begin with a few minute workout/warm-up, then quick normal shower followed by 15-30 s very cold shower (targeting shoulders/back/chest, avoiding head). This gives you quite a nice shock, and probably stimulates some secretion of hormones :) Think you’re the Stone Age man catching his morning fish from some ice cold river…

    I think that this “not using soap” goes in the same category as squat-shitting: I found that, after some logical thinking, both are more natural behaviors. But still I wouldn’t be advertising these things to all my relatives :)

    Greatest thing you can do to your skin is to forget soap, shower with not too hot water, oil yourself with virgin coconut oil from time to time and eat it every day. And do some some face workouts to better the skin of the face: (check out the other Lalanne videos too).

    • ERF on January 7, 2010 at 15:17

      Mikko, I’ve been considering going no-soap and was wondering about water temps – I love hot showers because I’m one of those females that are always cold, even when others are sweating, but I know that hot water is more drying to the skin and I have dry skin issues.

      Anyway, this spurred me to do some research, and I found some information here:

      Even though this article was written in 1904, it seems to be substantiated by what you and other people saying. It probably just confirms your own experiences…Plus a small work-out in the morning seems to be beneficial to your overall health as well. I am becoming more and more convinced that I need to try this myself. I like your idea about a “normal” shower followed by a short burst of cold – I think I might be able to handle that…The idea of a cold shower seems extremely uncomfortable to me.


  2. anon on December 28, 2009 at 19:24

    Couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve been experimenting with this for a couple of months and have to say that my old dry cracked skin has cleared up nicely. Only time my skin dries up now is when I do use soap. Haven’t let on my secret to my wife yet, but she has not said a word (and believe me, she would if I stunk).

    A fellow money saver with better skin because of it.

  3. Alcinda Moore on December 28, 2009 at 19:28

    I haven’t used soap on my face in years. My aunt had wonderful skin at age 90 and said she never used soap, just plain water. I rarely use make-up, so that’s one problem I don’t have to worry about….but even when I do, warm water takes care of it nicely.

    I thought about doing the no shampoo deal, but I color my hair, so I have no choice but to shampoo….at least every few weeks when I recolor. I only shampoo about once a week, so it’s a start.

    Truthfully, I never thought about not using soap on my body, but I haven’t used deodorant in a long time…..I find I really don’t need it! Big difference from my younger days when I’d use Mitchum!! But then again, back then I was always sticking my armpits in someone’s face (I’m a nurse), so was more aware of it.

  4. Jeanie Campbell on December 28, 2009 at 19:28

    Yay!! I’ve been “poo”-free for 11 days now. I’ve used baking soda/water to wash and apple cider vinegar/water to rinse twice so far. My hair (past my shoulders) has responded extremely well. My husband is also in it with me. Funny, though, I never thought to stop using soap on my body. Hmmm, maybe will need to try that as well. Glad to hear it’s working so well for you!!

  5. Jason on December 28, 2009 at 19:30

    what about people that use hair product such as gel though? without shampoo that will sit in your hair

    • Richard Nikoley on December 28, 2009 at 19:36

      Can’t tell you Jason. Nothing I’ve ever loather more than hair products. All I’d say if you want to try this is to make sure they are water soluble. If that’s the case, no prob — except how that might affect the oil level from the fact of the substance. Otherwise, water will wash it al out.

    • Don Matesz on December 29, 2009 at 08:46


      People who want a “natural” hair gel, I suggest pure aloe vera gel. No junk and moistens the hair.

    • Darcy Fitzpatrick on December 31, 2009 at 12:56


      I went shampoo-free for close to a year many moons ago (scalp problems forced me back into it) and found that once my hair got over the two-week initial oily phase, it was both soft AND pliable. Where my hair is so fine, I find after I shampoo I absolutley must use product or I wind up with flat, wispy hair that falls straight with no shape or style. Without shampoo, I could make my hair do whatever I wanted, and it was still soft and healthy to the touch.

    • Gershom on January 2, 2010 at 06:10

      If they don’t wanna use soap or shampoo, do you really think that hair gel use is an issue????

    • Unamused Mouse on October 11, 2010 at 10:34

      Try using 100% pure aloe gel (clear – not the green stuff) as gel. Works great and you can find it in large bottles at Wal-Mart, etc.

  6. Grok on December 28, 2009 at 19:31

    It is a weird one.

    I have not been using conventional bar soaps, shampoos, or deodorant for about 5-6 months (vary rarely when not at home).

    I’ve been using saponified oils for washing both my body and hair. I only wash my hair about once a week (maybe every two weeks), and generally only wash my privates and armpits. Everything seems better to me.

    I partake in many dirty/greasy activities, so it would be pretty hard to ditch soap completely. Cool that you have :) Skin is the largest organ of the human body. Slathering it up with a bunch of chemicals can not be a good idea.

    • Plasmator on December 31, 2009 at 10:28

      I hate to break it to you, but ‘saponified oils’ is another word for – Soap.

      ‘Saponification’ is the process by which fatty acids are converted to soap.

      Look it up.

      • watou on December 31, 2009 at 10:47

        Yes, but “saponified oils” may be soap, but what we now call soap is usually not soap at all, but instead made from petroleum products. Here is a very entertaining video explaining the difference:

      • Mora on January 14, 2010 at 14:23

        Haha, awesome reply. Knowledge is power!

  7. Brian on December 28, 2009 at 20:09

    What a coincidence! I’ve been wondering about this for a couple months now – if the same ideas about paleo that work for the diet would also work for bathing.

    Richard, can you provide a few more details:

    1. How often do you bathe with hot water, and for how long each session?

    2. Do you use any sort of wash towel or scrubber to exfoliate, or anything else in the shower besides hot water?

    3. Are you using deodorant at all? If so, how often?

    4. If no to 3, do your armpits reek like those one stereotypically associates with not bathing. For example, I got stuck in a dorm room with an Indian who smelled unbelievably bad and stunk the room permanently. He claimed to bathe regularly and use deodorant, but then I don’t understand what caused the horrible, nauseating, repugnant odor. Your thoughts on this?

    • Richard Nikoley on December 28, 2009 at 20:50


      How often is once per day — twice usually when I have a workout at the gym — unless a morning workout when that’s may shower for the day. Length just depends.Sometimes I like barely warm and other times hot. But usually not for more than a few minutes. That’s another thing. Showers are just relax time. No real work, anymore.

      No exfoliation at all, except fingernails. I find that in the winter when I begin to wear long pants I get some ingrown hairs on the thighs. I scrape ’em away with fingernails. If they bleed, they bleed.

      I do use an Old Spice stick deodorant. Never, ever an anti-persperant in my life.

      4. Too much curry?

      On that last point, when I was a navy officer doing lots of work with Koreans in the S China Seas, we used to note that when they came aboard there was a distinct smell. We always attributed it to the Kim-chi they ate, spiced with lots of garlic. Probably what you eat has some bearing on how you smell.

      • Nige on December 29, 2009 at 06:02

        When I eat anything from the Allium family (onions, garlic etc), my armpits reek, even after I’ve washed them. On karaoke nights, I have to avoid eating anything Allium-based earlier in the day.

      • Jedidja on December 29, 2009 at 06:26

        Yes. and it ties into #4 question above. There are definitely foods that will make a lot of people have some kind of body odor.

      • Chris on December 30, 2009 at 05:14

        When Europeans first started visiting Japan, the Japanese complained that they smelled like animal fat. Everybody smells.

      • Eli on December 31, 2009 at 12:40

        throughout college and sometimes in high school I just did not bathe regularly. Every other day was the most often, and that was in summer. I worked out, hard. I rarely wore deodorant. I did use scented oil when I shaved my face and kept my body hair trim – and I smelled good. Weird, I know, but my female friends and girlfriends and, yes, some gay friends were totally in love with my smell.

        I think it’s because of the exercise and young-man-pheromones. The healthier you are the better you smell. And yeah, everyone stinks from their food – eat lots of veggies and pineappley fruits and you’re going to smell less. Eat too much meat and you’ll be pungent.

      • Jack Christopher on March 15, 2010 at 17:17

        Yep, curry in particular, kills your armpits.

      • Dana on May 11, 2010 at 17:39

        Coming in late on this, but–

        A few years ago I was reading an article about a city in the U.S. (don’t remember which) where there were both a large African immigrant and a large African-American population. The article talked about how they interacted with one another and about some of the feelings the AA folks had about the immigrants–you know, the whole “you are from my ancestral land, how do I relate to this” kind of thing.

        One of the bits they mentioned was that to the immigrants, the AAs smelled very different. They weren’t sure what to make of that. I believe it was attributed to the differences in eating habits.

        Just another data point. And yeah, I believe what you eat makes a difference in how you smell. Just cutting sugar out of your diet can change your smell. I’ve heard all kinds of stories, for instance, about people who went no-sugar and suddenly mosquitoes stopped bothering them.

      • Chris on October 12, 2010 at 04:25

        Yes, Koreans consume a lot of garlic and I have heard this.

        On the flip side, many Asians will tell you that they think caucasians smell of cheese :D

        So diet really does play a big part I think.

    • JUPITER BOONE on December 29, 2009 at 10:34


      • Michael on December 29, 2009 at 18:50

        Hmmm….well then you know what that implies about private parts…..:-)

      • JUPITER BOONE on December 30, 2009 at 07:08

        The awnser to that is also yes :-0

      • NikFromNYC on December 31, 2009 at 21:51

        I made a huge breakthrough with deodorant use. Cologne companies almost all make a deodorant version of their fragrances, usually a gel stick, but they charge $14-$17 each (!). I found that using their spray cologne as deodorant works wonders. I wonder how much it has to do with the lack of additives versus merely how much more concentrated it is. It’s amazing how at a stage in an active day at which I just know I’d not be able to stand being around myself, I still smell like flowers.

      • Chris on January 2, 2010 at 01:22

        NikFromNYC – the alcohol in the cologne kills the bacteria that make you “stink” – if you rub hand sanitizer on your pits – the same thing will happen.

      • LoboSolo on August 12, 2010 at 21:16

        Lemon juice will do the same thing. Cut a slice and squeeze the juice out.

      • Madog on August 17, 2010 at 03:20

        Nick, I wouldn’t do that, Cologne’s are full of toxic chemicals that enter the body through the skin. Many of the chemicals are not even listed on the packaging. For a natural deodorant go to the Akoma website their is a recipe on making pure and natural deodorant using no chemicals whatsoever only natural organic ingredients.

    • Brianna on December 31, 2009 at 15:32

      Your roommate may have eaten too much garlic. If you eat a lot it will start coming out of your pores and one person can stink up a very large room. It has a horrible chemical smell, not like B.O.

    • Jim on January 1, 2010 at 12:02

      #4—I would be willing to bet the smell was from his clothes. If it reeked even when he wasn’t there, he wasn’t doing laundry very often.

  8. Michael on December 28, 2009 at 20:34

    Later, and maybe TMI: My wife now mentions more than ever before that “you smell good.” OK, I had to post that only because some might worry on that score….

    LOL! As I was reading the above was the first thing that came to mind. I was all ready to comment until I saw your addendum. :-)

    I have read this off and on over the years from various authors but never tried it. I do however make my own shampoos with coconut soap and herbs and the difference has been amazing. I also notice a difference when I use the shampoo for soap on other body parts.

    I will have to take it to the next level and go without soap at all (except for hair – my homemade shampoo helped stop the thinning and my hair filled back in).

    I don’t think your post is weird at all. One of the old time herbal axioms (yes I am deeply into the use of herbs for serious disease) is that if you can’t eat or drink it, don’t put it on your skin, since your body is quite capable of absorbing things through your skin.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 28, 2009 at 20:54

      Now, see, that’s weird to me. :) I’ve never understood the pineapple and coconut oil treatments. In general, I’ve always loathed any substance on my skin apart from soap in washing. I’ve almost never even used any hand lotion.

      I’ve always laughed at my wife and other women who take a shower and then inundate their skin with perfumed substances.

      They call it “cream.” Why would one want cream on their skin? :)

      • Michael on December 29, 2009 at 13:07

        LOL! :-) I use saponified coconut, not coconut oil for soap. However I do like using coconut oil for my skin after a shower. Just another avenue for saturated fats. :-) But my diet makes for very soft skin.

    • Bill Beaty on December 31, 2009 at 12:38

      My wife now mentions… “You Smell Good”

      Watch out with that.

      From personal experience I’ve found that, if your significant other loathes your smell, then paleo will greatly amplify the problem!

      Similar topic: how much of attraction is smell/pheremonal?

      I recall old articles about divorce prediction: if one or both people in a relationship didn’t like their loved one’s natural smell, then chances of divorce were quite high. Paleo might greatly alleviate this problem, since if we never disguised or removed our natural odor, then couples with incompatible smells would never hook up in the first place.

      • Dana on May 11, 2010 at 17:44

        Relatedly, ladies, if you are on the Pill then watch out because apparently, it affects how you perceive the smell of the man in your life.

        Best route, if you must be on the thing, is don’t go on it til you are settled down with a guy. Obviously this wouldn’t apply to women using it for therapeutic purposes but if you’ve been paleo long enough, the chances for that are probably diminished.

    • William on December 31, 2009 at 13:48

      “I will have to take it to the next level and go without soap at all (except for hair – my homemade shampoo helped stop the thinning and my hair filled back in).”

      Michael, can you tell me more about your homemade shampoo that stopped your hair from thinning?

  9. Monica Hughes on December 28, 2009 at 20:56

    “Skin is the largest organ of the human body. Slathering it up with a bunch of chemicals can not be a good idea.”

    I agree. I’ve been thinking lately about this. A lot of the moisturizers that women use (including me) have an omega 6 oil base,like soy oil. I don’t think this can be good and I think it probably may contribute to health problems. Lately I’ve been doing some thinking about making my own coconut, olive, and palm oil based moisturizers. (I already do that for soaps.) However, the only area where I haven’t “converted” is in my facial moisturizer and makeups… that one may be tough. I just really like commercial products. However, I do think that it is worth thinking about.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 28, 2009 at 21:02

      I have no idea how long it would take for a woman who has been slathering for decades. I’ve never put anything on my skin after the shower since Clearasil as a teenager with zits (wonder why…).

      My skin has always been pretty soft and then hella soft once I began taking K2, like overnight and sometimes ridiculously soft. Bea now tells me that I have perfect skin. Perfect, and I think she’s right.

    • redcatbicycliste on December 29, 2009 at 01:51

      Just like the inside of your body likes saturated fats, the outside likes it, too. Cacao butter (which you can eat) is a high saturated fat that the skin just loves…at least my skin does.

      A good oil for to put on one’s face is rosehip seed oil. There are claims, if you use it consistently for a few weeks that it is rejuvenating, wrinkle-reducing. I find that it does wondesr for my skin–although, wrinkles have never been (probably won’t be, if the women and men in my family are any indication) a problem for me.

      Years and years and years ago I stopped using commercial/manufactured skin- and hair-care products. Really, a lot of that stuff is not about “care”; even the natural or organic products are harmful–many of them still contain parabens.

      So many cultures have made good use of food for their skin and hair.

      I forget which people it is that did this: Slather olive oil over their skin, then with an edge (like a dull knife or a flat implement made of bone or shell) scrape the oil, from bottom to top, to clean the “dirt” off. (In the novel, “Wicked”, because she could not have water touch her body, the author described a similar method that the Wicked Witch of the West used to clean her skin.) Sometimes, after I’ve bathed in a tub of water with sea salt and a few drops of an essential oil added, while my skin is still damp, I’ll pour some olive oil on to a damp washcloth (for exfoliation) and run that all over my body–you wouldn’t believe the dead skin cells that come off during one of those sessions.

      • Ann on December 29, 2009 at 03:08

        the greeks did this olive oil treatment, I would guess many Mediterranean cultures also did this. I also remember hearing about some HGs in Africa that would make a special “spa trip” to certain plants for exfoliation and moisturizing. The women would go in groups and treat themselves and each other. I think it was some kind of reed thing for the exfoliation and some melon or nut thing for the moisturizer.

      • redcatbicycliste on December 29, 2009 at 07:38

        The “nut thing for the moisturizer” is [probably] shea nut butter (the French call it karite, I think). It is a great moisturizer–it keeps me from getting the “winter itchies” — which is ironic, given that shea butter is an near-equatorial African product. I have been through a few brands; the best that I have found is one made by a company called Ah Shayh.

      • Annie on January 29, 2010 at 22:47

        Yes, the Romans did it too.

        Roman bathing was actually rather ingenious: first, the pores were opened in the sauna, then the Roman’s slave would slather them in olive oil and scrape it off with a strigil. Then a massage (sweet!) and a dip into a mildly cold pool for a rinse. Sometimes, a dip in a frosty pool after than to seal the pores.

        Olive oil is great on your skin, the Roman bathing system still works well…

    • RD on January 1, 2010 at 09:09

      Monica, I used to use a chemical free line of skin care products, but hated the expense and wanted something even more natural. As an esthetician, I understand cosmetic chemistry, and knew that natural oils are best for the skin, and that most commercial products don’t contain them, or not in high enough levels to do any good. So I made my own moisturizer from organic extra-virgin olive oil, aloe vera gel, and a little tea-tree oil, and it’s been amazing. My skin is better than it’s ever been – so soft and clear. I have combination oily skin that is prone to occasional hormonal breakouts, but since using EVOO my skin hasn’t been oily at all.

      People with oily skin have it because their skin is actually dry – the lack of moisture causes the skin to produce excess sebum to make up for it, which causes the person to strip the oil off their skin, and the skin reacts by producing even more oil, and so on. Using oil to moisturize feeds the skin and it stops producing so much oil. Coconut oil is a good moisturizer too, but I found that it wasn’t quite rich enough to keep my skin moisturized all day.

      There is a short transition period when you stop using the commercial stuff, but your skin quickly normalizes and you wonder how you ever did it any other way. As for makeup, switching to mineral makeup has made all the difference in the world. It has natural SPF protection, is water soluble, and actually helps feed your skin, besides looking completely natural and not at all like “makeup”.

