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‘I don’t smell!’ Meet the people who have stopped washing

 
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From https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/aug/05/i-dont-smell-meet-the-people-who-have-stopped-washing :

David Whitlock has not showered or bathed for 15 years, yet he does not have body odour. “It was kind of strange for the first few months, but after that I stopped missing it,” he says. “If I get a specific part of my body dirty, then I’ll wash that specific part” – but never with soap. As well as germs, soap gets rid of the skin’s protective oils and alters its pH level. Although Whitlock appreciated gaining an extra 15 minutes a day from soap-dodging, his primary motivation was to encourage friendly microbes to live on him in symbiotic harmony. The bacteria get to feast on the ammonia from his sweat and he gets low-maintenance, balanced skin.



I wonder whether using lactic acid bacteria (LAB) would help to rebalance the microbiome on our skin and armpits.
 
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From the link:

     "Whitlock had hoped that he would naturally acquire this type of bacteria simply by stopping washing. He didn’t – and grew quite pongy. So, he harvested bacteria from the soil at a local farm and fed them with ammonia and minerals. When they turned the ammonia into nitrate, he knew he had what he wanted and started narrowing them down to a single strain that seemed happiest on human skin. After he applied the bacteria he had cultured – the stuff the horses were apparently after – he stopped smelling."
 
pollinator
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In my own experience with local hippies and wwoofers, all they've read or heard about is the fad of going "poo-less", so they don't use soap. Apparently they don't use any alternatives, just water or nothing,  And I find that it's quite obvious. Having worked in veterinary medicine all my life, I don't have a very good sense of smell, but I can easily smell them and their body odor. When I give rides to those hitchhikers, they have to sit in the truck bed. Because they smell bad, I won't let them into the cab. The amazing thing is that they ALL claim that they don't smell. Most are offended when I say that they can ride in the back but not up front.  I suspect that their brain has just changed their baseline for what is considered normal and odor free.

I'm not against people going poo-less. To each their own. But as Whitlock discovered, one needs to look at reality and address the issue. Odor producing bacteria and fungi need to be kept in check in some fashion if they aren't being removed via washing. Otherwise the person indeed smells even if they refuse to believe it. Even ancestral hunters were aware of body odor, thus the prehuntung rituals of avoiding certain foods (or opting to fast for 24 hours), taking ritualistic sweat baths, scraping the skin with ritualistic scrapers, etc. All in the attempt to reduce odor.

The fact the Whitlock found microbes that were beneficial to skin health I find very interesting.
 
pollinator
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Hmm, though it is interesting idea, this article doesn't feel trustworthy for me -the guy doesn't look healthy in that headshot, and his beneficial bacteria spray costs 49 dollars with clever marketing.
 
pollinator
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You know how much soap I could buy for $49?
 
pollinator
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Trace Oswald wrote: You know how much soap I could buy for $49?



No, no!  You must invest in the guide and the special journal for "forest bathing," eh?  Odd to have mentioned that term in this article.  

I get the impression that these people might not engage in manual labor, as Jackie Hong admits.  But surely they don't eschew clothing detergents and change their clothes every day.

 
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I have found that a little baking soda sprinkled on a damp hand cloth, like maybe a "pinch" worth, and wiped on my arm pits eliminates any odor there and doesn't add the strong perfumes most "normal" deodorants contain. I also notice the perspiration change compared to the antiperspirants, I actually sweat there now which I expect is a good thing! While I don't use shampoo, I do apply hand soap to my backside during showers. The rest of me is good with just water, but those extra surfactants seem like a good deal in that one spot.
 
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Here is my opinion for the two cents it is worth.  I have been vegan for 40 years. One of the downsides of being vegan for that long is a severely heightened sense of smell.  I can smell a cigarette being smoked ten cars ahead with my windows rolled up.  Consequently I believe that many factors are at work in people who think they do not have to bathe and are very certain they don't smell, its not just about soap and water.

