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Have any of you stopped using soap/shampoo?  RSS feed

 
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I'm thinking that people went without soap or shampoos for a long time, so what would happen if you just cleaned using water and your hands? Kind of scrub your scalp with your fingers, and do the same to all your "parts".

Have you ever tried it?
 
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I've not used shampoo for about two and a half years now. And I only wash my (fairly long) hair about once a week. As far as I can tell there have been no adverse effects; my hair isn't greasy or smelly, and seems to be in good health (despite my complete lack of care).

I do use soap and shower gel however. I have a physical day job so I never made the transition to just washing with a flannel and water... When I wash rather than shower I just use water, again to no obvious I'll effect. I have very healthy skin.

There is a fairly comprehensive thread here on Permies that was my original inspiration for going 'pooless. I seem to recall some discussion regarding alternatives or substitutions for shampoo discussed in the same thread.
 
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Location: Big Bay, U.P. of Michigan
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Humans have been using soap since about 2800 B.C. The use of shampoo (detergent) to clean hair is relatively knew.

I have been using baking soda wash and vinegar rinse for my longish hair for more than five years now and I like it.
I would really like to use homemade, lye soap for washing, but I don't always have that available, so I use the simplest soap I can buy ... something like Ivory.

I couldn't find the original permies post about going "poo-less", but it was there about five years ago.

-Peace

 
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I’m nearly no-poo (except when the chickens exercise their own idea of what that means). It wasn’t intentional, it just sort of happened.

I have ridiculously long hair and far too much of it. When I lived in town, I was washing my hair with shampoo and conditioner at least once every 48 hours, usually two or three times in two days. I wash my hair whenever it felt greasy or started to look really icky. Which was pretty much a few hours after it dried. I don’t need perfect looking hair, I just want hair that doesn’t look like I slept in a bath of oil.

Then I started getting a very itchy, dry rash on my head. This was pretty nasty so I turned to the internet to learn how to make it better. There was this treatment where you massage sesame oil into the scalp an hour before washing it. I tried that and it felt so much better. Very soon, I didn’t need conditioner. And after a couple of months, I noticed that I wasn’t washing my hair everyday. I was only washing it every 4th day. This was a huge difference and cut my shampoo cost by three-quarters.

What the oil does, is a bit like drinking vinegar when you have heartburn. Antacids tell your stomach to make more acid which gives you more heartburn. Drinking vinegar tells your stomach that it’s got enough acid, we can stop making so much now. Same with massaging oil into the scalp. Shampoo strips the oils away from the skin and the skin thinks it has to make more to make up the difference. This is very popular, I’m told, in traditional India. They have beautiful hair in India, so it’s worth a try.

After about 6 months, I was just too lazy to massage my scalp each time I wanted to wash my hair. I was down to about once every 10 days. Then I saw a documentary which mentioned how people used to care for their hair in Medieval England. They didn’t use soap on their hair, and very seldom rinsed it with water. What they did do was to comb it very well with a very fine, wooden, comb and then an even finer tooth wooden comb. This got the tangles out and the finer comb helped to spread the oils evenly throughout the hair and remove any dust particles. This works really, really well, especially for long hair.



I still use shampoo from time to time for getting smells (like when I’ve been smoking bacon) and chicken muck out of it, but most of the time the fine wooden comb and water are enough to keep my hair looking and feeling clean
 
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I stopped using shampoos, body soaps, deodorants, perfumes, detergents, laundry chemicals, dish-soaps, and other cleaning products about 5 years ago, because a friend was allergic to them. Now, water is my only cleaning agent. I make a couple of exceptions: If I have been mechaniking and have greasy hands. If I have a deep flesh wound. She was a popular gal within my tribe, and even before then, my tribe tends towards  not associating with mega-companies or their products. Therefore even though the lady with the allergies has gone away, we still keep ourselves pure by  abstaining from the use of cleaning chemicals. One of the things that I like hearing most from members of my tribe is "You smell great". It's our way of saying to each other, "I honor you for living a pure and wholesome life."
 
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I have curly hair and it looks a lot better when I don't use shampoo. I "co-wash" (conditioner-wash), which is exactly what it sounds like. I just use conditioner, which is almost entirely oils anyway. That keeps my scalp from getting oily and flaky, just as shampoo would, but it makes my hair look (and feel) a lot healthier and less frizzy than it looks with shampoo. There's no reason why people who have straight hair can't co-wash too! I would definitely use conditioner, not straight oils, simply because oils will make the shower slick and dangerous to move around in. Conditioner is emulsified so that it rinses away and doesn't cling to everything.

