Yep, you read that correctly. As of this writing, it's been exactly six months since one drop of shampoo or soap has touched my body. Now before you start vomiting and send sympathy cards to my poor wife and co-workers, let's get something straight. I still bath every single day. I just don't use soap or shampoo to clean myself.
I'm sure this isn't the first time you've heard of somebody ditching shampoo. There's been a "no poo" movement out there for quite some time and everybody has their reasons for doing so. Some folks are convinced that deadly toxins are seeping into our bodies via our hair follicles and we're being poisoned by The Man and Big Poo. Some people want to save money or save the environment.
I didn't really have any special reason for stopping, other than it interested me for some reason. I figured there were only two outcomes possible: my hair would get worse or get better. I have thick and coarse hair and I've never really been happy with it. I've also struggled with dandruff for as long as I could remember and never found a shampoo that got rid of it.
As long as I was in an experimental mood, I decided to knock out soap as well and see what happened. I would still shower everyday, but instead of lathering myself up with products, I would stick with hot water, a wash cloth, and good ol friction.
Until I decided to write this post, I generally don't yap too often about the fact I don't wash with soap and shampoo. When I do, most people make a face and say something along the lines of eww, gross, and get away from me, you freak. Then the inevitable first question: "Don't you stink?"
The answer of course, is a big fat no. If I did stink, I would have went back to soap right away. Remember, I didn't stop bathing. I'm not a flea covered hobo and I can assure you that I'm quite clean when I step out of the shower.
Here's the thing that I realized: mother nature knows what she's doing. Our bodies are designed to take care of themselves. Even though it sounds a little gross, our skin and hair discharge natural oils and....stuff, to naturally repel dirt and keep our hair and skin healthy and soft.
After six months of no shampoo, my hair is completely soft, manageable, and the healthiest it's felt and looked. Ever. Same goes for my skin. It's the middle of January and while everybody around me is complaining about dry skin and slathering themselves with lotion, my face and arms are soft and smooth. No winter itch here.
The only part on my body that's dry this winter? My hands, because I do dishes with dish soap and wash my hands with soap after I use the bathroom. Coincidence? I think not.
That's what soap and shampoo do. Cleansers strip the moisture from your body and leave you feeling dry and itchy. To combat this, you load up on moisturizing this and conditioning that to replace what mother nature would provide if you just gave her a chance! And don't get me started on lip balm. I never touch the stuff.
The Breaking in Period
Thinking about ditching the suds and taking the plunge? Great! You'll never have to buy another bottle of shampoo, conditioner, or bar of soap. Your showers will take half the time, your face will clear up, and your dandruff will go the way of the dodo (shampoo is drying our your scalp, dummy!).
Be forewarned, there is a transition period you should be prepared for. Immediately after you stop using shampoo and soap, your body will not be happy. Your hair and skin are used to getting stripped of their natural oils by chemicals, so they're going to complain when you stop. Your hair will feel oily and your skin will too. Not to mention, you'll probably have a little psychological effect of just feeling "gross" for a few days.
Relax. This is normal and temporary. It will take a week or two for your hair to balance out and take care of itself. Initially feeling heavy and greasy, your hair turns more more soft and natural once it gets used to no shampoo. Your skin will adapt much faster.
I've found once I stopped washing my face with soap I get fewer zits. Body odor in my pits has decreased instead of increased. My dandruff hasn't completely disappeared, but it's vastly improved once I knocked off the Head & Shoulders.
So that's that. After six months I see no reason to ever go back to shampoo or soap. What about you? Have you kicked the poo? What about the soap? Share your experiences in the comments. Or call me a freak. I have thick skin. Incredibly soft and lovely thick skin.
Update: 7/11/2016 A year and a half later, and I'm still shampoo and soap free. Judging by the amount of comments, it seems plenty of people out there are interested in joining me. My next experiment? Cold showers! I tried to get started in the middle of winter, but as you can imagine that's not the best time. There are many claims out there of the benefits of cold vs. hot showers including:
Robert Brumm is the author of several books and only acts like a flea covered hobo. Please subscribe to his blog.