      • William S Dean on January 1, 2010 at 09:26


        What’s the ratio you use for your olive oil, aloe vera gel, tea-tree oil moisturizer? Inquiring minds, you know.

      • RD on January 19, 2010 at 12:27


        I didn’t measure when I made it – I mixed it intuitively, which is also how I cook. But I’d say 1/2 cup EVOO with 2-3 Tbls. of aloe, and 5-6 drops of Tea Tree should do it. You really can’t mess it up – if you find that it’s not as moisturizing as you’d like, cut the aloe a bit. Rose oil also makes a great additive, for very dry or sensitive skin.

        Hope that helps

    • Paige on January 2, 2010 at 16:40

      I’ve always suffered from dry, sensetive skin and went through oodles of facial cleansers and lotions.
      You say you use oils on your body already, use them on your face too!
      I found some recipes by Googling “Oil Cleansing Method”. I use a mixture of 10% Castor Oil and 90% Almond Oil. (The castor is a must because it’s a cleanser). I smear it on my face and then put a warm/hot wash cloth on my face and wipe it off. If my face feels like tight I use a little Almond Oil as lotion.
      My skin has never looked more supple and healthy. No more dry skin, even in a Midwest winter!
      Give it a try :)

      • Marnee on January 9, 2010 at 19:02

        I have acne and I do this and I love it. I use half castor and half coconut oil and coconut oil as a moisturizer. My skin looks much better. If I use anything with glycerine or “acne treating” whatevers I start to break out way more.

        Coconut oil also makes a nice hair treatment.

  10. Deanna on December 28, 2009 at 21:15

    Wow, this is simultaneously earth-shattering and yet completely logical. I seriously color my hair and can’t stand the nasty, straw-like feeling I get when I wash my hair every day. Right now I’m on my third day without washing, which is usually pretty good for me, but after this post, I’ll see if I can extend it longer.

    I find that my hair needs less product to style, but it doesn’t look dirty or nasty.

    I also wear makeup regularly, and not always lightly, either, but I wonder if I could get away with washing gently in the evening and then just splashing water on my face in the morning. Especially in the winter weather, that might be something to try.

    Of course, now what am I going to do with all that pretty-smelling stuff in my bathroom?

    • Richard Nikoley on December 28, 2009 at 21:20

      Yea, Deanna, don’t know what to tell ya. I didn’t even realize the HUGE complications for women until I posted this and then started getting a clue from the comments.

      I suppose it’s an idictment on men. How sad that women feel the need to make themselves up every day. I suppose for many, they just like it — and a few transies too…:) and more power to ’em.

      Wow, well I’m just going to stay light hearted about this can of worms and hope I don’t say anything too offensive to the grils.

      • Monica Hughes on December 28, 2009 at 22:23

        Hi Richard. I don’t these comments are in the least offensive.

        Personally, I don’t think this is any indictment on men. I bet my husband wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t wash my hair for two weeks. hahahah. :)

        No, I just like beauty products — particularly those that are scent-free or made with essential oils. And honestly, given the tens of thousands of years that women have been adorning themselves (with jewelry and clothing, at least), I don’t think beautification is at all at odds with evolution… I do think it’s wise to be mindful of the health and wellness effects that these products (or the lack of them) have on our bodies, though. So that’s why I do appreciate this post and the comments!

        As for body odor… my opinion is that some people smell, some people don’t. It’s honestly that simple. I used to date a Chinese guy who never wore or needed deodorant. His body odor was actually sweet. My husband doesn’t wear or need deodorant, either. Me, on the other hand… Trust me, it would be a really frightening day for all those within 5 feet of me if I did not wear deodorant…. my body odor didn’t change one iota with my diet. I don’t doubt that for some people, a change in diet will help. But for some of us, that’s just not the issue.

      • gallier2 on December 29, 2009 at 05:27

        I think the deodorant are the reason of the smell. I never used deodorants until in my thirties and I never noticed a big smell in the armpits, even after some days without washing (they smelled but not really strong). I started to use deodorants and things changed, after a certain time if I showered in the morning, put deodorant then my armpits stank the same afternoon. The more I used deodorant the smellier they got. Now I stopped using it and the situation came back to how it was before. It wouldn’t surprise me if the formulation of these things are exactly made for this purpose, this would be the perfect money making scheme.

      • Brianna on December 31, 2009 at 15:39

        I know someone who says his skin will not tolerate deodorant and has not used it in many years who can knock your socks off at 10 feet if he raises his arm. He has no sense of smell so it does not bother him. He even stinks right after he takes a shower but I do not know if he uses soap or not. I think not.

      • Lena on January 2, 2010 at 08:10

        I had the same problem with deodorants. Somehow I smelled more and worse with them than I’m without.

      • Cordelia on January 4, 2010 at 12:49

        It doesn’t have to be that complicated for women. I haven’t used soap on my face in years– the most beautiful older woman I know told me that she never used soap on her face, and she’s what I want to look like in 30 years, so I haven’t used it since. I do not use it on the rest of me, either, except as a shaving lubricant (have been looking for alternatives, but so far haven’t found any as good). My face thanks me– my skin looks much better now than when I “cleansed” it every day.

      • Melissa on January 8, 2010 at 19:10

        Most soaps are not great shaving lubricants. I switched to using hair conditioner a year ago and will never go back to using bodywash or soap to shave.

    • Monica Hughes on December 28, 2009 at 22:25

      Deanna, a friend of mine who has concern about soy products due to hypothyroidism takes her makeup off with olive oil. That seems like such a pleasant idea! I might try that, as it would forego the need to cleanse at night to get makeup off.

      I’m also considering buying mineral foundation rather than your typical grocery store crap made with oils that come from god knows what.

      • Grok on December 28, 2009 at 23:23

        Comes from the food slop leftovers on the Las Vegas strip. Don’t you watch “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery? ;)

      • musajen on December 29, 2009 at 12:57

        Some friends of mine were considering getting into the horse urine collection business (I believe it had to be pregnant mares?) because the horse urine is needed for make-up. I can’t remember what function it served, but, um, no thank you?

      • holly on December 31, 2009 at 18:47

        Horse urine is used for estrogen in hormone replacement therapy.

      • Nathalie on January 4, 2010 at 08:56

        Premarin= Pregnant Mare Urine. bleah

      • LAM on December 29, 2009 at 13:04

        Google “oil cleansing method.” There’s a whole lot of information about washing your face with oil…it works wonders and if you use makeup and/or sunscreen (I still do in the summer if I’m spending a lot of times in the sun, because I have my father’s complexion and as much as I love him I’d rather not age like him) it’s even better at getting the gunk off.

        For several months now I’ve only been using soap on my pits and groin. For deodorant I just use some coconut oil…luckily for me I don’t sweat much and the oil is usually enough to prevent any detectable BO (meaning you have to stick your nose in my pit to smell anything) . Now that it’s winter I moisturize my body with oils–usually a mixture of coconut oil and whatever random oil sounds good, like jojoba or avocado. If I don’t the winter air sucks all the moisture out of my skin and I get painful red rashes.

        I have very curly hair, so I’m very familiar with the “no ‘poo” thing. Unfortunately the curly hair also means I can’t get away without using conditioner and styling products.

      • Aaron M Fraser on December 31, 2009 at 05:26

        Could you, perhaps, apply those same oils to your hair for a more natural ‘product’?

      • RD on January 1, 2010 at 09:17

        I too have very curly hair, and have found that a little coconut oil is the best styling product of all. It has a light hold and is very moisturizing, so no frizz. Mixing a couple drops of rosemary oil, which is great for hair, makes it even better.

      • Meredith on December 29, 2009 at 16:26

        I started using mineral makeup about a year ago after quite a while of vacillating over whether it was worth the money (about $25 /container). What pushed me over the edge was reading that talc stretches out your pores, and I certainly didn’t want that! Well in the last year I’ve noticed that when I wear the mineral foundation every day, within a few days my skin improves and when I wake up in the morning I almost look like I’ve already put on my foundation (this is after cleaning it off thoroughly with warm water each night before bed). If I get lazy and neglect to wear it during the week, I soon go back to looking ruddy and haggard. Back when I wore conventional makeup, it was the other way around. The more often I wore it, the worse my skin was.

        In case you wonder, the brand I use is Larenim, but from what I’ve read I think any brand that is %100 minerals and thusly contains no talc, would do the same thing.

      • bitter almond on December 31, 2009 at 13:31

        Mineral makeup generally includes zinc in its base, which tends to calm and promote healing in the skin. I have had chronic skin issues since childhood, and nothing has improved my complexion as much as mineral makeup.

      • eenie on December 31, 2009 at 13:33

      • Dana on May 11, 2010 at 17:51

        Yes, talc is a mineral, but it is also a hazardous mineral with no nourishment value, so we like to avoid it in our cosmetic products when feasible.

      • eenie on December 31, 2009 at 15:24

        Also: there’s no reason to imagine that “minerals” as a category are somehow better for you than any other class of materials you might apply to your skin. For instance, white lead had a long history of use as a cosmetic; it may be natural, but it’s definitely toxic.

      • Dana on May 11, 2010 at 17:53

        That’s like saying you shouldn’t use almond flour instead of wheat flour because some varieties of almond are poisonous.

      • Jessica on June 30, 2010 at 23:49

        I think the issue here is the blanket use of the word “minerals” as inherently healthy, as in Meredith’s phrase, “%100 minerals and thusly contains no talc.”

        Since talc is a mineral, as are many other toxic substances, if a manufacturer claims their makeup is “100% minerals,” that doesn’t guarantee it’s safe. The real question is, which minerals? Nebulous terms like “minerals” smack of marketing and instantly set off my alarms.

        In terms of your metaphor, I think eenie’s statement is more analagous to one finding fault with the idea that all flour is good for you just because it’s “made of flour.”

  11. David Brown on December 28, 2009 at 21:20

    I stopped using soap and shampoo more than a decade ago. My skin is easier to clean these days and my hair has more body than when I used a combination of shampoo and conditioner. Haven’t used deodorant for more than 30 years. Giving up sugar made deodorant unnecessary. It’s nice not having to buy personal care products.

  12. Taylor O on December 28, 2009 at 22:39

    Maybe the French have something going…

  13. Stan(Heretic) on December 29, 2009 at 00:23

    Exactly the same experience on all details! Have been doing that in the last 10 years, I cannot remember exactly what was the reason, probably after noticing that it makes no difference thus – why bother? I consider it an irrelevant habit.

    Strangely, it coincided with my adoption of high fat low carb nutrition in 1999. Accidental coincidence perhaps? Perhaps not – we do think differently on that diet! Cannot explain it.

  14. Valda Redfern on December 29, 2009 at 02:56

    redcatbicycliste: ancient Greek athletes used to clean up after exercise by smearing olive oil over their bodies and then scraping off the resultant emulsion of sweat, dirt and oil with a strigil.
    I don’t use much soap but have yet to venture complete withdrawal. I use olive oil and coconut oil on my skin, as they seem to work better for me than shop-bought moisturisers. I hate using deodorant but still do for the sake of my colleagues, though I suspect I’m less odiferous than I used to be before I went low carb. One curious thing: I love garlic and eat even more of it now than I used to, but it no longer seems to affect my breath or body odour.

  15. Ann on December 29, 2009 at 03:13

    has anyone tried the crystal deodorants out there? They make me smell like a fresh cut potato, which is a little odd. Coconut oil can also be used to remove makeup.

    • Don Matesz on December 29, 2009 at 08:43

      I have used them, but noticed that it seemed to promote skin tag formation after some years of use. When I stopped using it, the tags receded.

  16. Brian on December 29, 2009 at 04:41


    Thanks for the response. A few last questions I thought of:

    1. How often do you shave, and what do you use for a razor blade, shaving cream/gel, and aftershave if at all?

    2. How do you dry your hair after bathing? Thorough towel dry? Light towel dry and air dry? All air? Hair dryer?

    3. Do you use any other chemical or powder on your body anywhere, e.g. baby powder or anything else?

    • Richard Nikoley on December 29, 2009 at 07:48


      I use one of those clippers with the plastic guard so I can clip all over to short stubble as in my pic to the right. I do that about once per week I guess. Up here at the cabin I have a razor and canned shave cream and I treat myself to a clean shave about twice per year at most. I’ve been doing the stubble thing for a long time, now.

      Light towel dry. I never use a dryer. Hate ’em. Nothing worse to get you sweating again. Although, I tend to take lukewarm and even cold showers mostly now. My cold tolerance is huge having built it up by spending upwards of 10 minutes in the 40F cold plunge at my gym — though most of the time I just stay in a minute or so after a workout & sauna.

      The only thing I use is soap on hands for food prep, Old Spice stick deodorant (but I may not need — I’ll have to see about that), some sort of natural tree oil toothpaste I get from WF when I brush every few days (usually wooden toothpicks suffice to clean and massage gums), and then the shave cream once or twice per year. Perhaps next time I’ll do that with coconut oil.

      • Nige on December 29, 2009 at 10:40

        Richard Nikoley said…
        “I’ve been doing the stubble thing for a long time, now.”

        Does your wife get any stubble burns?

      • Richard Nikoley on December 29, 2009 at 10:46

        I keep ’em just long enough that they bend instead of scratch. Plus, I have pretty fine stubble.

  17. Brian on December 29, 2009 at 04:51

    This has been a great read and I’m going to absorb it all and try to come up with a gameplan. Thanks for the motivation, Richard! First step – K2 supplements. I’ve been delaying getting them, not anymore.

    Once my diet is in order, then I’ll move on to gradually easing off the skin/hair products. My personal guess is that when you use them regularly, your hair gets used to dumping tons of oil out to counteract the complete destruction of the oil by your shampoo, so when you suddenly stop shampooing, it takes time for your body to adjust the oil output back down to a normal amount. I think if I ease off slowly, and make shampooing intermittent and less frequent, I might be able to make the transition more easily.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 29, 2009 at 07:49

      That’s exactly what I think is going on with hair, FWIW.

      • ERF on January 7, 2010 at 15:41

        Richard: My mother raised me with the idea that you should only shampoo 2-3 times a week because the shampoo strips your hair of its natural oil and moisture.

        My very expensive and trendy hairdresser says that when my mother was a girl, that was indeed the case. He tells me that today’s best products are designed to maintain hair health and therefore they are safe to use every day – then he tries to sell me a $30 bottle of all-natural shampoo and conditioner, which I bought once. Disaster – now my fiance uses the leftovers because it smells like rosemary and mint and he likes it.

        Unfortunately, my hair is very fine and straight and long and loooooovvvves to tangle. It takes me about 15 minutes to brush out my hair in the morning (and that’s after a night of uneventful sleep – I don’t dare go into the details of when more active… sleeping occurs). The days that I shampoo/condition with moisturizing ‘poo and conditioner are the days that I have the easiest time of it. Also, in the cold weather, wet hair is not great, so I use a hair dryer, on a low setting, during the winter, and my hair seems to behave better when I do that. I use no other products on my hair, but I still seem to be having a great deal of problems, and am afraid to go shampooless due to the transition period and resulting rat’s nest.

        I’ve considered chopping it, but I’m in a profession where that would be inadvisable (I’m an actress, and I look absolutely horrible with short hair – even my fiance says so, and he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what).

        Does anyone know what a person with my hair issues would have to go through to go shampooless?? How does long hair react differently and how soon can I hopefully expect to see softer and more manageable hair (keeping in mind that everyone is different)? Does anyone have suggestions on how to manage the rat’s nest in the interim so that when I go to auditions or rehearsals or performances, I’ll look like the person they want to hire/hired?


      • Jen Andrewslove on January 9, 2010 at 10:06

        As per someone else’s comment, I’ve stopped using hair products and now use 100% aloe gel as hair gel. Whether put in wet or dry hair it’s doing a good job for me. (I would otherwise resemble a cave-woman.) :)

  18. Alex Thorn on December 29, 2009 at 05:57

    I have tried the no soap/shampoo thing in the past and, after an adaptation period, it does work! However I currently do use a proprietary natural, (nasty) chemical-free shower gel for body and hair but I don’t do it every day as I don’t get particularly sweaty/dirty. I also don’t use any antiperspirants/deodorants or colognes/aftershaves. I use a hand-wash version of the product I use in the shower, which I also use as a shaving gel (no soap, no SLS, no parabans, etc.), and is aloe vera based. No-one has yet said that I stink!

    I also use a fluoride-free, SLS-free natural toothpaste but, again, I don’t brush every day unless I’m going to be around other people. My dental health has never been better. I think regular brushing does more damage to the enamel!

    • redcatbicycliste on December 29, 2009 at 07:28

      Alex, you are better off using a tooth powder than a paste. I hear tell that the glycerine in the paste inhibits something (which I don’t recall the scientific name for as I write this) that is necessary for tooth health from happening. Powders have been used by folks a lot longer than pastes. A brand called Uncle Harry’s is pretty good; Ecodent is good, too–but it has more baking soda in it.

      Actually, you don’t even need to use a paste or powder: You can moisten your toothbrush with hot water and just brush and spit and brush and spit…until the tooth’s surface feels clean to your tongue.

      You don’t even need to use a toothbrush (specifically a nylon bristle brush). You can clean your teeth with a thin, rough, moistened cloth, which you put over one of your finger tips; then dip your finger into some tooth powder and “brush” away. Cleaning your teeth that way gives you the ability to reach more of the tooth’s surface. Remember: the flat surface of the brush doesn’t touch every bit of the curved (concave and convex) surface of the tooth.

      For me, since changing how I eat (and this is before I went completely off of grains, which was only a few months ago), I have discovered that tooth decay is an inside-out process, not outside-in. Since I stopped being afraid of saturated fats and got the O6 to O3 ratio to 1:1/2:1, the few loose teeth that I had have bolted in strong, and a couple of cavities that were forming disappeared. I’ve learned that you can floss and brush until the cows come home–all that effort and expense won’t stop tooth decay or cavities from forming; it is what you eat that makes your teeth and gums strong and resistant to disease. If I had known about this way of eating about five years ago, I could have saved myself several thousand dollars and time and inconvenience caused by [preventable] periodontal disease.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 29, 2009 at 07:58

        I had two surgeries for periodontal disease in around 2001. I had to have cleanings 4 times per year to get to the “pockets.”