Diet is a big thing when it comes to being clean and smelling clean.  If you eat meat, others can smell it emanating from your pores.  I had some interesting experiences when I trained horses.  I found horses would shy and even panic around meat eaters but they wouldn't around my vegan friends. I can smell people who eat even small amounts of garlic or onions.  Some people I've crossed paths with in Walmart have caused me to gag, I mean really. I tried just breathing thru my mouth around them, but it appears you can also smell thru your mouth.

Now....many years ago I began musing about the washing thing.  I live in the desert, the water is 8.5ph and it was beginning to have its effects on my skin and hair.  I have had people tell me when we were camping for long periods of time that I always looked and smelled clean, even after 10 days.  So I started wondering if I hadn't become rather brain washed about using soap.  I conducted experiments in the heat of summer.  I found that for me, because I am probably a different kind of vegan than a lot of other vegans.....I do grow almost all my own food, but I am mostly a fruitarian.  I stopped eating garlic and onions 20 years ago. I don't drink, smoke (anything), or do alcohol.  I drink a lot of water.

My experiment was successful.  I now wash with organic diluted peppermint soap once a week in summer, every two in winter.  Other than that, its just water showers.  For some reason I have been unable to discern, when I became a fruitarian I stopped sweating.  I might get a little damp but I never really sweat. So yes, it IS possible to do this and not smell, but all the criteria has to be in place and lived as a way of life long term.  And yes, my friends are the kind that will call a spade a spade and everyone agrees that even to their sensitive noses, I do not smell.  My skin has recovered, as well as my hair.  I starting using only Virgin organic coconut oil to clean my face and my complexion did a complete turn around.

Common sense often does not prevail when people start engaging in newer regimes in life.  Has anyone else noticed that people are less and less apt to engage in really thinking something thru anymore....more and more I see what I call a surface only consciousness....they get an idea but they don't really think it thru then they brainwash themselves into believing something is true just because they have decided to think it so.  Uh.....no.

 
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Purity Lopez wrote:
Common sense often does not prevail when people start engaging in newer regimes in life.  Has anyone else noticed that people are less and less apt to engage in really thinking something thru anymore....more and more I see what I call a surface only consciousness....they get an idea but they don't really think it thru then they brainwash themselves into believing something is true just because they have decided to think it so.  Uh.....no.


Truer words never spoken! What is that phrase, the zeal of the new convert?
I am also one of these people with an insane sense of smell, and I love it despite occasional silliness. For the most part it comes in really handy.

Except for when I have accidentally splashed a bit of bokashi liquid on some part of my clothing or skin and even after washing with lye soap I can smell it for the next three days. Anyone wanting to use lactic acid bacteria as a soap alternative, well, don't use the ones in my bokashi!!!
 
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Trace Oswald wrote: You know how much soap I could buy for $49?



Do you know how much soap I can MAKE for $49??? Lol!
 
steward
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I love, love, love the smell of primates.

The smell of robots, and things made my robots, makes me ill.

So when I hug someone, and they smell like a human, and not like a robot, they have already passed one of the fundamental tests that I use for screening potential friends. Life is too short to be training people about how to live pure and free.

 
pollinator
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Since it hasn't been said yet, "those folks who wash smell yucky"

Serious, people who wash smell bad to me. They smell wrong and often way too strong.

People who don't wash smell right, even when they are stinky it is a natural smell not a chemical one, and I can stand it more.
 
Trace Oswald
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For me, there is a happy medium.  I don't like perfume, cologne, drier sheets, strong smells like that of any sort.  I also don't like to be around people that smell like the bottom of a dumpster on a hot August day.  I personally don't bath often and I don't wear deodorant often.  When I do, it is something I made from essential oils.  Most deodorant smells I find distasteful, so I try to be cognizant of the effect I am having on others, but I like the way I smell with no additives most times.
 