I definitely use soap. I like soap. But I use pretty simple, vegetable-based soap (my neighbor makes it and it's amazing!) that doesn't have any harsh processing or drying ingredients.
 
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I also don't use shampoo, body wash or deodorant. I do use a grey water safe detergent.

Like Joseph, I will use soap for a deep cut to keep it from getting infected, but that is it.

I manage a warehouse, so I am physically working half the day and in the office the other half of the day, and I never hear complaints about smell.  It's seems counter intuitive but I feel that I may get more of a funk in the winter. Wearing multiple layers makes it harder for my body to breathe, and keeps the sweat from evaporating.
 
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I think I'm going on three of four years with no shampoo and definitely was inspired by the 'pooless' thread here at permies https://permies.com/t/6347/personal-care/purity/poo-Shampoo-Soap-Shower (I don't see that thread in the 'similar topics' at the bottom of this thread). 

I use just hot shower water mostly and occasionally a bit of baking soda dissolved in hot water, massaged in and then rinsed out.  My hair has always been thick and has just gotten more so since I quit using shampoo and is still shiny and healthy looking...I like a little coconut oil in the winter when it's dry. 

I've mostly quit using soap also except for some hand washing and I have to admit I love using a luffa and Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap every once in awhile.  We've used it for more than forty years and I like to support a company that is using hemp...that's my excuse 
 
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Now, maybe I'm a dirt magnet, but I'm always washing grease, soot, chicken poop, etc. off my hands, and don't know how I would not transfer whatever was on my hands, to whatever I might touch next, that might not benefit from applications of same.  Just rinsing doesn't get everything off, as I remember my mother was always on my case about getting the towels dirty, after not washing my hands thoroughly enough.  I'm fine to shower without soap unless I've been manhandling the bucks, for example, but am I the only person who would leave greasy, grimy fingerprints all over everything if I didn't use soap?
 
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I think the last time I used shampoo was about seven and a half years ago.  I think I haven't really thought of it for years.  Really what I use is hot water as soap.  Although, when I normally shower, I use soap other places.

Also, sometimes I use a hot bath for medical reasons, to induce a fever in me, sometimes up to 103 degrees.  I don't have any soap.  I will have Epsom Salts, and maybe a little Lavender Oil, or some such.  I also might have a Ozone Bubbler. I also drink a lot of water, too.   At the end, I always use a coarse towel to scrap all the skin off me.  Then I rinse off under the shower.  I feel really clean for a few days afterwards.  So, I think it is dead skin that needs to come off, not so much what soap takes away, although that does a job, too. 

But, before you shower/bathe you might want to do dry brushing.  There is a proceedure that aids the Lymphatic System.  This proceedure I also do with the wet towel at the end of my bath.  You can see a chart here:

https://greensmoothiegirl.com/articles/healthy-habits/skin-brushing/

Video here:




P.S.  I don't drain the tub right away.  I let it cool to room temperature, to warm the rooms around it.  That is free 1,000 BTUs or so.  Another thing is that you can see the piles of dead skin at the bottom.  After a while of sitting, make some waves in the water, and let it settle down.  The skin will accumulate in lumps. 







 
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Regan Dixon wrote:I'm fine to shower without soap unless I've been manhandling the bucks, for example, but am I the only person who would leave greasy, grimy fingerprints all over everything if I didn't use soap?



No, you're not!  I'm a pediatrician, so at work I wash my hands, with soap, 15-20 times a day at least. (I hate the hand sanitizer gel.) This totally strips the oils from my hands, so I will wash my hands and then apply Bag Balm (a mix of petroleum jelly and lanolin) or a more natural mix of oils and beeswax at home.  At work, I slather on the Bag Balm, rub it in and then use paper towels to wipe my finger pads, so I don't get goo all over the keyboard of my computer, and everything else I touch.  The lanolin will last through several washings, I don't have to apply Bag Balm more than once a day, usually.  I tend to put it on as a demonstration to someone whose kid has eczema.  After I've applied it, I run my hand through the water and show them how the water drops are beaded up on the back of my hand.  I say "I look like a waxed car!"

When I'm cooking and I have lard or coconut oil all over my hands, I need some soap (probably dish soap, because that's what's in the kitchen) to get that off, else everything in my kitchen would end up coated in grime.