        Well, I have experienced complete reversal with gum measurements even better than when they began taking them in the early 90s. Dentist not interested in Price, K2, D3, etc., but says: “well, whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it.”

        Now I go for a good cleaning once per year.

      • Chris on December 30, 2009 at 05:20

        Doctor told my mother the same after being on Atkins. Her blood work was in his “top 10% of patients,” but not interested in hearing about low carb.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 29, 2009 at 07:52

      Oh, I just remembered that I do use Bay Rum on my face, neck & chest when going out to a party or something, but that’s infrequent. Judging by the ingredients and how it feels (oily, not an alcohol sting) it’s probably the way to go.

  19. Jedidja on December 29, 2009 at 06:24

    I always wondered about this ever since stumbling across Mark’s site last year – surely Grok wouldn’t have used soap/shampoo. And at the same time, surely we couldn’t have smelled that bad to not be near others. Good stuff :)

  20. 12/30/09 – on December 29, 2009 at 22:22

    […] No Soap – No Shampoo – No Problem Saturday's Free Class – Karen, Brad and Terry […]

  21. Cory Michael McKenna on December 29, 2009 at 07:50

    Ha, I’ve been doing this for almost 3 years now. I only
    use soap on my bum, I don’t use shampoo or any hair
    products (I shave my head), I don’t use shaving cream,
    I don’t use toothpaste (I use baking soda instead), I
    don’t use deoderant or any product for any type of

  22. Don Matesz on December 29, 2009 at 08:41

    I have not used soap on my body, except for arm pits and rear end, for probably twenty + years, since I noticed soap dried my skin out. I might try weaning off the little I do use now, since it makes perfect sense.

    I’ve used Aubrey brand Men’s stock Herbal Pine “deodorant” for about 10 years. Its an alcohol extract with witch hazel, arnica, calamine, VT-E, calendula oil, and pine oil. Been mostly satisfied, but noticed some skin tags in pits, and have thought these might be due to irritation from the product. When I do get unpleasant odor in my pits, I can tell it is a product of the breakdown of the oils in this product.

    Food definitely and to a large extent determines B.O. Characteristic odors of people from ethnic groups generally have a lot to do with what they eat.

    For about the same length of time, I have only washed my hair about once every third day or so, always using a “natural” product, but now reading of your experience Richard I plan to get rid of it. I have read somewhere that some people believe washing kills the follicles (by sucking the fat out of the cells) leading to premature hair loss. I have used aloe gel to remoisten hair after shampooing, but don’t need it on days I don’t shampoo.

    It seems likely that frequent soaping increases oil production and protein loss, which would increase bacterial growth, would increase odor.

  23. AT22 on December 29, 2009 at 09:00

    I’m so oily (and breakout, even on Paleo (I do eat dairy)) that I’m terrified of doing this. Whenever I’ve given the no shampoo thing a few day trial I always get fed up with the oil and revert. And I use makeup everyday that sometimes is hard to remove. When will I have two weeks to give it a really good go??? That is my only question!

    I have stopped using shaving cream and shave with water (a little soap in the really hard to get areas).

    • Brian on December 29, 2009 at 10:01

      You may be able to try it how I’m going to. Rather than go cold turkey as Richard did, try to ease off. Use more natural items, use it intermittently, and use less of it, until you’re basically using nothing. That should give your body more time to adapt to the change, so that it doesn’t immediately dump a lot of oil on your hair and skin. That is just an educated guess.

    • Robert M. on December 29, 2009 at 10:57

      I stopped getting acne after I stopped eating dairy, FWIW.

      I shampoo my hair after each trip to a chlorinated pool (about once a week) and then add a smidgen of coconut oil to keep it well lubricated.

      I do use ivory soap in the shower every day but I have been thinking of trying a vinegar wash. I’ve never ever had trouble with body odor, however.

  24. Ken on December 29, 2009 at 09:01

    I’ve been a little to no soap/shampoo guy for years and bring it up only to a limited # of folk. My ex-GF would spend hours a day scrubbing and showering and was amazed that I didn’t stink only showering once a week and using no “product”. I think there is a relation to the bacterial fauna on our skin that keeps things tidy. Killing/scrubbing it off constantly exposes one being repopulated by opportunistic bacteria not so kind to the host. Just a hunch based on some reading.
    And yes, the “bits” seem to stay clean, tidy and fresh even with a lot of high effort work/ play.
    Keep up the good work

    • Ken on December 29, 2009 at 09:19

      As far as what I put on my body, I rarely use deodorant, Trader Joe’s unscented, and toothpaste if I’m going to be in a crowd, Trader Joe’s Peppermint. That’s it.

      Last night I attended a yoga class at a fancy health club and after the class, hit the steam room then the shower. They had all the skincare/haircare stuff in there so I used it for shits and giggles and today feel very ichy, and dry. Never again.

  25. Krys on December 29, 2009 at 09:17

    Perfect timing on this post Richard! While I am not quite ready to give up soap, I’ve at least switched recently to Dr Bronner’s liquid soap, and it is amazing! I use this not only for soap, but for shampoo and laundry soap as well (with a little baking soda). I’ve also started using vinegar as a hair rinse which leaves it tangle-free and super soft. I’m trying to reduce how often I wash my hair and I have to admit, it’s hard to get through the adjustment period. Right now I am at every other day, vs every day. I’ll keep working on stretching it out even further. Once again, a great post Richard!

    • Ken on December 29, 2009 at 09:23

      One thing with Dr Bronners is that while it is a “natural” soap, it is very strong. I ran with the stuff for a while and found that I had to really cut the strength down to keep it from drying me out.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 29, 2009 at 09:27

      If for nothing else, Dr. Broner’s makes for excellent and funny reading material in the shower.

    • rational_dave on December 29, 2009 at 09:47

      Is anyone else using Dr Bronners as “toothpaste”? I switched a while back and it’s amazing. If you’re iffy about it, just start swearing so that you can feel better about washing your mouth out with soap.

      • Krys on December 29, 2009 at 10:43

        I’ve heard that you can use it as toothpaste, but honestly, I’ve been too afraid to try it! The idea was using soap in my mouth, just seems weird! I agree with Ken that it is quite strong, so I use it at about 1 to 1 with water, which makes it last longer, and saves me money. :)

      • rational_dave on December 29, 2009 at 11:11

        Most soaps you can’t use as a toothpaste because of the chemicals, but Bronners works great. The peppermint doesn’t even taste like soap-not the commercial kind anyway. If it hits the back of your throat be prepared for a fierce cough. You only need a tiny bit because boy does that stuff foam up good. I learned the hard way, haha.

      • Mary in FL on November 13, 2011 at 06:07

        I have thought about using Bronner’s on my teeth, but I have been using soap chips for teeth for several years now, with no new cavities in that time. I’ve cleaned up my diet a bit, too, taking out processed foods as best we can, so I know that’s helped a lot.

        The soap chips look like they could have been pulled off a bar soap with a butter curler. I roll a piece of soap into a ball, press it onto a molar, and use it as you would a mug of shaving soap. Rinse, rub the soap with toothbrush, brush the teeth, repeat all twice or until soap is all gone. My teeth get really clean this way. I follow with a tiny bit of a sea salt-and-baking soda mixture to swish around in my mouth.

  26. Kristine the Hedonist on December 29, 2009 at 09:36

    I agree with this philosophy, Richard. I only use soap on the smelly bits, and I only wash my hair when it looks really oily. In winter, I won’t even do that: I’ll just walk around with my toque on. I rarely wash my face and my acne is virtually gone.

    …but they’ll have to pry my Bath & Body Works products from my cold, dead hands.

  27. rational_dave on December 29, 2009 at 09:52

    One thing I am wondering is: What was the original purpose of soap? I mean, when someone decides to make soap (the old fashioned way), what purpose did it serve. I’m sure there was a reason-valid or invalid. It might be helpful to know the history of it and the idea behind it. Then, it would be easier to judge the idea as true or false and proceed either washing with soap, or not.

    Also, does anyone use a pumice stone or some other exfoliating device instead of the soap, or are you all just washing off with water and drying off? FWIW, I’ve never met a nice smelling homeless person who hadn’t bathed in weeks or months, so I’m thinking there has got to be something to this other than quitting soap. Diet? What keeps you from stinking up the house?

    • jon w on December 29, 2009 at 11:40

      I think soap was first used for dishes and maybe cloth. Ashes and water is a very basic formula. Don’t know who thought of putting it on humans though.

      I do like to scrub with a washcloth or damp towel, and think a lot of skin cells come off after a shower when the skin is soft, especially on the feet for some reason.

      At one point in the Army I used to spend a week or two at a time in the field training. Smell and feeling dirty did not bother us after a day or two. However clean folks could notice the smell, and I could notice the smell on clothes after spending a few days back home and cleaned up. I think just like we get used to grain fed meat without flavor, we get used to people having no smell.

      On the other hand, I have worked in Lao and Vietnamese villages where bathing and soap are definitely not used. People might have a faint smell if you look for it, but it’s nothing that reaches out to slap you in the face. Coincidentally, these are people who eat nothing but rice, vegetables and wild meat/fish/insects.

  28. mal on December 29, 2009 at 10:01

    how long exactly is the adaption period. i dont want to look like a greaseball at my job haha

  29. Charles on December 29, 2009 at 10:04


    Great post, thanks for sharing. I’ve been shampoo free for the last 6 months as well doing only baking soda rinses every now and again. I have long, fine, thin hair so greasiness really stands out, however, the natural oil balance that my hair maintains now has brought on a new shine that no shampoo company has been able to replicate.

    I still use a handmade soap, milled by my grassfed beef farmer. Do you happen to know any useful remedies for dry skin? I’ve had it all my life and I spend more on skin products than I ever have with shampoo/conditioner. Any insight is welcomed.

  30. Scott Miller on December 29, 2009 at 10:12

    Richard, I’ve done the same thing for several years. Basically, most chemicals on applied to the skin will be absorbed. My rule of thumb is this: Do not put anything on my skin that I cannot eat. The best lotion for the skin is coconut oil.

    For 6+ years I’ve only used one product for my body: Nature’s Gate Deodorant, which is safe enough to eat. It’s not an antiperspirant, but that’s never been an issue.

  31. Don Matesz on December 29, 2009 at 10:21

    One more observation: I never give my cats a bath or sham-poo. They wash themselves with their saliva and I feed them only meat. They smell sweet and their coats are fabulous (silky, not oily). (Very little odor to their excrement as well.) Their coats are at their peaks right after they bathe themselves.

    Why should humans be any different? I think I will try washing my hair with my own saliva! I’m planning a blog about the self-health-and hygiene-care of other species anyway.

    As a health care provider, I do have to wash my hands a lot in my practice, and they suffer for it. I find the alcohol-based hand sanitizers do less damage than soap–but both are taking oils out of the skin.

    • Danielle M. on August 16, 2010 at 12:05

      I noticed this about my cats as well! I have only shampooed one of my cats only one time because they were covered entirely in poop. Other than that, I love the smell of my cat’s fur. It’s very pleasant and it’s amazing how well they can clean themselves.

  32. Bill on December 29, 2009 at 10:31

    I’ve reduced my use of soap and shampoo to around every 3 day, otherwise wash and shower with water. I’ll take the gradual reduction.
    My hair is like an oil slick after 3 days.

    I also let my “tackle” be free to the air as much as possible. Tight fitting underwear is a no no.

  33. Dave, RN on December 29, 2009 at 10:53

    I just started using what my wife calls “cow soap”. I get it from the place that we get our meat from. They take the tallow and mix it with coconut oil. They mix some essential oils for fragrance.
    I stopped using deodorant a few days ago. So far, so good. Who needs aluminum in their pits anyway? I’ll experiment next with the shampoo thing.
    Don, I feel your pain. Fortunatly, I work behind a desk in healthcare… and the whole “wash your hands to prevent the flu thing” is funny though. The flu is spread by aerosol, not contact. The virus is active for a very short period of time on surfaces.

    • Don Matesz on December 29, 2009 at 11:23


      I put needles in people (acupuncture), so trained to wash between patients before palpating and inserting. I doubt its necessary for what I do, but it is standard practice clean needling technique.

    • Dani on November 1, 2016 at 14:48

      Do you have a source for this? When I looked it up a few months ago (when everyone in my office was coughing all over everything), what I saw was that cold and flu viruses, in general, live for about 24 hours on hard surfaces, about an hour on porous surfaces like paper/fabric, and about ten minutes on our hands.

      What makes it vary from surface to surface is how quickly the moisture gets sucked out/evaporates — our hands are warm and spend a lot of time touching things, being rubbed together, and it dries out the moisture that’s keeping the viruses alive.

      At the time, I saw mention of a study where only about 3% of people had gotten sick from airborne viruses (coughing, iirc), that said that the most common way people get sick is from touching a surface with germs on it and then touching their nose or eyes.

      It would explain why the CDC puts such emphasis on thorough, detailed handwashing, with instructions about which parts of the hand to wash and how.

  34. Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life on December 29, 2009 at 11:09

    Hooray! I found a bunch of other people who don’t use soap – not an easy task! I stopped using soap products (at least 90% of the time) earlier this month and it has been a totally liberating experience. I use baking soda on my hair and then a vinegar rinse, but I’ve found I can go without the baking soda more often now. My hair just doesn’t grease up like it used to. I use coconut oil for cleansing my skin and face (it takes off all make-up, too!), scrubbing it in with exfoliating gloves. I used to consider my skin to be oily, but not anymore. My skin feels terrific and touchable, like never before. I’m officially a soap-free girl. :)

  35. Anna on December 29, 2009 at 11:15

    Yes! Another paradigm shift.

    Madison Avenue has really steered us in the wrong direction when it comes to industrial personal care products. Most, if not all, commonly used products are not needed, are a waste of resources, and sometimes times actually create new skin problems and long-lasting chemical sensitivities (leading to the use of yet more products and pharmaceuticals). Paraben preservatives and some other common toiletry additives are thought to be powerful endocrine disruptors (some are also known carcinogens, especially in perfumes), which may be a significant factor in the increasing rates and patterns of metabolic and fertility disturbances as well as chronic, degenerative illness we see worldwide (in wildlife, too). Additionally, industrial personal care products and their promotion generally increase our self-consciousness and insecurity, which can’t be good for our mental and emotional health, either.

    I cut back on IPCP long before I even had “paleo” inclinations because I found that IPCP often exacerbated an eczema and itchy, rashy skin issue I developed in my late 30s-early 40s (though the original cause was pre-menopausal hormone fluctuation and imbalance and especially low thyroid function).

    I’ve used a mineral salt rock instead of antiperspirant or deodorant for several years – just wet the salt rock crystal with water and apply. The crystal lasts a very long time, at least a year or more – I would probably still be on the first one if it hadn’t been left in a hotel.

    Bentonite clay powder mixed with enough water to create a lotion consistency is a very good cleanser for hair and skin. It rinses easily, removing excess “grease” without stripping the oils that foster good skin health and condition. Clay doesn’t build up a residue as I’ve noticed with many “protein enriched” shampoos (don’t use clay on dyed hair, though – it’s best on natural hair). My hair stylist had never heard of bentonite clay “shampoo” of course, but couldn’t argue with the condition of my hair and scalp and had no idea I’d been using an “non-shampoo”.

    I’ve also heard of “oil baths” (oil is applied to the skin then “scraped” off with a blunt edged tool, which sloughs dead skins cells at the same time) as a traditional cleansing routine, though I’ve never tried it.

    Eating enough “clean” naturally saturated fats (from well-produced sources, not CAFOs) is very good for the skin (especially grass-fed butter, which is rich in fat soluble Vits A and K2, as well as coconut oil). Perimenopausal and menopausal women with their with low estrogen and testosterone levels, might still have drier skin than men, so 100% shea oil/butter (not commercial “body butters”), coconut oil, cocoa butter, olive oil, and jojoba oil are good for any lingering dry skin areas. Here’s a good “recipe” for a homemade “body butter” that I like to use on the dry skin that still sometimes occurs on my shins, feet, and nail cuticles.

    Another benefit to shedding the toiletries (aside from the cost savings) is less hassle when traveling by air – using nothing of course is easiest of all, but a container of homemade baking soda tooth powder, a rock salt deodorant, and a container of clay powder bypasses the spill/leak potential, quart-sized bag requirement, and TSA liquid restrictions, too.

  36. Brian on December 29, 2009 at 12:10

    “tooth powder, a rock salt deodorant, and a container of clay powder”

    It may pass the liquid restrictions, but if I was working for TSA and saw baggies of that stuff… ;)

    Nice post…

  37. Monica Hughes on December 29, 2009 at 13:32

    Wow, Richard this is one of your most commented on posts. Very cool.

    Based on the overwhelmingly positive comments here, this AM I decided to go no soap on face and most of body and will continue to attempt to do so. I might even look into a more natural hair cleanser. Last night I used olive oil to remove my makeup. It was nice.

    You’re going to have to pry my makeup from my cold, dead hands, however. hah hah.

    Ladies — or gents? — have you noticed any change in pore size not washing your face with soap and/or using natural oils as a cleanser/moisturizer? I have naturally large pores. I am wondering if I would see improvement if I stopped cleansing with soap. The paleo diet has definitely helped my skin, anyway.

    • Cordelia on January 4, 2010 at 13:17

      Yes! I used to have gigantic pores on my nose and forehead, and used an awful lot of soap and astringents to try to try to shrink them, to no avail. But some combination of not using soap on my face and cutting grains out of my diet has drastically improved my skin texture. I won’t say I have fine pores these days– to some extent, pores are pores are pores. But it’s been a couple of years since I looked in the mirror and even noticed my pores. I have to get really close to the mirror to see them. So either they’ve gotten smaller/less noticeable…. or I need a new eyeglass prescription ;)

  38. William on December 29, 2009 at 21:35

    The amount of comments on this post is proof that we are all concerned how our skin looks and smells. I have never used soap, [I’m 55] other than liquid soap from a dispenser to wash my hands. Even during my enlistment in the Navy, soap didn’t touch my skin a single time. This along with good genes is probably the reason I look younger and was “carded” till I was 35 or so.