Carla Burke
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My nose is ridiculously sensitive. Normal, natural scents are usually fine, for me. We just picked up our first goats, and drove 7hrs with a buck in rut, in the back of a minivan. He was fragrant, lol - but, not offensive, to me. Being in the same confined space with perfume, cologne, or unwashed-for-days-sweaty-human-body-odor would have been intolerable. The perfumes & chemical scents make me sick; as in, horrible headaches and wicked nausea. The stink of unbathed human can be equally unsettling. Normal, daily, haven't been doing much kind of smells are no biggie. But, dude, seriously. If you smell like stale sweat, urine, gasoline, the livestock you've been spending time with, the cars you've been working on, or butt? ~points~ There's the shower! I make & use gentle soaps that I've either left unscented or lightly scented with essential oils or herb infused oils. I may go **up to** 3days, between showers, depending on what I've been doing. If I'm gagging, either you're going to shower, or one of us is leaving.
 
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Oh, lots of disconnected thoughts...

Saw some research mentioned recently that said some people smell and some don't, and they'd taken bacteria from the armpits of people who didn't and innoculated those who did, and the smelly ones stopped smelling.  

I have a colleague who has a very strong body odour (and is unaware of it), but they get very stressed when travelling (which is when I meet them) and can't use deodorant due to allergies so have been given Fucidin cream instead - I think the fucidin has killed off the good bugs and the bad ones have taken over.

When I stayed on a farm in Canada I hardly washed at all and didn't notice any smell or greasiness, BUT the first time I walked in that log cabin the smells of human, animals and rancid milk nearly knocked me over and I thought I would have to leave the next day. By the end of eight weeks I felt right at home.  

I smell far worse after a day in the office than at the weekend.

So I think a lot of perception of smell is about where you are (city or country), how stressed or afraid you are, what your nose becomes used to.  As said elsewhere in the thread, but I don't think any one answer is right.
 
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Purity Lopez wrote:Here is my opinion for the two cents it is worth.  I have been vegan for 40 years. One of the downsides of being vegan for that long is a severely heightened sense of smell.  I can smell a cigarette being smoked ten cars ahead with my windows rolled up.  Consequently I believe that many factors are at work in people who think they do not have to bathe and are very certain they don't smell, its not just about soap and water.

Diet is a big thing when it comes to being clean and smelling clean.  If you eat meat, others can smell it emanating from your pores.  I had some interesting experiences when I trained horses.  I found horses would shy and even panic around meat eaters but they wouldn't around my vegan friends. I can smell people who eat even small amounts of garlic or onions.  Some people I've crossed paths with in Walmart have caused me to gag, I mean really. I tried just breathing thru my mouth around them, but it appears you can also smell thru your mouth.



Sure, you can smell through your mouth. We may not be able to do like a snake, "tasting" the air with its tongue, because our Jacobson's organ is vestigial, but there are evolutionary reasons why taste and smell are more closely linked than the other senses.

I'm not vegan, but I am meat-free, 11 years now. One interesting thing about going meat-free was that it didn't take long before the smell of meat cooking became unpleasant to me. Seriously -- usually, it smells rancid. I constantly wonder how the people cooking and eating it fail to notice that. But then, it may be that they find the smell pleasant mainly because they find the experience of eating it pleasant. It makes sense that a horse should be able to smell a carnivore, since their wild ancestors probably relied on that ability to avoid predators.

As to people who think they don't smell, it might be wishful thinking, or desensitization; but then, it might be that they appreciate human pheromone, which is what body odor originally was. I have been in the rainforest when monkeys come around, and phew!, they smell like humans who have never washed. Likely, the monkeys themselves don't mind, and even gather valuable social information from it.
 
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There's a genetic component to BO (well, probably more than one, but I've only read about one).  It's linked to ethnicity and the type of earwax you produce; people with wet earwax produce a chemical in their armpits that the stink bacteria feed off of.  People who have dry earwax don't produce that chemical and don't smell.  Most East Asians have the dry earwax gene, but only 2% of Europeans do.  I mean, there's more to body odor than just armpits, but I still found that interesting.
 
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