I've cut way down on my use of soap and shampoo, and I think my face is much better for just being scrubbed with water, but I use soap on my hands all the time.  I also shave my armpits once a week or so, and use soap as a shaving cream.  Generally, though it's amazing what water will dissolve and remove.  They called it the universal solvent in chemistry class.
 
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Haven't used soap or shampoo for a long time--if I'm sweaty I take a hot water shower--or cold in summer,,sometimes several times a day

Sometimes I use olive oil on my scalp (and skin) when I think of it
 
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I haven't used shampoo or soap regularly in years, starting about 8 years ago.  There is definitely an adjustment period after you stop using it, but after a while your skin will get used to regulating its oils and you just won't have a problem with getting too oily/smelly.  I just use water in the shower.  The occasional exceptions are usually when traveling, or when it's been too long since I've showered (sometimes I'll go a week or so in winter time).  My girlfriend still uses shampoo sometimes but she gets that it's not necessary.  We use coconut oil sometimes (winter/dry season) to supplement when our skin gets dry.

For hand washing, I mainly just use water.  It works well for getting sugars (from cutting up fruit/veggies) or similar stuff off your hands, even dirt when I'm outside in the garden.  I just use the hose frequently. 
If there's anything greasy, lots of dirt, sap, or something gross that wont come off easily, I use baking soda.  That gets things off pretty easily and makes your hands feel pretty good.  The only thing is it's a little harder to "stretch" than liquid soap.

For surface cleaning in the kitchen/around the house, we use a mix of white vinegar, water, some good smelling essential oil like lavender or lemongrass, or a bit of dr. bronners.  Mixed in a spray bottle.  If you just use white vinegar diluted with water that works just as well.  Or, even better- when we have lemon/lime peels, we put them in a jar with white vinegar, let it sit for a week or so, then dilute with water in a spray bottle.

For our washing machine, we have been using a natural powdered soap (grey water safe) called Molly's Suds, but I just ordered Soap Nuts to give that a try as well.

The worst product going down our drain is the soap we use to wash dishes.  If anyone has suggestions on a homemade/clean dish soap alternative, let me know!
 
pollinator
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I work hard on on my farm just about every day. It's not uncommon for me to take two showers a day because I'm not interested into going into town soiled and smelling like a ram. So yes, I use soap. No apology.

Where I live in the tropics, skin infections are common among people who don't bathe daily. Bathing with soap is the easiest way to prevent skin infections. I can always tell when my wwoofer has run out of soap by looking at his face and feet.

In addition, I routinely pick up hitchikers. It's a common practice here. My rule is that ALL hippy types ride in the truck bed. They smell too bad to ride in the cab. Sorry, but that's the truth.

On the other hand, I can believe that people can over do soap in certain situations. So using soap wisely is the thing.
 
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Yes! I started going no shampoo by washing with conditioner sometimes, but now my routine is like this. Every few days if I'm feeling some scalp buildup, I gently scrape my whole scalp with my nails to remove it. Serves as a massage and distributes natural oils through my hair. About once a week I "wash" it with hot water while doing the scalp massage with fingertips. And about once a month I use a sulfate-free shampoo (so it doesn't strip my hair as badly). I put the shampoo on the hair only, not my scalp, only let it sit for 30sec to a minute and rinse it out. The main improvement I've seen over using shampoo most or every shower is that my hair feels and looks thicker and I don't have to use any styling products bc the natural oils help it do its thing. Never smells or looks oily. But what works for you depends on your hair type. I have dark curly hair. Straight blonde hair will appear oily much sooner, but folks w this hair type can still cut back on shampoo use.

As for soap, I also use it sparingly ("hit the high points") every now and then when I feel I need it, like others said when you need something that will cut grease or oil. And I wash my hands with it, Dove or homemade only. The way I normally clean my skin is using the oil cleansing method (easy to Google also called oil replacement method) and I use sunflower oil. The oil you should use depends on your skin type, I tried coconut before but it broke my skin out, then I found out it's comedogenic (clogs pores) and not recommended for oily skin, which I have. But the method basically works like this (and I think comes from Ayurvedic practice). If it's cold you need a heat source, if it's already warm you're all set. You want your pores to open, and you massage the oil in all over (some people like to go in a certain order/direction to stimulate the lymph system). So you get a full body massage in the process plus a little workout if you're doing it youself! Then you get in a hot bath or shower, I like to let my pores open more while I keep massaging. When you're ready you just exfoliate, the oil and hot water help lift dirt and grime from your skin. I also discovered that exfoliation depends on skin type, dry skin needs more/coarser exfoliation while oily skin needs gentler perhaps less frequent exfoliation (too much can stimulate more oil production). I use a washcloth, or sometimes a poof but I'm gentle. Dry skin can tolerate a loofah or similar. This method cleans the skin and helps support a natural balance of oils.
 