    A couple of things about the paleo diet, other than the obvious weight loss and energy boost, is that my normally very dry skin has a more oily feel. While this is undesirable to many, it feels really good to me, especially after having dry skin my whole life. This may in part have to do with my large consumption of coconut milk… who knows?

    While I have never had foul body odor, I do notice an odor reminiscent of kids in “gym class” during high school years. This happened after about a month into the paleo diet, which I started about a year ago. I simply use a musk scented deodorant and bathe everyday, instead of every other day, which I was able to get away with pre paleo diet. This is of course regulated by the amount of activity, before and after my new venture in eating. And as mentioned in another comment, certain spices give off an odor that is quickly recognizable. If you live in California, and visit the central valley, you will notice this typical odor from the Hindu and Sikh population. While it is offensive to many of us not from that culture, they are not aware of it. This reminds me of how specops employed native Vietnamese cooks, so their “American” odor would not be detected by the NVA. It’s all in the culture….

    • jjj on April 8, 2010 at 09:45

      I am desi. I’d like to say we are aware of the smell. The food tastes great. It just sucks when I come clean out of the shower and my mom’s cooking dinner and the smell gets stuck onto my wet hair. :(

  39. Anna on December 29, 2009 at 23:11

    For a fun body odor experiment, try some fenugreek tea or seeds (or take capsules) for a couple days. You’ll begin to smell like maple syrup! No joke. I sort of liked it.

    Caveat: fenugreek is often recommended to nursing mothers to increase their milk supply. I have no idea if it really works (though I took it when I was breast feeding, as a hungry growing baby usually takes care of the supply lag within a couple days) but I can attest to the noticeably sweet “waffle/pancake odor). The lactation effect probably isn’t an issue if you aren’t supposed to be lactating, but if I’m wrong, consider yourself forewarned if you try it.

    And yes, William, I’ve recognized that “curry” smell, too. I think certain aromatic compounds are excreted through skin pores pretty easily after consumption (one of skin’s roles is excretion). I’ve not found found the odor bothersome, but it is definitely not subtle if you aren’t used to it.

  40. Lewis on December 30, 2009 at 06:10

    Wow! I saw the header in Google Reader, and was completely unprepared for the avalanche of comments when I clicked through.

    Once more, a great post from Richard.

    A few years back, I started to wonder how people’s hair and skin looked/felt like back before we had the vast variety of cleansing/enhancing/destinking/stripping products like we do now. Did everyone just run around with lank, greasy hair? In a pale, early example of the Healthcare Epistemocrat’s self-triage n=1 patient of one experimental approach, I decided to find out.

    I shower every day, if not twice a day, but I very, very rarely use soap or shampoo. I take both hot and cold showers (and love the crisp invigorated feeling I get from a cold shower), and scrub myself with a horsehair brush. (I’m not trying to get purist cred for the brush—it was a gift, otherwise I’d be scraping myself with plastic bristles, and happily so.)

    It took a couple of weeks for my hair and body to adapt to the new regime. Hey, that’s about the amount of time it took to get over the hard carb cravings! For those two weeks, my hair really was lank and greasy . . . and then it regulated itself. My hair has never looked better. It’s soft and shiny and clean, with just enough natural oil to mostly conform when brushed.

    While I don’t shave my pits, I do clip them short. I was having a beer once (ok, several beers) with a Marine who’d been in the second wave at Tarawa, and he said that back then most guys clipped their armpit hair short. This kept sweat from drying on the hairs, and thus reduced undue stinkage. So I tried it out—guess what? It works. Someone gave me some guff about it once. I explained it was a fitness tip from a Marine who fought at Tarawa, and he shut right up.

    Our society pushes a lot of things on us we just don’t need.

  41. Melissa on December 30, 2009 at 06:43

    I’m not totally in the “no soap” camp, but I’ve become very aware of how nasty (and irritating) many commercial soaps and cleansers are in the past few years. Switching from commercial products to basic natural items has helped me immensely with skin sensitivity and breakouts. I used to break out in rashes from the wrong laundry detergent or fragrance. Now I use only the most basic things – natural deo, SLS-free conditioner (I get tangly hair), epsom salts & EO (for bath) and a very simple (unscented) soap that’s made from saponified EVOO. And the occasional coconut oil treatment for wintry skin or jojoba oil for my hair. I put Doc B’s (diluted) in the hand soap dispensers and use a basic, unscented natural dishwash. For laundry, I use a simple powder – unscented, no reaction. I suppose the only “chemical” soap I’m using is in the dishwasher…haven’t found a good natural one yet.

    I really want to try the no shampoo thing and use baking soda/ACV. I may give it a go here in the next few days. I typically wash my hair every other day, so it may not be a bad transition.

    For “perfume” a blend of essential oils dabbed on the wrist is a great (and frugal) alternative to mainstream cologne and perfume.

  42. Sharon on December 30, 2009 at 07:59

    In the TMI department, I used to have a problem with embarrassing “feminine” odor. Found that disappeared when I stopped eating grains and sugar. It returns when I go off the wagon (like Christmas) but disappears again in a few days when I go back to paleo eating. I suspect it has something to do with not feeding yeast or other nasties. Thanks for this post Richard – I’ve been hoping to find an appropriate blog post to mention this on! Not usually a topic for conversation….

  43. man_is_obsolete on December 30, 2009 at 08:54

    My skin is extremely dry and flaky and I have eczema. For much of my life I have showered every day, used lots of soap and shampoo, and covered by body with lotion and moisturizer.

    This year I’ve improved my skin by transitioning to a different way of cleansing. First, I stopped letting anything but water touch my face. Later I stopped using shampoo and conditioner. Later I stopped using soap except on my hands, pits and privates. I switched to a very gentle, natural soap. Later I started to shower only every 2nd day. And lastly I reduced showering to twice a week, keeping it brief and only in cool water. When necessary, I “freshen up” with a baby wipe. After showering, I apply a very gentle, natural lotion on the areas prone to dryness.

    Each change has brought decreased dryness and eczema. With each change, I asked various people to honestly tell me how I smell, and they tell me they can’t smell anything. My wife also says that I smell fine, which is significant because she’s very sensitive to offensive smells.

  44. swimming pool on December 30, 2009 at 13:52

    Ok, it all sounds great. But what about chlorine smell after swimming pool? I guess it does affect dry sking much more but still – are you able to wash it off the skin just with water? Or the answer is do not go to swimming pools? :)

  45. Steve Cooksey on December 30, 2009 at 19:14


    Your opening sentences framed your post perfectly…I was totally shocked when you stated your showering practices… GOOD STUFF!

    I have been bathing less frequently, 2-3 times a week AND I have been using less soap.

    Will take it to the next level, as you have done.

    Thanks for another great post.


  46. michael craycraft on December 31, 2009 at 15:59

    I haven’t used soap on my body since the late 60’s. When I stopped the b.o. stopped. My guess is that soap leaves a friendly culture on the body for bacteria to thrive in + it inhibits the skin’s breathing out toxins. When I’m a bit oily extra hot water and and a rough rag do the job. My skin is like a baby’s. I also quit using a dry towel. I squeeze the water out of my rough rag and dry of with it. I know it sounds strange to dry with a wet cloth but it works! An added benefit is the subcutaneous stimulation makes you feel a bit more alive. Hands are a different story. They can get very grimy and oily so for them I use dish soap. As for privates, especially female privates (back to breathing again) sleeping naked seems to eliminate much of the odor. All along I’ve felt that I was unique. Early on, when I share this idea/technique with others the distaste that registered on their faces caused me to shut up. Thanks for the blog, it’s nice to hear that I’m not alone. mc

    • arlojeremy on December 31, 2009 at 16:13

      I find that if people think I’m crazy (ie: doing something against conventional wisdom), I’m usually onto something good.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 31, 2009 at 17:38

        Here here, arlojeremy. Just guard against letting your brains fall out from being TOO open, but otherwise, a great rule of thumb.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 31, 2009 at 17:35

      Now see, I’ve always said there are many good reasons for grils to sleep neked. Add one more to the list.

  47. Nickle on December 31, 2009 at 02:38

    There was a BBC documentary about this a couple of years ago – “How Dirty Can I Get?” There is a good promo article from the time of broadcast about the programme here: Interesting take-home observations included…
    1. Skin swabs revealed c. 5,000 times the amount of bacteria after, compared to before, however this was still within what’s considered ‘safe’ limits and ‘bad’ bacteria were absent.
    2. Skin condition/tone improved dramatically.
    3. IBS (in the woman) improved gradually over the 6-weeks and had disappeared completely by the end.
    4. It took about 4 weeks for the body to adjust fully to not being washed.

    The ‘experiment’ wasn’t very realistic in that the two people NEVER washed/shampooed/brushed for the entire six weeks and wore the same unwashed clothes. There were no dietary changes so I guess the standard ‘healthy’ diet was consumed – hence tooth cavities/caries were evident after six weeks. If you did this ‘experiment’ you’d obviously wash/brush with water and change/wash clothes! All of the downsides would then have been eliminated; leaving only the benefits

    Anyway, an interesting programme. I’ve had a quick google for the actual programme and can’t find a torrent but perhaps there is one somewhere – unsurprisingly searching for “How Dirty Can I Get” threw-up only eye-opening but irrelevant results! From memory it was a good, interesting and entertaining programme and well worth watching if you can find it.

    Personally, I’ve not used shampoo for 15 years and other products (soap, toothpaste, etc.) for around 5. Occasionally I’ve had to use soap/shampoo (last time I was caked in brick-dust) and usually have a good scrub on such occasions – boy the amount of exfoliated skin (scum) in the bath after is phenomenal! From these infrequent scrub-downs I’ve learnt to keep things simple and use only mild products that aren’t astringent – ‘simple’ bar soaps, ‘herbal’ shampoos, etc. Ayurvedic herbs for shampoos are excellent – amla, shikakai, aritha, brahmi, heenara, kalpi, kapoor kachli, maka, mehandi, neem, tulsi, etc. – you brew-up a ‘tea’ from selected ground herbs and use that as your shampoo. These won’t strip-out the natural oils (unless you choose herbs that you want to do so) so you don’t get the uncontrollable frizz! Hair is pretty good with this shampoo – very clean/conditioned but you don’t get the ‘rebound’ – skin, after a scrub-down, however does take a week or so to return to normal; very dry until then.

    Diet has a lot to do with ‘body odour’ (BO)… BO is mainly caused by bacteria breaking-down the components of sweat, and carbs evidently contribute something to the sweat that has some very stinky breakdown products. Cut-out/limit the carbs and BO disappears. And, as others have noted, many other foods produce subtle changes in the sweat too, but none so repugnant as carbs. Exactly how/why this should be so I do not know but it is certainly evident if you give up the soap.

    One final comment… ALL toothpastes contain glycerine; this coats the teeth when you use it and takes a few hours to wear off. If you are eating the SAD diet this protective coating of glycerine is probably a good thing; protecting the teeth from the crap being eaten and the unbalanced/demineralizing saliva that such a diet will produce. However, if you’re eating ‘paleo’ you’ll have balanced/remineralizing saliva and the glycerine prevents the saliva from acting on the teeth – ditch the toothpaste; use tooth-powder, bicarb, salt or just water, anything but toothpaste.

    Anyway, glad you’ve ‘seen the light’ and brought-up this taboo subject – stick with it!

  48. William S Dean on December 31, 2009 at 10:14

    Fascinating concepts expressed here and certainly very applicable to a practical lifestyle.

    One thing to note is that in armpits and other areas, it’s bacteria on the hair that causes the “stink”, not the skin. Solutions have mentioned that alkali prevents the bacteria’s growth, so dabbing with vinegar works very well and — surprisingly — doesn’t leave you smelling like vinegar afterwards.

    The ancient Romans and probably the Persians followed the Greek tradition of using olive oil and “scraping” the skin clean (although scraping is not a really correct term); the actual action is more like pushing the cleansing oil off the skin. Interestingly olive oil is also recommended as a replacement for shaving crams and gels and gives a smoother shave.

    Strongly spiced foods, particularly with garlic and onions, can affect the scent of your sweat, of course, however, that said, it’s often when the sweat permeates clothing that one gets that “people stink” perception; it’s the clothing not the person.

    I’ll be following this blog closer. Great stuff!

  49. jeremiah on December 31, 2009 at 10:51

    so… do you just stand there and rinse off or do you rub yourself down with a washcloth or something? I get the no soap no shampoo thing, but what do you do in the shower if you don’t use those?

  50. Lewis on December 31, 2009 at 10:54

    Hot water, washcloth and/or scrub brush. Works just fine! (Water plus agitation gets you clean.)

  51. Body washing with water alone | dv8-designs on December 31, 2009 at 11:43

    […] Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo […]

  52. Update on Not Using Soap or Shampoo | Lost Wanderer on December 31, 2009 at 11:44

    […] Boing Boing has just blogged (Body washing with water alone) about a report by Free the Animal (Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo) in which he reports his very good experience with going soap and shampoo free for the last six […]

  53. grant on December 31, 2009 at 11:48

    Havent used soap for bathing in almost twenty years and I use no perfumes, deoderants or other assorted poisons. Have acne? Stop scrubbing your skin all the time and let it balance itself out, that in addition to a more realistic diet will fix it. I saw a concern about soy based products and people with Thyroid issues, this is right on the money. Processed soy is a thyro-disrupter and should be avoided, I found out the hard way when I became so iron deficient that I was spitting mouth fulls of blood.
    We are expected to use these products thanks to our society’s built in shame mechanism, if we can free ourselves of these poisons I personally think that everyone will be much better off.

  54. Saved My Life on December 31, 2009 at 12:01

    I developed a skin condition 2 years ago. Starting in my armpit, and then spreading to my neck, torso, elbows, etc. was a red, itchy rash that gradually took over my whole body. 4 different dermatologists diagnosed me alternatively with atopic dermatitis (eczema), and one thought I had a combination of eczema and psoriasis. Internists couldn’t find anything “wrong” internally. I tried every possible combination of soaps and moisturizers, and was on various combinations of topical medications (corticosteroids, tacrolomis, etc.) for over a year and a half. Additionally, I tried removing every common environmental allergen and varied my diet dozens of times. Every time I switched courses (starting a new steroid, or whatever), I would improve and my situation would be under control for a couple weeks until I started to feel miserable again. It’s hard to explain in words how bad the situation became, but at many points, all I wanted to do was drop out of society and live in a hospital bed.

    3 months ago, on a hunch, I decided to not put anything on my skin (soap, moisturizers, etc.). After 1 week, I almost gave up because the flare up from not moisturizing produced so much full body pain that I didn’t even want to get up in the morning. After 2 weeks, I noticed that my skin started adapting. It was feeling softer than it had felt in 2 years. After 3 weeks, I was starting to sleep well again, and my mind was clearing. After 4 weeks, I was feeling healthier than I’ve felt for 2 years.

    I smelled pretty bad at first, and it was certainly embarrassing, but my girlfriend and another trusted 3rd party tell me that the smell has basically gone away. I don’t smell perfect, but it’s a small price to pay. I now shower once a day in warm water, and use soap sparingly on the smelliest parts. I don’t use shampoo at all anymore. I drip/air dry if possible, and I don’t use deodorant or any other products after leaving the shower. I am now convinced that I developed some sort of skin hypersensitivity that the doctors were unable to diagnose. It saddens me that no one suggested this course of action. It is so easy to be blinded by the usual instinct to add something to combat a problem, rather than removing it. It seems like the whole cosmetic industry is build around their ability to push more and more products on people that they don’t need. I am convinced that I will be essentially soap/shampoo free for life now, but this post has inspired me to investigate the benefits of toothpaste and to question other assumptions about personal hygiene. I’m so glad that there are other people like me out there!

  55. Anna on December 31, 2009 at 13:30

    Slightly off topic but pertains to reduced washing & use of synthetic detergents, and lack of clinging body odor:

    I’ve noticed that natural wool fiber does not absorb odor readily. My husband and I love to wear lightweight casual merino wool and cashmere sweaters during the mild So Cal winters (for several years Costco had some good values on merino and cashmere everyday sweaters and when properly cared for, they have lasted for years). Worn sweaters retain no body odor at all by the next day even in the pit area. With a quick shake outdoors to shed skin cells, they can be folded up and worn again several times before another laundering (assuming no spills or stains on the fibers).

    I’ve also noticed that my lightweight merino long underlayers stay very fresh when skiing and camping, unlike polypro underlayers, which eventually stink even after laundering.

    I soak light and dark colored sweater loads a few hours in warm water in my top loading machine washer with some Kookaburra or Eucolan no-rinse wool wash (as if it was simply a big wash tub), then manually turn the motor to the drain setting, then again manually turn to the spin cycle to removed the excess water before laying flat to dry. I am careful not to let the cycle advance through any cycles that agitate or dump water on the sweaters so the wool fibers don’t felt. Saves a ton of detergent, water/energy, and laundry effort compared to cotton or synthetic fiber shirts and sweaters.

    Before storing for the warmer months, I soak, wash, & rinse all the wool/cashmere sweaters to make sure there are no food spills or dry skin/hair residues to attract insect pests, then when fully dry I store them in zipped cotton pillow protectors that I only use for off season clothing storage (so the fibers can “breath” a bit) then inside zipped plastic bags.

  56. headslacker on December 31, 2009 at 14:32

    h2o2, rubbing alcohol 20 years now. glad to see the world catching o
    BO? youre allergic to the laundry soap.
    I prefer girls that smell like girls, not things….

    • Concerned on December 31, 2009 at 15:25

      You wash yourself with hydrogen peroxide? That’s pretty hardcore.

  57. Funky on December 31, 2009 at 14:52

    I’ve been thinking about trying this, but I do have a lot of body hair. Have any hairy guys had success with the no-soap thing?

  58. Tim on January 1, 2010 at 07:28

    “maybe it’s the constant cleansing that’s the cause of the sweaty-stinky problem in the first place?”

    Really? A lot of this article makes sense, I found shampooing less frequently to be nice and more common in other countries. Anyhow, maybe its the sweat making the sweaty smell? I mean, I can see how this might work if you live in a cool climate, but even then a little soap wont kill you. NO way your convincing anyone that your crotch area smells clean, without cleaning it. Yuch. My skin is clearer because my wife uses scrubs on it. It cleans blackheads and more followed by some nice moisturizer. Anyway, again love the article, but I think I will continue to use soap on sweaty areas.

  59. Timothy on December 31, 2009 at 16:39

    you are covered with soap… if you take your bath towel and dunk it in a sink full of water you’ll see just how much soap is in it.. well the same laundry soap is in our clothes!!! too much scents and unnatural chemicals in our life…

    as far as a woman’s quim.. it’s self cleaning! your eye and your vagina are self cleaning organs… harsh soaps and scents only do damage.

    I use very little laundry soap. and use very mild shampoo for body wash. about 1/4 teaspoon to wash my hear and my body.

    as for dry winter skin, I use extra virgin olive oil… straight from the bottle. I also cook with it… your natural smell is never a bad smell.

    and for that “pretty smelling stuff you have in your bathroom? toss it in the trash!!! I’m a man and I hate the stuff… scents are aimed at women for women. most men hate them but it’s not worth the hassle of trying to change women from using them.

    the “crystal” deodorants are nothing but alum… you can pick some up at your local chinese food store. it works to kill bacteria by changing the PH balance. same goes for vinegar… anything that changes the ph will kill the bacteria that produces the smell in your armpits…

    Great article and wonderful comments :) thank you all for sharing… And here I thought I was a nut… good to know I’m not alone :)

  60. Tin Tin on December 31, 2009 at 19:44

    Great post. I haven’t washed my face in 10 years – always get complements on my ‘smooth’ skin. Didn’t even think about not washing the rest though. I haven’t found the need to brush my teeth either since going paleo. Two or three times a week is enough and my denstist loves my teeth!

    BTW, who’d have thought ‘ole Richard could find some common ground with the vegan hippy movement?

  61. Brian Macker on December 31, 2009 at 19:46

    Our sense of smell is known to adapt to a constant smell by ignoring it. Two weeks of “adaptation may be fine for you but not for your neighbors. They don’t get the luxury of getting used to your stink.

    • arlojeremy on December 31, 2009 at 21:08

      I’m always amazed that people will make absolute statements about something and someone they know nothing about. I don’t mean the sense adaptation, that much is obvious, but saying he stinks, and having never known him, is true ego.

      • Brian Macker on January 1, 2010 at 11:14

        I guess you’d also call me an egotist if I failed to believe he can walk on water. I think it more probable that you are gullible. The guy doesn’t use soap or deodorant so of course he is going to stink more than average.

        I guess you’ve never gone camping for extended periods of time and forgotten the soap.

        The adoption of soap is credited as the single most important innovation in the prevention of disease. Not using soap is definitely not even an option for anyone who works in the soil, or has a job involving oils, etc. When I come in from working the garden and dirt is ground into my knees, hands, etc. it will not come off without soap. Same goes for oil when working on the car, and small engines.

        About 20 years ago there was a guy I worked with who never took a bath. We each had our own offices yet his stink would waft into mine. It was awful. He once used my phone when I wasn’t in the office and I could smell the stink on it. Washing it with plain water didn’t do a thing. I used soap and it was much better. However the key to getting rid of the smell was using bleach.

        I’m sure a “natural” growth of “beneficial” bacteria had plenty of time to grow on that guy.

        I’m sure their is going to be variability but no soap and washing less often is going to increase the stink factor. That’s the experience all the rest of us have.

      • Brian on January 1, 2010 at 13:29

        Great job of completely ignoring the biochemistry behind the cause of body odor. It is not the simple false dichotomy you present of “either you clean with soap and shampoo, or you stink”.

        You mistake situational correlation for generalizable causation – a crucial flaw in your rational faculty that you may want to try to correct.

        Other possibilities you have no considered – the smell that is produced if you suddenly stop using soap may be the smell of bacteria breaking down the very substances you were slathering on your body (e.g. deodorant, moisturizer, etc); the stink may be an initial overpopulation of bacteria, or overproduction of oil by your body, as a result of the previously constant use of soap, which disrupted your body’s maintenance of healthy skin; the stink may be caused by the foods that you eat, as is often the case with people from other countries (e.g. Indian/Pakistani coming to America), etc.

        You likewise confuse benefits for specialized use with benefits for generalized use, another crucial breakdown of reasoning. The simply fact that washing your hands with soap before performing surgery or preparing food – specific situations with specific goals – reduces the spread of disease does not obviously translate into beneficial results across the board, regardless of situation, value-system, or goal.

        You also are incapable of differentiating between bathing with *only water* and not bathing at all, and believe it possible to compare examples from both situations as if synonymous.

        Given this plethora of evidence, I feel justified in labeling you a “useful idiot”.

      • Funky on January 1, 2010 at 14:29

        Hey Brian #2,

        It appears that you posted before I did, and your name also happens to be Brian. Thanks for the post, you make some valid points. Since I used ‘Brian’ in my post, I wanted to let you know that it is not directed at you, but at Mr. Macker.


      • Brian on January 1, 2010 at 21:54

        Don’t worry, I would have picked it up as soon as I read your post. Great post, by the way.

      • Brian Macker on January 2, 2010 at 11:51

        Just because you imagine bio-chemstry works the way you think doesn’t mean it does.

        Great job of completely ignoring the point of my comment. I know it wasn’t spelled out completely for you but I thought it would be obvious to someone with a modicum of intelligence.

        It’s soap shower and deodorant, not merely soap and shower. Otherwise you will stink by american (not french) standards. I’m fine with you not wanting to live up to such standards but to claim you won’t stink is ridiculous.

        One of the guides at a scout ranch I went to only bathed by swimming in lakes and stream, no soap, and he smelled pretty pungent compared to the guys using soap and deodorant. That’s my camping reference. An experience you’ve obviously not had.

        The point of the coworker is to counteract the belief that somehow having a natural balance of bacteria are going to somehow fix your smell. He had an totally natural balance of bacteria unaffected by soap, deodorant, or chlorinated shower water, yet he stunk. That natural stink was impervious to just plain water. Just because he had a buildup doesn’t mean it’s different stuff.

        Human skin secretions contain oils which do not just wash away with water. Combined with those oils are a mix of other oil soluble chemicals which bacteria break down into offensive odors. Such secretions are concentrated in ones armpits and gentile areas. No one gives a care if you don’t wash your face with soap, or put deodorant on your face, and other such areas. They also wouldn’t care if you refrained from using modern enclosed public spaces like elevators, airplanes, buses, and taxis.

        Oils mixed with shed skin cells is a very clingy substance and is hard to get off without soap. It will harbor additional bacteria beyond those which are living in the sweat pores. It’s the crap that collects on your mouse and keyboard, but fortunately doesn’t come from your armpits.

        Using soap removes this natural grime directly, and to a greater degree than no soap. It eliminates all that surface gunk and the bacteria that is living off it and producing additional smell. What it doesn’t do is detach the same exact bacteria living in the pores. Bacteria that will recolonize outward from the pores the longer you go without a shower.

        Are you really so silly as to believe that soap only attacks the “good” bacteria and not the “bad” bacteria? Soap is a surfactant, not a “good” bacteria specific antibiotic. It makes all types of bacteria loose their attachments to surfaces.

        Your pseudo-scientific theories are just as bad as the ones that are used against genetically modified foods, vaccines, and other technology. Soap is a good technology, as is deodorant.

        I mentioned the disease fighting properties of soap specifically because these ridiculous, back to nature, type movements often morph into attempts to restrict other peoples access to technology, products, and also restrict their behavior. Those restrictions often conflict with rights to free association, and even self and other interested behavior. Banning vaccines and GM foods are examples of such.

        These are the things that by common knowledge will tend to make you smell more like a dirty hippie:
        1) Take bath/shower less frequently.
        2) Don’t use deodorant.
        3) Don’t use antiperspirant.
        4) Don’t shave your arms.
        5) Don’t use soap.
        6) Don’t use shampoo.

        There is zero evidence that soap is broken down into chemical byproducts that produce offensive smells. There is also no evidence that the fragrances and oils used in these products are contributing to extra offensive odor during breakdown. One can certainly dislike the fragrances themselves but that’s not the same issue as is claimed by the anti-soap/shampoo side. You start to stink as you stop using soap because your senses are not used to the extra odor.

        Hell, just don’t use deodorant and by the end of the day most people can notice. I don’t know what planet you live on but this is obvious, and just because the wife likes the smell doesn’t mean everyone else does. I have yet to find a man who I find the natural odor of to be pleasant.

      • Funkz on January 2, 2010 at 13:20

        I stopped shampooing, and after only 2 days, my hair stopped falling out. I’m on day 3 and I can yank on my hair in the shower and not a single strand comes out anywhere. Compare that to losing hundreds/day before. Your blessed shampoos and conditioners aren’t as healthy as you have been led to believe. I have no doubt now, that they have made many men bald before their time.

        You are the ignorant one, Mr. Macker, not we. You discard the claims of many, because they do not agree with your beliefs. You do so hastily, generalizing everyone into one group, without giving consideration to their individual reasons. You are afraid that what you’ve been doing, washing and shampooing for many years, was not the right thing to do. You are a very moral, ethical individual, yet we all have come to this dire conclusion; it is not a pleasant one. However, these people stand to gain virtually nothing from doing so; I see no reason to doubt their experience. Don’t be so quick to disregard what is being said in this thread. You might just gain something valuable from the experiences of others. There’s no harm in trying something new, just to see if it works, because that’s how many discoveries are made.

        Why take your knowledge from those who stand to gain a profit from it? Why not open your mind to those around you who are simply trying to help their fellow man?

      • redcatbicycliste on January 2, 2010 at 18:34

        Such secretions are concentrated in ones armpits and gentile areas.

        So, tell me, what does not being Jewish have anything to do with this debate, huh? I can understand the typo of, perhaps, “gentle areas”, but “gentile areas”? Remember: Spell and grammar checks are tools; tools are meant to be used. {wink, wink} Just yanking your chain.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 2, 2010 at 19:23

        Laf. Bonus points for keeping it going until the very end.

      • Wil on January 20, 2010 at 18:25

        A spell/grammar checker isn’t going to pick this sort of thing up.

      • Funky on January 1, 2010 at 14:24

        Dude, you’ve got this all wrong.

        Neither the author nor anyone here is suggesting that you shouldn’t wash or bathe. In fact people here are for cleansing. However, if you’re like me, and you find that the more you wash and scrub with soaps, the sweatier and dirtier you get, you might want to consider some alternatives. And many of the posts above are filled with good ideas.

        Your stinky friend from 20 years ago took on a very different approach. What he did is not what the author or anyone is suggesting; it is just poor hygiene. I have known people like that; they quickly became an olfactory nuisance.

        And regarding your post and your tone. Re-read the article. This is no place for your accusations and belittling rants. You embarrass yourself when you introduce your post the way you do. When you do that, no one will take you seriously or like you, which I suspect applies to your real life as well.

        The way you present your words, speaks a great deal about your character, Brian. Now that you’ve generalized us, let’s analyze you, okay?

        You commit a number of fallacies: generalizations, strawman, slippery slope, to name a few. These point to your lack of critical thinking skills, so you probably never finished or attended college. Your use of some words (like variability) are incorrect, so I bet vocational school seems more up your alley.

        By quoting ‘natural’ and ‘beneficial’ shows contempt for younger people, who keep on questioning the beliefs you’ve held closely for most of your life.

        You are close-minded. And attempts at changing you habits or beliefs are met with resentment and anger on your part. You often become defensive, even though no one may be directly attacking you – they may be attacking your beliefs instead as you’ve demonstrated.

        For those reasons your current or last wife probably isn’t your first.

        You confuse buzzwords for jargon, which isn’t uncommon.

        You’re most likely in your 50’s or early 60’s, and live in small town. It’s not quite rural and not quite urban because you go camping, and you have neighbors. Yet you probably don’t know many people of different cultures.

        You’re Christian.

        The thought of not using soap and not being clean, really gets to you. You probably have OCD, which pertains to cleanliness, order, and expectability. Anything noticeably different creates anxiety for you.

        You certainly like to keep your lawn, garden in order, clean and trimmed. You’re a neat person, and that’s fine… but your anger and your anxiety probably arise from your alcohol use. Alcohol works on your GABA system, and as you probably have figured out, also treats your anxiety, but temporarily.

        By the way, egotist and egoist don’t mean the same thing, you may want to double check on that.

        Please tell me how right or wrong I am.

        Respectfully Yours,

      • Brian Macker on January 2, 2010 at 12:00

        Funkz, you are just ignorant. Those with more maturity would know why I put the quotes around natural. Disease is natural, as is the stink of the human body. As human society advances it is a process of fighting against the “natural”. Even primatives did this. Corn is not natural. Planting crops is not natural. Etc.

        Stinking is natural. If you really want to get back to nature it was not common for people to take baths in the winter, or even to change their clothes.

        Expressing my opinion is not about egoism. Your long list of fallacies are inapplicable. They certainly aren’t going to make you smell good if you abandon soap, shampoo, deodorants, and antiperspirants.

        Sure you can smell better than someone who takes no bath what-so-ever but only as a matter of degree, and not quality.

      • LoboSolo on August 12, 2010 at 22:29

        I tend to agree. I spent a month in the desert with the Army with only one shower when it rained … we were dirty and we stunk!

        Strangely, they took the women in the support units back to the Main Post every three days for “feminine hygiene”.

  62. Tin Tin on December 31, 2009 at 20:00

    Slightly off topic:

    “According to an explanatory model by evolutionary biologists, there is a valid explanation for why our nose is so important when it comes to choosing our partner. It is not without reason that we have to literally be able to “stand the smell” of our partner, if we are to find them likeable or even more. Our nose has sensitive receptors. They probe whether the other party has as few similar genes to us as possible. The more varied the gene pools are, the higher the chance for healthy, strong offspring.”

    • Danielle M. on August 16, 2010 at 12:21

      This makes sense. I love the smell of my boyfriend when he doesn’t shower for a week.

  63. Lewis on December 31, 2009 at 20:09

    Tin Tin:

    I am your basic East Texas mixed Celtic mutt, and my wife is Russian, from Kazakhstan, and we have healthy Russo-Celtic mutt daughters. Hybrid vigor, my man, hybrid vigor.

    • Tin Tin on December 31, 2009 at 20:20

      Hybrid vigor? Absolutely! It does wonders with cattle. Get the parenting combination right and the offspring is always a better animal than either parent. Humans too I say!

  64. Jen Andrewslove on December 31, 2009 at 20:35

    Wow! What an awesome read! I just spent over an hour reading this page and already my boyfriend and I are preparing for change. Nice timing, too, with a new year being minutes away.

    In early 2009 I stopped blow-drying my naturally wavy/curly hair. I had been blow-drying for years, so this was a very difficult change to make. I HATED what my hair did when left to air-dry (think cave woman lol), but by using various styling products and taking advice from others, I managed to stick to it (no pun intended!). What a relief (and time-saver) it is to be able to leave the house with wet/damp hair…I no longer have to be envious of men who could “shower and go”.

    Frequent shampooing is bad for curly hair, so I’ve reduced that to maybe twice a week now. In between, a good rinsing with water is good enough, and at this time I need my hair products in order to look presentable. I will be trying the suggestions made here by many; one of which being aloe gel as hair product.

    I also have very sensitive skin (year-round, though worse in winter, as many others) and switched to carbolic soap for my face, though now I’m going to stop using that as well. There’s always one acne spot somewhere on the lower half of my face, and I was wondering if it was from my pillow case, but I will try cutting back on dairy, though I do love cheese sticks for breakfast.

    Every winter I get a real nasty dry skin rash and I will try the olive oil for it.

    Oh to be all-around au natural! I refuse to colour my hair (it started going grey at 16) and put up with a lot of nagging from my MOM about it, but now if I could only get over the ridiculous peer pressure and stop shaving my legs…….lol

  65. arlojeremy on December 31, 2009 at 21:42

    One of the interesting things I’ve found as the result of this post, and it’s featuring on Boing Boing, is how people immediately start trying to fit people into stereotypes. I suppose we do this instinctually so we can try to make other guesses about a person and what their ideas and actions will be, since we lack further information.

    I guess there is no “paleo” stereotype yet in the conciousness of mass culture, so people in the Boing Boing thread started classifying you as a hippie, or assuming you must be a vegan, etc. That’s obviously hilarious.

    Of course, I wonder if people find it hard to classify me as well. I try to challenge my assumptions, which has lead me down many a road that conventional wisdom doesn’t follow (atheism, paleo/primal eating/moving, etc). I have some geeky tendencies, but then I also have some decidedly non-geeky tendencies. Example: In the past few months I’ve bought copies of Wired, Discover and … Harrowsmith (Canadian Country-Living magazine which featured articles on canning, etc).

    Keep trying to break that mold, Rich!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 1, 2010 at 10:21

      “One of the interesting things I’ve found as the result of this post, and it’s featuring on Boing Boing, is how people immediately start trying to fit people into stereotypes. I suppose we do this instinctually so we can try to make other guesses about a person and what their ideas and actions will be, since we lack further information.”

      Occams razor. I just think that in this case they’re morons with no ability to see past the conventional wisdom mommy, daddy, church and state instilled in them and that everyone else practices. These aren’t even true human beings, just society’s puppets and useful idiots.

      • Brian on January 1, 2010 at 13:17

        I was thinking the same thing. They have no interest in ideas, or in considering the evidence and reasoning behind opinions. All they’re capable of doing is a simple comparison between popular opinion and your opinion. If you do not match up, then you’re wrong because you’re a [label]. Labels and characterizations have replaced argument and rationale.

      • KRG on January 2, 2010 at 11:24

        There may be some truth to you assessment of the nay-sayers, but just be careful not to follow them into the labeling trap.

  66. luna1580 on December 31, 2009 at 23:46

    anyone who is hesitant to go soap/poo free should really look at

    ida’s soaps are real soap- meaning they are made with vegetable fats and, yes lye, but in the soap making process of saponification all the lye is chemically transformed, and as the soap/shampoos are “super-fatted” plenty of untransformed skin and hair friendly oils are left over in the solid bars. they are amazing and there are so many that anyone can find one that suits their skin/hair type. even as something to have on-hand to use on occasion or for “transition” they are great, as they cleanse without any detergents that would strip natural body oils, and many contain medicinal essential oils as well.

    i’ve had oily skin/hair and excema my whole life, these soaps helped both more than any other thing i’ve tried. if you aren’t up to making soap at home, still want occasional suds, and want to leave petrochemicals and detergents behind i highly recommend you try this alternative. if you can go soap-free, or get by with just baking soda and/or vinegar or oil washes awesome, but these type of soaps fit right in that body care idea, and are people and planet friendly.

    this is a good blog, very interesting. glad i found it.

  67. Body washing with water alone | Para Site on January 1, 2010 at 01:35

    […] Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo […]

  68. mec on January 1, 2010 at 06:42

    What about the ‘water’ we are washing with? With city water from the tap I wonder what the chlorine or chloramine do to dry out skin or disrupt the flora and fauna that live on our skin.

  69. Mike R on January 1, 2010 at 08:21

    Very thought provoking article – I connected to it from a link on Major Geeks, and didn’t know what to think, initially; but it occurred to me that the use of soaps, shampoos, etc., comes from a fallout reaction in Western (European) culture to decades of repression by ‘Christian’ against bathing and such like. Oddly, the Israelites and first Christians emphasized cleanliness, but you see the use of water and oils in the Hebrew texts – if the priests and others entered the temple with an unclean body, it could be their last term of service!

    • William S Dean on January 1, 2010 at 08:35

      According to research, the ritual cleansing in Judaism and probably similar in Christian (and Islamic) practice was in two forms:
      One was simply washing the hands with a cup of water (no soap!) three times
      The second was full body immersion (preferably in flowing water)

      Note that neither of these rituals involved anything more than briefly rubbing the skin with water.

  70. New Year’s Day links « Welcome to Flavor Country on January 1, 2010 at 09:21

    […] I don’t care: I like no soap, no shampoo […]

  71. Sebastian on January 1, 2010 at 10:00

    Great article. I never actually tried this. Or dared to try it. I’ve had dandruff problems for about a year or fourteen. Before I hit puberty my parents hardly ever made me take a shower, funnily enough. When I did I noticed my skin flaking and being itchy. Now, though, I think I should rethink my shower routine once more.

    I’ve probably spent about a hundred euro’s by now, on various shampoos and soaps to help me get rid of my head itch and dandruff. Nothing has helped. What I did notice was back when I had long hair, my scalp was – even though the hair sometimes ‘tugged’ a little – quite relaxed. Because of the long hair it was just impossible to wash it daily. It would’ve been wet all day long.

    I guess my skin and my scalp especially have been pestered with soapy gunk. Though I do slightly pride myself on showering less often than my peers, I tend to skip a day every now and then. Your skin is very good at defeating bacteria using it’s own cocktail of bacteria. Overly soaping up is a good way to destroy one’s own disease resistance. People are rife with allergies too, nowadays. I used to build huts and run through woods all the time. Getting bruised and battered but having the time of my life; connecting with nature.

    Now I live in the city I’m basically in an inhospitable environment (I do want to move away, but can’t yet). To counter – in my humble experience – I try to air my home as much as possible. Open windows all day long (or use open vents) but never trust closed air purification systems. Those things are evil. They just recycle germs. Clean sheets and a short shower (or even skipping one) is a good way of keeping in balance with the (bed) bugs. It’s not about killing them, it’s about living amongst them.

    Showering with soap is part of this.

    Obviously, after a number two or before prepping food it’s a good idea to wash your hands with soap. But I have not yet tried to shower without it. Nor shampoo. Frankly, it never occured to me. However it sounds so much more logical, natural. I’m going to give this one a go!

  72. Hope Without Soap on January 1, 2010 at 10:18

    […] your body with just water? Richard Nikoley gave up soap and shampoo about six months ago and reports that the results are amazing. His skin and hair are soft and silky. His wife comments all the time that he smells […]

  73. Bill Beaty on January 1, 2010 at 10:50

    Heh. Nobody mentioned this one. Legendary message from Napolean to Josephine: “Home in three days, don’t wash.”

    But was it just an urban legend? In that period in France, weren’t people bathing just once per year, whether they needed to or not? :)

  74. Toban on January 1, 2010 at 12:32

    I’ve been experimenting with no soap or deodorant for several months now. Evolutionary logic demanded a trial. Its been working all right so far. I haven’t noticed any significant changes. I’ve also been trying to minimize showers… I don’t trust the quality of city water (fluoride & other chemicals) so I minimize exposure. I use a rag to wash out the pits if they get smelly.

    I’d also note that Hadza men prefer that their wives don’t bathe for weeks. You can read about it in the latest National Geographic (also free online).

    Paleo logic also demanded a no toothpaste trial. I quit using toothpaste a couple months ago. Now I just floss and brush with water. Everything is fine so far. I’ll see what the dentist says next checkup. Anyone else eschew toothpaste in favor of water-only brushing?

  75. Wow on January 1, 2010 at 13:25

    I’m so glad I came here from What a freak show this is.

    • Brian on January 1, 2010 at 21:58

      In other words – “Who needs critical reasoning when you can have everything spoon fed to you?!”

    • Funkz on January 1, 2010 at 22:55

      Where else but Fark can you pay $5 a month to feel accepted on the web

  76. Nawel on January 1, 2010 at 13:45

    I remember, long time ago, a skin doctor told me the private parts shouldn’t be washed with anything but water and soap, and even better, only warm water. This said, because there’s a lot of stuff for “intime washing” specially for women, and apparently all is just useless, or needless: you can do fine with water. And now I found your blog (through BoingBoing). This just reinforces the idea.

    My 2 cents.


  77. Raw Food » Blog Archive » Body Washing With Water Alone on January 2, 2010 at 09:57

    […] Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo […]

  78. Diana Hsieh on January 2, 2010 at 14:52

    Thanks to Richard, I decided to go soapless for the month of January. Here’s my post on it:

    I’m already a few days into no-poo. The results are fine so far. My hair is definitely more oily than usual, but that’s hardly a bad thing for me. It has been horribly dry due to my recently-diagnosed hypothyroidism. So now it’s very soft. Also, it’s definitely getting clean. That’s a bit odd: I’m used to it being dirtyandoily, not just oily.

    I’ve also switched my standard lotion for plain old coconut oil. That seems to work better. It doesn’t keep my hands soft all day, but neither did my lotion; I had to apply that many times per day. Moreover, my skin doesn’t seem to dry out as badly, so I might just need another application tonight. (My hands are particularly dry due to my hypothyroidism — plus the dry cold of Colorado doesn’t help.)

    I’ve been using olive oil soap on my face for the past few days, but I think I’ll go without in January.

  79. Body washing with water alone | Newsblog on January 2, 2010 at 00:03

    […] Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo […]

  80. James on January 2, 2010 at 06:27

    For those of you who use coconut oil as a moisturizer — how exactly do you do it? :-) Are you heating it up first to turn it into a liquid, or using products with coconut oil as the main ingredient?

    • Ver0nica on January 3, 2010 at 00:05

      coconut oil will automatically melt in your hand. I have gallon jug of Nutiva. I put some in a jar next to the stove for cooking and a little in small pill/cosmetic compacts in the bathroom for moisturizing.

  81. Valda Redfern on January 2, 2010 at 07:16

    Coconut oil as a moisturiser: the brand I use, Parachute, comes in 200g and 500g plastic bottles (it’s pure, but not virgin, coconut oil). Since it’s rock hard at this time of year, I put it on the bathroom radiator before I take my shower so that it softens enough to be squeezed from the bottle. Then I just apply it to my skin – if not already liquid, it melts quickly once on the skin and becomes easy to spread. I like it because my skin seems to absorb it more easily than products like vaseline or nivea creams, and it smells nice.

  82. C. Andrew on January 2, 2010 at 08:44

    Not directly related to cleansing but a note on moisturizing. I’m out in the weather a lot and was plagued for years, at the onset of cold weather, with fingers that cracked and bled around the fingerprint lines. Moisturizing never helped. Sometimes SuperGlue would, but it was only temporary.

    A few years ago I was doing some tile work during the winter and used nitrile gloves to protect my hands from the thinset and grout. I didn’t develop any finger cracks that year and have since used nitrile gloves when winter came around with the same result.

    I use soap to wash the gloves before I take them off – they’re disposable, but I’m cheap! Then I rinse my hands with warm water. It does bring on the odd comments at work; I just say that “A gentleman always wears gloves” or that “If the odd criminal opportunity arises, then I’m covered.” A few years back, I was wearing bright blue nitrile gloves, so I’d say “I’m auditioning for the Blue Man Group.”

  83. rosweed » Blog Archive » No more soap or shampoo on January 2, 2010 at 09:43

    […] From Free The Animal. […]

  84. A Wrap Up for 2009 | Free The Animal on January 2, 2010 at 12:17

    […] easily the most popular post I've ever produced is the one a few days back I didn't want to write, about going soap and shampoo-less, washing only with water. I resisted writing about that for some weeks, so I suppose it just goes to show that big things […]

  85. Brian on January 2, 2010 at 17:33


    One more question: How would you characterize your shower water? High chlorine? Hard water? Well water? Do you use any filtration system on it? If so, what specifically?

    Water with higher levels of chlorine will probably disrupt the bacteria on your skin more, leading to more problems and difficulty with reaching the stable level that you have apparently reached.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 2, 2010 at 18:15


      Thanks, because the Pres of our loft condo complex — a friend and reader of my blog — jabbed me to say that the $10k plus water softening system that the HOA had installed a while back — that he personally maintains — might be part of the reason for my success.

      Here’s the funny part. Back when I used soap & shampoo, I always preferred hard water because with soft, I never felt sufficiently rinsed. But, take away the problem (soap / shampoo) and it seems to me that soft water is now wonderful.

      I’ve been up at my cabin in the mountains for 10 days. The water is a bit harder, I think, and my hair is a bit different, but not a lot. And, in the last couple of days, it’s getting better and better. So, my working hypothesis is that water chemistry makes a difference, but you can still adjust. Don’t get worried, give it time. Our biology, millions of years old, is at some levels, far “smarter” than we are.

      • Brian on January 2, 2010 at 18:25

        Thanks. My city water is supposed to be more hard, but I haven’t noticed anything wrong with it except a chlorine odor.

      • Brian on January 2, 2010 at 19:56

        After looking at some options, I decided to just get a shower filter and faucet filter to get rid of the chlorine and some sediments.

      • Brian on January 3, 2010 at 15:30


        Can you provide any specifics on the water softening system they use? Chlorine will definitely destroy skin bacteria and natural oils, and calcium carbonate and other chemicals in hard water can also kill off bacteria.

      • JP on August 29, 2010 at 00:09

        Just out of curiosity on the hair tangent, how do you wash/dry your hair? I know, kind of a dumb question, but I’m curious because I’m currently 10 months in to the no poo/soap idea. liking it so far with a bit of an exception… my hair still gets fairly oily after about a week and I still have slight dandruff problems.Do you use some sort of brush to get all of the dandruff out or do you just scrub the hell out of it with your fingertips/nails? My other question is, would wearing a hat constantly be a probable cause of my problems with my oil/dandruff levels?

      • Richard Nikoley on September 2, 2010 at 17:20

        Neve had an oily hair or dandruff issue, so it’s been painless for me. I just was with water and rub. Towell dry only

        I never wear hats.

  86. Don Matesz on January 3, 2010 at 09:21

    A related link:

    Toxic Burden: Women Put 515 Chemicals on Their Faces Every Day

  87. Jim Purdy on January 2, 2010 at 20:43

    I have terrible problems with dry, flaky, itchy painful skin. I’ve tried all manner of soaps, and nothing helps. I’ve long suspected that chemicals in the soaps were the culprit, so I’m ready to go soap-free. It can’t be any worse than itchy peeling skin.

    • Brian on January 2, 2010 at 20:45


      If you haven’t already, also get a shower filter to take the chlorine out. That will help with the dryness. Also check out olive or coconut oil as a moisturizer and as a replacement for shaving cream.

  88. Mike on January 2, 2010 at 23:57

    I haven’t used shampoo or soap for 15 years. Started in college when I had none, eventually got used to it and never bought another bar of soap or bottle of shampoo again.

  89. bill beaty on January 3, 2010 at 03:10

    > It’s soap shower and deodorant, not merely soap and
    > shower. Otherwise you will stink by american (not
    > french) standards.

    Not true. If you sterilize your armpits (try Mitchum) and sterilize your shirts (1/3cu chlorox per wash,) then you’ll have no armpit odor at all. I find that the odor-free state lasts for days, and sometimes lasts up to two weeks without bathing, after repeated personal testing. :)

    I first experienced this effect during a hospital trip while using their bactericidal soap and sterile gowns. So yes, armpit odor is from symbiotes rather than from body secretions.

    So, “paleo” is what they call my normal lifestyle? :) To be soap-free with no detectable odor, the key is to wear sterile clothing. Daily showers are important too of course. But showers are relatively worthless at halting armpit odor if you aren’t removing the heavy bacterial contamination from all your shirts. Oddly I find that shaving my armpit hair seem to have no noticeable impact. Perhaps the bacteria are easily washed off skin and hair. If so, then they’re nearly impossible to remove from fabric.

    Interesting point: shouldn’t our shirts be sterilized by the near-100C temperatures in clothes dryers? They certainly aren’t in practice. I’ve long speculated that the “American Strong Armpit Odor” is caused by organisms which thrive in extreme temperatures. If so, then perhaps our national stench became much stronger when we all stopped using outdoor clothes lines.

    Odd phenomenon: 100% of the new t-shirts shirts I buy will immediately infect me with strong armpit odor. Perhaps the bacteria is in the incoming cotton? Or if it’s thermophiles, perhaps the bacteria has colonized the industrial clothes washers and dryers, or the hot water tanks?

    The old “Kill BO Project” website from 2003 can still be found on wayback:*/ They experimented with various bactericidal ointments. I found that Mitchum roll-on seemed to work best, but I didn’t try all the ones they tried.

    • Brian on January 3, 2010 at 12:24


      To be clear, “paleo” only refers to the diet – which is essentially extremely low-carb, consisting of fatty cuts of red meat, fish, eggs, poultry and pork, bacon, nuts, berries, some vegetables.

  90. Daniel on January 3, 2010 at 04:21

    Very interesting info.
    Does body weight have to do with body odor?
    The reason I ask is that I have found that generally overweight people are the ones with the most problems.
    I haven’t used soap on my feet for more than 4o years and can wear the same pair of socks for a week 0r more with no problems. One of my obese friends shoes, socks and feet smelt very bad. He use to change his socks and shirt twice a day. Upon applying baking soda to his shoes, his feet and washing with the baking soda under his armpits continually he solved his problem.
    I have been living without deoderant etc all my life and this is the first time I have heard that some people agree with me!

  91. jon w on January 3, 2010 at 11:23

    another interesting one from BB: during a period when humans were restricted to Africa, and most of Africa was very cold, and coincidentally humanity was in agenetic bottleneck, shellfish and tubers were the most abundant and reliable food available.

  92. enduro on January 3, 2010 at 11:29

    When I used to surf everyday, I did not need to use cleaning products. A few hours in salt water everyday was the best thing for my skin. I did use deodorant and toothpaste however.

  93. Anna on January 3, 2010 at 13:11

    Regarding foot odor, I’ve noticed that sometimes it is the shoe material that harbors and generates the odor causing bacteria, not the feet. My husband doesn’t usually have stinky feet or shoes but he can’t wear Gortex waterproofed shoes because they create a tremendous stink, no matter if he airs them out, what socks he wears, etc. We’ve had to toss two pairs of otherwise good shoes.

    My son has had some skateboard style sneakers that stunk to high heaven. They are often mislabeled for upper material content (they’re clearly manmade material but labeled as leather uppers). I try to make sure he gets leather uppers, which helps some, but they all have synthetic fabric interiors, which can really harbor some stinky bacteria. Coolmax” fiber socks or wool-blend socks seem to help reduce his foot odor. All cotton socks generate a lot of foot odor and also caused foot fungal growth. Wish he’d go back to Converse canvas sneakers…

    I usually don’t have a foot odor problem, but I have a couple pairs of Sketcher sneaker-style and open sandal/sneaker hybrid style shoes and they all create a terrible odor (even the open style). Even with regular runs through the washing machine or hot water soaks they will stink after the first wearing. It’s a shame, because I like the way they look (and they get a lot of compliments), they are comfortable, and easy/light to pack for travel. Other Sketcher owners have told me they also experience excess odor with their shoes. It is somewhat reduced if I put an odor-suppressing insole in the shoe and wear them with socks instead of bare feet, but even then, I can’t kick them off in public. I won’t buy any more pairs of Sketchers. I think it is the synthetic fabric inside the shoes that harbors stinky bacteria. So even if the uppers exterior is “breathable” leather or has open areas, the interior or inner sole synthetic fabric can create quite a stink.

    • Elizabeth on March 26, 2010 at 09:23

      I remember something Jim Long wrote about the glues they used in shoes can cause the shoes to stink.

  94. How “Natural” Can One Go? at Charles’ Parkour Training Blog on January 3, 2010 at 13:29

    […] how to use foods to replace most of the products I use on a daily basis. I was recently reading this article from one of my favorite bloggers Richard of Free the Animal who wrote about his experiences with no […]

  95. A New Year’s Resolution: To Stop Washing with Soap | Web Watch by Web Gangsta on January 3, 2010 at 16:09

    […] You see, Richard has decided, among other things, to STOP USING SOAP AND SHAMPOO. […]

  96. Lance on January 3, 2010 at 17:10

    Hi Richard, what about washing your feet? I think I can get on board with the no soap thing, in fact I’ll probably experiment with it myself, but I can’t help but wonder what this would do to someone’s foot odor. Or perhaps there is none after the adjustment period?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 3, 2010 at 18:37

      I used to have smelly feet, but not so much anymore. In the summer, I’m barefoot or flip flops and in the winter, I always wear thin cotton socks. I think the diet and no soap has been instrumental in reducing the perspiration that leads to odors.

      But it may just be me. That’s why everyone needs to find out for themselves.

  97. William Lindsey Cochran on January 4, 2010 at 12:20

    Thought I’d let the end of year traffic jam subside before venturing a question. When you talk about going without soap, I’m wondering what your actual regimen of washing was before. Did you lather up a washcloth and scrub everything head to toe? Your article certainly got me thinking, and one thing I realized: I’m already halfway there. Face, ears, and the bits in me briefs get a regular soaping, but the rest of my body I just run water (and residual lather) over. So what did a shower previously entail for you exactly?

    Thanks for “baring” all.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 4, 2010 at 14:31

      Actually, I was soap free except for underarms and bits for a year. Before that, I’d just lather up with hands & rinse.

  98. Carry on January 4, 2010 at 04:35

    I think this is such a fantastic idea, and wish I could go the whole distance, but I have a lot of grey hair I would like to conceal until I am more age appropriate for it (premature greys, ack!). By the time I let my hair normalize, I would have to color it again. I have rarely used soap on my face, but do use sunscreened moisturizers and have been complemented on my complexion.

    I was reading where people have turned to coconut oil, and this is the first time I’ve read where people are using it at a moisturizer. I actually sell that, though my business partner and I have a background in massage therapy and sell it mostly to that market. Interestingly, we’ve seen a growth in the organic golden jojoba – my business partner has rosacea that has been cleared up by using the jojoba on her face. Because jojoba is a liquid wax rather than an “oil” it seems to be really beneficial. I plan to research the coconut a bit more after reading how many people seem to like it as a moisturizer. (PS: I don’t mean for this to be a sales pitch, I was just pleasantly surprised to see a crossover – in this economy we are trying to build a small business and I am thrilled that there may be a new demographic that may be interested in our products.)

  99. msz on January 4, 2010 at 10:48

    Just a thought on gel people, i don’t know if anyone answered this yet because there are frankly too many replies here but: I don’t use shampoo, I use a ton of hair product. Hot water gets things nice and clean, mostly. Having some leftover product in the hair seems to make it easier to restyle anyway. I assume I get a bit of the dirt out. Oh, girls do seem to like my hair, btw.

  100. splint on January 5, 2010 at 09:39

    I thought I was abnormal. I’ve always hated soap and shampoo, only using them 1 or 2 times a month when I felt that perhaps I would be found out from my stink! Glad to hear I’m not the only one.

  101. redcatbicycliste on January 6, 2010 at 02:28

    I hope you don’t mind, Richard, but I just had to make it an even 200 comments.

  102. splint on January 6, 2010 at 06:07

    eww, even, round numbers make me nervous.

  103. JP on January 7, 2010 at 10:51

    I’m almost two weeks into this and have just about leveled out. Though I am still having to adjust to get dandruff out, my hair is losing the ‘waxy’ feeling that I had during the first few days. I never used soap in high amounts due to my constant time outdoors. I used to go days at a time between actually using soap and never had any complaints until I started using soap daily. Now that I have reverted to ” No ‘poo, no soap ” I’m as happy as can be and the people around me are none the wiser.

  104. carlos on January 7, 2010 at 13:58

    “Skin is the largest organ of the human body. Slathering it up with a bunch of chemicals can not be a good idea.”

    water is a chemical

    • splint.chesthair on January 8, 2010 at 15:31

      “water is a chemical”

      Truth, but I’ll drink water, you drink the shampoo.

  105. Gary Katch on January 9, 2010 at 08:26

    I’m on the bandwagon now too. Results are very good so far, except my hair looks like crap due to the OPEC-scale amounts of oil my scalp produces. It will be interesting to know whether the skin regulates the amount of oil or if it is simply a constant flow. If it is regulated, then it may make sense that over time, without constant external washing, it may reset itself to some other level.

    This link to a talk on bacterial communication made me think a lot about the wisdom of showering our exteriors with inorganic chemicals…

    • Lewis on January 9, 2010 at 08:30


      In my experience, my scalp fairly quickly regulated oil production. It took about the same two week period that breaking the hard carb cravings did, and for two weeks my hair looked (and felt) nasty. After that two week break in period, my hair looks and feels shiny and healthy, and is just oily enough to not be dry, fly-away hair. Only a sample of one . . . .

    • Mike Palmer on January 12, 2010 at 05:36

      Thanks for the link Gary – it was an interesting talk!

      • Gary Katch on January 12, 2010 at 08:15

        Yah, it made me wonder about what happens with our nasty E. coli around the anus. Certainly feces are disgusting to most of us (especially others’ feces!), but let’s face it, they sit in our colons for hours. The fecal remnants on our external skin (if healthy) must surely contain bacteria in balance. I wonder if there is a different species distribution “down there”, that keeps E. coli in check.

        So, gang, are we still soaping our nether regions, or has the hot water been adequate to clean this sensitive area? I’ve been finding the shower-massage a valuable tool in spray-cleaning the ol’ exit pipe.

  106. Daniel on January 9, 2010 at 07:53

    Thank you for your observation.
    All shaving creams are based on hot water and soap to soften your hairs, reduce the copper wire to manageable strengths.
    Conditioner counter effects the shampoo and so will soften your hair.
    Logical, makes sense, from now on so will I.
    Thank you once again.

  107. DancinPete on January 11, 2010 at 08:06

    Does anyone have any info proving/disproving the alleged link between saturated fat in the diet causing hair loss due to excess Sebum production?
    There are many sites out there promoting the ‘fact’ that saturated fat in the diet causes the sebacious glands to produce excessive amounts of sebum which then clogs the hair follicles and kills the hair root.
    I’m interested in any kn0wn studies that could prove or disprove this theory as I have noticed that my hair started thinning drastically and I developed Seborrhoeic blepharitis when I switched to a higher saturated fat diet.
    thanks for any info.

  108. mykl on January 15, 2010 at 12:24

    As a follow-up, I stopped using shampoo and soap after reading this article. It’s been about two weeks. My skin feels fine, it hasn’t changed. Hair is a different story, it feels quite oily in the shower and afterwards it’s very stiff even a bit bristly but not greasy. On the positive I have a lot of scalp problems especially in the winter, my scalp would become painfully dry, my hair would fall out and I had dandruff. All gone. I’m not experiencing any body odor problems or skin conditions. I live in the desert southwest and we have extremely hard water. For what it’s worth, the not losing the hair or suffering the scalp pain has made this a worthwhile experiment so far.

    • Jen on January 15, 2010 at 12:43

      I usually have really dry, wirey hair and I’ve also been on the bandwagon since Jan. 1 (although since I haven’t really changed my diet I do use soap on “the bits” still). I never used to brush my hair because it’s curly. Now that I’m not shampooing the crap out of it, I brush it for about 5 mins at night and then in the morning I have my shower. I find that it’s in much better condition now.

  109. Jim Purdy on January 15, 2010 at 10:02

    Richard, you and your readers may be interested in today’s New York Times “Well” blog discussion about When Women Lose Their Hair by Tara Parker-Pope.

    Some people seem to be looking at every treatment except no treatment.

  110. Jim Purdy on January 15, 2010 at 10:05

    That New York Times link didn’t seem to work. Try cutting and pasting this:

  111. Dee on January 16, 2010 at 06:59

    Wow, this is a really cool site. I started using Henna and Indigo to color my hair and honestly I like the earthy smell after I’ve rinsed everything out. I am almost deoderant free as I use a small amount of corn starch under pits. I am leary of the deoderant because of cancer connection. My husband knows what I look like, so makeup is kindof silly. Sometimes I used just a little touch of Olive Oil and water to get some lotiony effect. Have also used baking soda to brush teeth–no bad and cheap. Plus, I would recommend not chewin any gum or mints now as they are all made with aspartame now.

  112. Clay on January 17, 2010 at 15:49

    Little late here, but just wanted to make a note: I stopped using shampoo about a year ago (shampooed my hair about 3 times since then) and haven’t used soap anywhere but the insides of my ears for years. I always had issues with how I styled my hair until I stopped using shampoo – now it styles very easily, looks great, and never appears greasy. No one can guess I don’t use shampoo.

    I exfoliate my skin with special exfoliation gloves once every week or two.

    I have been told many times that I smell very good, so obviously that isn’t an issue.

  113. Gary Katch on January 17, 2010 at 16:15

    Another thought occurred to me: could there be any link at all between skin cancer and sun exposure on skin that is chronically stripped clean with detergents and chemicals? Is there any protective mechanism to our natural oils and bacterial covering? Just throwing the idea out there…

  114. Chuckles on January 17, 2010 at 17:52

    Found the site on Dec. 31 and thought, ‘Why not give up soap/shampoo for 2010?’

    Two + weeks on now and feel great. No odor, no greasy hair; only soft skin and actual fullness/body to what hair’s left!

    Thanks for the tip.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 17, 2010 at 18:48

      Hey, Chuckles. I suppose 12/31 is a decent time to start an n=1 experiment, eh? Congrats, then.

      So you found it via boingboing? You know, that link crashed the server in Texas mid-afternoon and my web designers (who also manage the service) had to leave their New Years Eve party in Austria to get the site back on line.

      That’s why I pay a premium for my hosting. Anyway, haven’t told that story to readers yet, but you reminded me of it.

      • Chuckles on February 3, 2010 at 23:01

        Update: “Sweetie” the hair cut lady (ok, my hairdresser, but she usually just french braids my ear hair) said, “What are you doing to your hair? It’s so soft and seems fuller than usual!”

        Being the chicken I am (small town and a preacher, ya know), I replied, “Oh, shampooing LESS.”

        Ha bloody ha.

        Thanks Richard. I’m trying to do the weight thingy too–with less success. Kudos to you.

  115. Steve on January 22, 2010 at 14:01

    I read this on New Year’s Day, and decided that I was going to give it a try. Three weeks later, I am pretty impressed. I do not smell bad, my hair is soft and not greasy. The skin on my face has ALWAYS been very oily, but ever since I stopped using soap it has actually changed. Now it is never “parched” as it would be after I used soap on it, but it also never gets very oily like it did before, even if I don’t wash my face in the morning. I like it! Thanks for posting this. :)

    One big question for me, though. Guys, how do you deal with dandruff? In the winter, a flaky and itchy scalp becomes a real problem for me, although it clears up in the summer. Right now it’s winter where I live, so I’d be interested to know how other guys who are doing this handle dandruff control. Does coconut oil work? I tried rubbing some olive oil in my hair, and although my hair was pretty soft afterwards, it didn’t do anything for my scalp.

    Any replies would be greatly appreciated. :)


    P.S. I should point out that a no ‘poo regimen is NOT the cause of my dandruff – it has always been an issue for me – so anyone reading this should not be deterred from going soap-free by the prospect of worsening flakiness/itchiness.

  116. Anna on January 22, 2010 at 16:34


    Dandruff is sometimes (perhaps often?) a scalp skin fungal overgrowth issue more than a dry skin problem. Rx dandruff shampoos contain anti-fungal meds, as does (I think) OTC Selsun Blue shampoo. Consider if there are potential contributory factors for fungal overgrowth – possibly a history of over-consumption of sugars, gluten, lack of a wide range of probiotic bacteria to keep the fungus population in check, that sort of thing. You might have corrected for those, but fungus is fairly persistent and might take a while. It might even help to rebalance with periodic application of live culture yogurt – just a thought.

  117. Nutrition and Physical Regeneration » Mo' Buttah Mo' Bettah! Musings Around The Web on January 25, 2010 at 15:32

    […] Richard Nikoley – Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo […]

  118. […] 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 […]

  119. Jinx on February 4, 2010 at 20:54

    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!

  120. BORNED FREE on February 8, 2010 at 15:57

    I used to be a soaps freaked spending good sum of my money on all of the products ,until when i met my girlfriend and she successful persuaded me to try and stop spending-the money the on these perfume chemicals by products, it has been been 3 years, that we haven’t seen the soup bars in our bath rooms , [exception of washing ours hands. ]we used baking soda and vinegars to washed our privates body parts. we attended parties, .and none ever have noticed it.

  121. Richard Nikoley on February 9, 2010 at 17:03

    Hey all you 200+ commenters. Here’s an update post for you. I’ve an interview tomorrow and it would be great if you’ve tried this to let me know in comments on the update post how it’s going — positive or negative.

  122. Cordelia on February 9, 2010 at 17:35

    This post was just the reminder I needed! I started out the year soap and shampoo-free, with mixed results:

    1. No shampoo: fail. Over the past year I’ve reduced shampooing to once a week, with good results (thorough washing with water betweentimes). I resolved to try going without shampoo for as long as possible. I made it two weeks. I had no problem with my hair being dirty or greasy, and it looked pretty good… except for the flakes. Sadly, sulfates in shampoos actually help control mild dandruff. And water rinses are surprisingly ineffective at removing the flakes. So I’m back to the once-a-week shampoo. I should add that my hair is nearly a yard long, and I can see where this might work a lot better for short-haired people such as yourself.

    2. No soap: Brilliant! There is a bar of soap sitting on the ledge in my shower. I have not touched it since Jan 1. I expect if I leave it there long enough, it will dry out and get cracks in it. My skin is thrilled, and I do not stink. Turns out olive oil is great for shaving, and a little goes a long way. And if you overdo it, you can use your old shampoo to clean the olive oil out of the bottom of the bathtub so your housemates don’t slip and kill themselves.

    • martin on July 7, 2010 at 08:56

      You should atleast give it a month to adjust, My hair was very itchy and flaky, but I’m in the 5 weeks now and my scalp feels better than it ever did.

  123. Clintus on February 9, 2010 at 20:38

    Going on two weeks myself. So far so good. Thanks.

  124. No Soap or Poo Update | Free The Animal on February 10, 2010 at 11:41

    […] 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 […]

  125. Mamanita on February 10, 2010 at 16:23

    Poo-free and loving it since mid-October. Glad you posted this–I’ve been considering giving up antiperspirant, but since my natural body odor is pretty pungent, I’ve been kind of shy about it. Now I’m thinking it might be worth trying water-only showers.

    I find that people in the US are really uptight about what they call “hygiene.” This usually means stripping off all of skin’s natural secretions and replacing them with petroleum derivatives and fragrances synthesized in some chemical factory in New Jersey. Why is it even a selling point for a product that it is similar to the skin’s natural oils? My skin makes oils, dammit, why should I pay you to sell me a substitute?

    It’s liberating to have this secret, actually, knowing that most women around me are complete slaves to commercials and Cosmo articles…

  126. Unamused Mouse on February 10, 2010 at 17:12

    It’s all in the name of money. Same goes for all the chemicals that can be used to make an apple taste like a peach slice in a hot oatmeal packet. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to use a facsimile of something instead of using the real thing.

  127. The Personal Hygiene Experiment « So It’s Come To This: on February 11, 2010 at 14:50

    […] while back, I read an article on Boing Boing that covered one man’s experiment of showering without the use of soap or shampoo. Lured by the idea of naturally soft but not greasy skin & hair, I thought about performing a […]

  128. Nutrition and Physical Regeneration » The Man I Smell Like on February 14, 2010 at 01:10

    […] Richard Nikoley — Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo […]

  129. Let me have it on February 14, 2010 at 12:49

    Richard, I am curious about the smell of unshampooed hair; my husband has been trying this out for weeks and his skin is soft and does not smell bad at all, but his hair has the distinct unwashed smell. He does wash with water and a washcloth in the shower, but no soap or shampoo of any kind. Does this normalize, or do I just have to get used to this smell?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 15, 2010 at 08:33

      Sorry, I haven’t had that experience. My wife thinks mine is fine. Length might have something to do with it.

      One thing folks might try is that after going for a week or so give the hair a wash to get out the excess oil accumulation. Someone reported doing that & the hair was fine after. In other words, the scalp had adjusted to putting out less oil and the shampooing is just to get out the oil that had accumulated during the adjustment phase.

  130. Results of My “No Soap, No Shampoo” Experiment on February 23, 2010 at 04:03

    […] started after an AMA on reddit pointed me to this article about a guy who stopped using soap and shampoo. His benefits […]

  131. […] the odd occasion – really stinky things like after camping.  Just 4 weeks ago, inspired by Free The Animal’s post on going without soap, I ditched the soap bar in the shower, as well.  […]

  132. Do I smell? Do I stink? What’s up! « bettering myself through self experimentation on March 25, 2010 at 04:33

    […] Free The Animal  [blog entry] […]

  133. Aaron on March 28, 2010 at 16:42

    I have been performing this experiment for three months. I didn’t tell my wife. She is very sensitive to all smells. After the two week ‘breaking in’ period, I felt totally fine and don’t miss the soap or shampoo. In fact, I think it has helped my face not get so torn up during shaving.

    My wife never noticed or caught on. I told her today, three months in. She was very surprised because, like everyone else, she assumes that if a person stops using soap and shampoo, it will be VERY noticable.

    So many billions of dollars are spend on these products. So many hundreds of millions more are spent on R&D to create new chemical additives to personal care products because the market is so lucrative. And it all goes down the drain, into our own water supply. Seems like a real waste. But, I will research more before passing judgement.

    Thanks for this blog entry (from Boing Boing).

  134. What promotes beautiful skin? « The Clean Hippie on March 31, 2010 at 12:34

    […] are people out there who claim soap is the reason for all of our skin’s ills in the first place. While I’m not going to stop washing my hair anytime soon, it’s a compelling argument. […]

  135. OBSERVER on April 3, 2010 at 21:00

    I have been trying this for 2 weeks. It seems to be ok. I don’t think that I smell really bad although I don’t ask people to smell me often. I was around family that is honest and they didn’t mind. It’s a fact that everyone has a different smell. Just grab an old sweaty ball cap of a friend and take a whiff. Dogs smell like dogs and people smell like people. People in general for centuries have enjoyed smells of what is considered pleasant odors. Flowers, fruits, musk, burning plants….In recent years with the availability of running water and sewer people shower all the time. If you ask old people without running water growing up they will tell you that they didn’t bathe for weeks but when they could this was the best thing ever. Basically I’m not opposed to bathing maybe not scrub with soap as much as everyday. Special occasions like tomorrow on Easter. I’m showering well. I agree with the comments made about the companies pushing their fragrances on consumers but they do smell good. I sure feel fresh with some shampoo, body wash, and freshly washed laundry detergent smelling clothes.

  136. Monday Teeny Poll » Teeny Manolo on April 5, 2010 at 09:56

    […] who are choosing to eschew soap and shampoo in favor of washing both with just plain water.  This man is currently the most visible of the group, who claim almost universally that after a period of […]

  137. Van Comes Clean « on April 17, 2010 at 10:32

    […] the back of this post by one of my favorite bloggers, Richard Nikoley of Free The Animal, I decided to stop using soap […]

  138. Van Comes Clean « Collin Moshman – Poker Coaching, Staking, and More on April 17, 2010 at 10:52

    […] the back of this post by one of my favorite bloggers, Richard Nikoley of Free The Animal, I decided to stop using soap […]

  139. Working for me too on April 22, 2010 at 11:25

    I finally told my wife why I had asked her if I smelled bad several months ago. I’ve been doing this since I read the article. (Probably January). I really like the private parts effect. My skin is soft. My hair which is a very short buzz cut is fine. I do use deodorant or cologne under the arms.

  140. Natural Body Products?? - Page 3 - Myprotein Forum on May 5, 2010 at 05:59

    […] […]

  141. Jessica on May 6, 2010 at 12:35

    I have a very curious question.
    I definitely agree and would like to try this, but the only problem is I have very thick, dense, and long curly hair. I highly rely on conditioner to help oil the hair and make it easier to comb through.

    Is there anyway I could get around that? It’s nearly physically impossible (and takes 2-3x as long) to comb my hair without it. I’ve tried. :(

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • TRF GIRL on May 6, 2010 at 12:53


      Curly haired people everywhere on the web have gone no ‘poo – Here is an article I found particularly helpful, written by a curly-haired redhead.

      Now I am the opposite of you – I have thin fine straight hair – but for almost a year I could *not* get a comb through my hair without shampoo +conditioner – one day I was late for work because I had gone to bed with wet brushed hair and the resulting knot in the morning took me a full 45 minutes to brush out. I did some research, then I went cold turkey – I washed my hair, brushed it, put it in a braid and didn’t wash my hair, or put water in it for a full WEEK!! Every morning and night, I’d let it down and brush it out to distribute the oils, and rebraided it. After a week, I shampooed and conditioned it as normal, although I used a smaller amount of product. I continued to go a week between shampoo’s – yes, there is a transition period where you look oily at times, but I will say my hair became *immediately* more manageable, easier to brush through, and now my man says it’s never been softer. After a little over a month, I transitioned to baking soda paste on the scalp, rinse, vinegar on the ends, rinse. A full month later, I’m now using the washcloth method described in the article above any time I feel my scalp getting over-oily. I’m actually “washing” twice a week with that method, but am using *no* product. My hair is thicker, shinier, softer, and more manageable than ever – NO TANGLES, even if I hop from shower to bed, in the morning, it takes about a minute to brush through.

      Good luck experimenting with what works for you!!

      • Unamused Mouse on May 7, 2010 at 20:03

        Thanks for the link! I’ve got curly hair and have been using a boar bristle brush every other night or so and just rinsing my hair in the shower each morning (okay, I skip a day here and there – mostly when I wake up late). The boar brush hasn’t been a problem, but I’m going to try the wet washcloth and see how that works! Cheers!

      • Unamused Mouse on May 9, 2010 at 14:01

        Just curious, is there a particular way you do the cloth method? I.E. while in the shower, or after your shower, etc. I tried it yesterday before getting out of the tub (water off, wet cloth) and found it pretty difficult to maneuver the cloth through my hair. I ended up with quite a few detached strands in the process. :(

  142. The No-Soap No-Shampoo Experiment « Slaggard on May 18, 2010 at 22:08

    […] found this article interesting.  It’s by a guy who gave up soap and shampoo for awhile (he still […]

  143. Paleo teeth « Lower Thought on June 1, 2010 at 21:02

    […] The evolutionary logic has been successfully applied to ditching soaps, so why not toothpaste? I ditched the paste in November 2009 to test my prediction that a paleo […]

  144. Broken Soap Bubbles « Anacronyms Revisited on June 11, 2010 at 10:16

    […] followed the link and read this post, by a guy who had stopped using soap and […]

  145. Oliver Weinitschke on June 14, 2010 at 03:30

    I haven’t used shampoo or soaps now for over 5 months, after having read this article.

    I’ve had Atopic Dermatitis all my life (I’m 39) – but now my skin feels better than ever before. It took my skin about 2 months to adjust (winters are very dry), but now my skin has a healthy layer of its own oil to protect it from allergens and to keep the moisture in.

    I do occasionally wash myself and my hair with plain moisturizing cream, when I’ve gotten extra dirty (dust, earth…). And I generally wash my hands with moisturizing cream.

    Getting rid of my skin problems (by not using soaps) has been life changing.

  146. martin on July 7, 2010 at 08:48

    Great article!! I been doing the no shampoo for 5 weeks and my hair is starting to adjust. I use dr bronners on my body. I think its great you are a man and wrote this article, now man will feel more comfortable to speak up. Keep it up!!

  147. CrossFit Intrepid » Caveman Hygiene: Soap on July 11, 2010 at 06:08

    […] and saponified coconut are some alternatives to the chemicals in most soaps.  Some have found that no soap is the best alternative and have posted positive results in just rinsing with water.  Recently I started using coconut oil […]

  148. […] with your website. I came across your site at the beginning of the year after seeing a link to your shampoo experiment, and really liked what I found. I had just started to try and get into shape (like I do for 2 weeks […]

  149. Breast Cancer : : Disruption - Cancer Health Center on August 13, 2010 at 03:25

    […] of shampoo (you can’t call yourself truly primal without purchasing a pair of vibrams and throwing your shampoo out – I’ve now done both!).  Going Poo-less MDA […]

  150. Danielle M. on August 16, 2010 at 11:34

    I’ve been researching going without the chemical wash for the past week, and I am very convinced that this practice has a lot to do with illness in our society. The cancer rate has skyrocketed… gee I wonder why?

    I have decided to do the water-only thing with my hair for now, have been for five days. Have yet to go without soap, but I am tempted to try that as well.

    My boyfriend would actually go without taking a shower (when he wasn’t doing construction work in which he gets covered with concrete dust) for a week or two, and he would not smell at all. I actually love his natural smell. He wouldn’t stop putting deodorant on his pits, though.

  151. Madog on August 17, 2010 at 03:38

    @ Danielle, you are not wrong there, I have done a vast amount of research over the past few weeks on chemicals in every single product that we use and it is horrifying, we have been putting toxic chemicals onto our bodies from shampoos, conditioner, shower gels, body lotions, make up etc and it has all been sinking into our bodies through the skin. To add to that the cleaning products we use in our homes are make it a toxic waste dump which we are breathing in and handling. Since having been diagnosed with cancer in February I made lifestyle changes, I source organic products and make my own shampoos, shower gels and body lotions from natural herbs and essential oil, which is so easy, I only use certified organic toothpaste as the fluoride has been shown to be dangerous. I only eat certified organic food which I buy inexpensively at my local supermarket and my cleaning products consists of vinegar, lemon juice, baking powder mixed together and a little bit of olive oil with orange essential oil for polishing furniture with. I have gone for a week now without showering because I have just had a double a mastectomy and my wounds are still healing I don’t feel unclean and I don’t smell which I am surprised at. Google ‘toxic chemicals in cosmetic products, cleaning products, toothpaste and food’ and be shocked at what the companies don’t tell you and how many people are so brainwashed by commercialism and what they are told by the media and advetising companies and the damage these commercial products are doing to not only the hair but to our organs and bodies as a whole.

  152. Rebecca on August 28, 2010 at 16:00

    Hi Richard,

    I stumbled across this website because of my boyfriend, who stopped using any and all products (soap, shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, etc) 2 months ago. I truly thought this was absurd and vile, and figured he MUST be the only person on the planet to do such a thing – nobody else could be so insane! Apparently, I was wrong. He keeps telling me that all he needs is a hairbrush, toothbrush, dental floss, and fingernail clippers to groom/cleanse/bathe. Yes, he has stopped using toothpaste and mouthwash, as well. All he uses is water to brush his teeth. That would be one question I have for you, Richard – do you use any sort of products to brush your teeth?

    I have to (very) grudgingly admit that he does not smell at all … no hair funk, no body odor, no armpit odor, no bad breath. His breath did have an unpleasant odor for a small amount of time, but he told me it was because he had run out of dental floss and wasn’t flossing. I guess this was true, since I have not detected any bad breath once he started flossing again.

    I think it is extremely bizarre how he does not use ANY products and does not smell at ALL. Reading the above comments, his experience was exactly the same – a period of time when he was really oily/greasy, but now he says his body is “self-cleansing”. He has even gone so far as to look into the science of this and always talks about something called an “acid mantle”.

    As a female, I feel going completely “product-free” would not be reasonable/feasible to attempt, and I have no desire to try it. I like using all of my stinky girl-products! :) I just wanted to share my comments as someone who thinks this whole ‘product-free’ thing is sort of disgusting, but at the same time, there really appears to be something to it…my b/f is a prime example!

    • Richard Nikoley on August 28, 2010 at 19:07

      That’s a real cool, honest comment Rebecca. I was thinking about doing an update and I think I’ll call attention to your comment to do it.

      For me, now more than a year into this, I would never even consider using another product. I use some stick for the pits, and now and then I’ll use some toothpaste. About it. Normally, I use the toothbrush dry instead of wetting it with water. I get better results. Might want to have your boyfriend give it a try.

    • Helen on August 28, 2010 at 19:27

      I am female, I am product-free and I don’t stink or smell, and I’m sure that if I did, my husband would tell me. The idea that it is “not reasonable/feasible” for females to be product-free is nonsense. So feel free to be disgusted, as I am disgusted by the reek of “beauty” products.

      • Richard Nikoley on August 28, 2010 at 19:51

        Helen, while I hear ya, hell, I can’t even get my wife to give it a try. Here we are away for the weekend and the hotel bathroom counter is littered with every conceivable product.

        And me with my Old Spice stick and a toothbrush (no paste). Makes travel easy, too. The convenience factor is…natural.

      • Alex on August 28, 2010 at 20:26

        ::::: visualizing Richard in an Old Spice commercial :::::

      • Helen on August 28, 2010 at 20:43

        Women have been more heavily conditioned, and for longer, by advertising than men have. Women have also been brainwashed by religion to think of ourselves as “unclean”, too, so we face a double-whammy that way, but I started to go no-product about 15 years ago, when I read in a Susun Weed book that women who use soap on their bits get more yeast infections than women who don’t. At any rate, I stopped using soap on my bits and I just got progressively more product-free over the years. The last thing I gave up products on was my hair, but once I adjusted, man, was I glad.

        Btw, I’m really glad to have found your site. I went very low carb almost a year ago, and in that year I have lost 50lbs. I have about 20lbs to go to reach my ideal weight, but I am not going to worry about it…I look great and I feel great, and that I know that weight will come off if I stay low carb/paleo. Finding sites like yours helps me to stay motivated, so thanks a bunch!

  153. How I Ditched the Chemicals in my Bathroom Cabinet « Health Fitness Support on August 29, 2010 at 16:01

    […] was also inspired by this widely read post by Richard at Free the Animal, in which he described his ditching of soap and […]

  154. Huw on September 7, 2010 at 10:08

    Hi – I was inspired by this post (saw the “feature” on Boing Boing) and it’s been 9 months for product free for me. I don’t need to repeat the story about the process, but thanks to @Rebecca above for the phrase “Acid Mantle” which I had to google and now I get to add my own anecdote here:

    My work (several people working in a tight, sealed space) and my home (15 people sharing a house) came down with several colds and flu cycles this past winter. Since we’re in Buffalo, NY, most of us drive around a lot and stay in sealed environments for 6 – 9 months – we pass germs back and forth constantly. And I worked at an employment agency, lots of hand shakes and sick clients leaning over my desk being sick at me. I walked a lot (including back and forth to work) and stopped using soap: I made it through the winter unscathed. No bugs, at all, no sick days. And I wondered if maybe it had something to do with no soap. “Acid Mantle” *may* be an answer. I’ve got no science to back it up – just learned via google that the acid mantle does help with the germs on the skin.

    Thanks for starting the discussion. Now if I could just get on the diet as well!

    • Helen on September 7, 2010 at 14:34

      “Now if I could just get on the diet as well!”
      I do not mean to be confrontational, but whats to stop you? The only thing you have to lose is ill health and misery.
      p.s. I eat a paleo diet on a very small budget. I do most of my grocery shopping at ___mart, although I don’t buy my meats there.

  155. Wandering Tramp on September 19, 2010 at 01:16

    Thank you for this article! Good to know that other people have had the same experience. I have washed without soap or shampoo for almost two months and my skin and hair have never felt better, and according to those I trust, I don’t smell much different, either. The greasy skin went away in about a week and now my skin feels soft and looks healthier, too.

  156. […] 1 vote by Gary WuNo.  Read about Richard Nikoley's experience going 'poo less here:  a dynamic date hereCannot add comment at this […]

  157. Sample » Three Odd Ways to Save Money on September 25, 2010 at 17:53

    […] #3 Go soap-free.  Yes, that is what I said.  I stumbled upon this link this week,, and fell in love with the idea.  And that’s why my husband calls me a […]

  158. Jillian on September 29, 2010 at 10:36

    For exfloiation, a natural bristled “body brush” can be used to dry brush away dead flakes prior to showering.

  159. No Soap or Poo | Adventure-Some on October 13, 2010 at 04:10

    […] time ago, I ran across this article about not using soap or shampoo. That made me think. And so I dug a little deeper. After reading […]

  160. Soap or No Soap? on December 2, 2011 at 07:47

    […] Back in January I read an article by a guy who read another guy’s article about the use of soap and its impact on your body’s natural odor. The argument is simple: […]

  161. Richard Tieken on May 13, 2015 at 13:15

    I pulled KP (kitchen police) in the Army mess halls(kitchens) a few times. Once I ran the metal trays,that were used to eat from, through the dish washing machine. The Mess Sergeant made me wash 200 trays over again because the first time the water was not hot enough. It should be around 180 degrees to insure that the washing soap skum was not left on the trays–the same situation as with washing your dishes at home. Any soap residue left on trays or dishes will be a haven for bacteria and contaminate the food which then causes diarrhea to the person eating the food. We should all know this.
    The same applies when we wash with soap as the residue will soon be full of bacteria which causes the bad smell on our body. Of course we cannot use 180 degree hot water to get rid of the soap residue so we just live with the stinky bacteria causing smell. Solution is not to use soap in bathing, just clean water as water breaks the cell the bacteria lives in and thus kills it.

  162. Sabbir on September 5, 2015 at 12:27

    The problem you face for using too much shampoo that is hair loss. Shampoo containing the various elements. But every element is not helpful for hair. The SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate) is injurious to the scalp and is one of the main reasons for hair drop. So do not use excess shampoo to your hair . Use shampoo every 1-2 days but not using excess shampoo. When you use too much shampoo it create too much lather and it thinned your hair. On the other hand using excessive shampoo dry and hares your hair.

  163. Carms on January 8, 2016 at 20:15

    So i started the no soap no shampoo water only regimen exactly last christmas 2015. I thought that i used soap and shampoo everyday and nothing good really happened, my hair is always dry, my office mates resort to rebonding their hair to make it beautiful, but im thinking of the chemicals, considering that i rarely take medicine too.

    So for the last two weeks, i notice my armpit’s smells subsided, i use alcohol as deodorant but my armpit smell is almost non existent, whenever im going to the bathroom or alone in my room in smell my armpit, as in my nose almost touching it and really, no smell at all. And i obtained thay from saving money from buying soap! While my hair, i think it is still in its adjustment process, not too oily but still oily. I always wear a hoodie at work to hide them for now. somestimes, my officemates are saying to me that i look like i just came out of the shower, i think my hair has this wet look, im not sure if it is an oily look but they will sure say that if that is the case. Twice a week i bath with apple cider vinegar and warm water. Dandruff still there, but the flakes are getting less and less, noone knows yet im in water only washing… i think my girlfriends will freak out, considering their pouches are full of beauty products.

    I also started the no toothpaste routine, i brush my teeth with salt and gargle warm water. I noticed that my saliva stink less, back then after brushing, my mouth becomes dry that the saliva in mouth stinks. I have this habit of wetting my lip dipping a finger and smelling it (sorry if it disgust you) so the stink comparison, using toothpaste – 80% stink, salt – 10% stink. I dont have the best oral health becausr i indulge in sweets too much in my life, but the stink progress is pretty amazing.

  164. Tylor Keller on December 25, 2018 at 00:16

    Plants have many complex phytochemicals that can calm, restore and heal the skin. Cosmetics containing polysaccharides, complex sugars and starch derivatives can relieve dryness of the skin. Visit for more.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.