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Been "clean" and soap-ber for 4 years now. Im never told I stink, I never feel or smell gross until Ive really earned it. Using products always left me dry and crispy followed by an oily, dirty feeling.

Hairs and teeth have never been happier since I decided to make my own products. (extremely diluted ACV/essential oil for hair, baking soda/coconut oil/salt for teeth)

For a good time, google 'sodium lauryl sulfate' and then go through any selection of toothpaste/bodywash/shampoo... anywhere. Sinister stuff!
 
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I bath everyday, washing the armpits with coconut oil, the other "pits" with water.
I oil pull and brush my teeth with a well.
Until my new more civilized job, I used coconut oil for deodorant as well.
I've gone conventional, since I no longer work as a construction worker, I try to moderate my scent to match the ambient atmosphere.

I actually shower every month or so, or as the spirit moves me. My skin has never been healthier.


 
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Up above, R Ranson shows a picture of a wooden comb.  I ended up getting the same sort of comb to carry around with me in my hip purse.  It's awesome! I have long hair, waist length at the moment, and that comb works great.  It is so much better than any awful plastic combs.

I got mine on Amazon.  I'm not sure if the wood is sustainably sourced -that's one issue.  It's sandalwood.  But the concept is wonderful, even for rather long hair.

I also use wooden brushes, which are great for long hair, to.  Very gentle. They last a fairly long time, longer if you comb your hair first with the solid comb like above.

About 3 months ago, I finally went almost-no-poo.   I'm going to put those comments into the "Going Poo-less" thread, though: https://permies.com/t/6347/personal-care/purity/poo-Shampoo-Soap-Shower

But the sum-up is, the wooden "beard" comb and a wooden brush do work quite well with poo-lessness and long hair.
 
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I went poo-less about four months ago.  For the first month I felt I needed to give my scalp a scrub every day when I took a shower and then I would sort of scrub my head with my towel to make sure my hair was a not oily (my face and head have a tendency to be very oily.  After that first month I started lessening up on all the scrubs.  I also started swimming in the pond and called that my shower.  Soon a dip in the pond became all I do.  No scrubbing of anything.  I will pat myself dry if I have to go inside, but if not I let myself air dry.  I think my skin is now healthier and I know my face and head as well as the rest of my body do not produce oils anywhere near as much.  Part of that oil cure is also due to removing all animal products from my diet.  Oh, and since I have gotten to the final stage of being poo-less I also no longer have dandruff.  Took about two and a half months to get there.  I was not nasty during that 2.5 month period, but not squeaky clean either.  I just gradually progressed with doing less as my body got used to the change.
 
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Back in the day they used to call it -- and use it! -- "elbow grease". That's all I use now, since recently I learned we have like beneficial bacteria, not just in our guts, not just throughout our whole alimentary canal, but all over us as well as within us. I had got the "all thru us" part but hadn't dawned on me till i heard about it some virtual where...i cant recall: that soap strips off the good bacteria as it washes off the "unsightly" "dirt" & "grease" (read soil & naturally protective oils). So the soaps of the future will be probiotic, if they're real with reality. The antibacterial menace just sells your skin down the river, if you still buy their B.S.? Don't look back! Think of it as giving yourself a massage as you clean, if the hard laborious drudgery of "elbow grease" makes you queasy.
 
Conner Murphy
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I think that when you use soap / shampoo, your skin and hair are stripped of their natural oils, so they naturally compensate by ramping up oil production to the point where it feels gross, so you then use more soap to get "clean", etc. in an endless cycle.  When you stop using soap, the body has to re-calibrate it's oil production because it's making too much.  After a couple of months it has adjusted and it only creates the amount of oil necessary to keep dirt off the skin, create a bacterial barrier, support immune function, etc.  This is why people get stuck to the idea that not using soap is dirty... because they don't try it for more than a couple days when their body is used to being stripped of it's oils every day, even multiple times a day.   You're gonna be smelly for a couple weeks, deal with it.  Then you can enjoy the money you saved and the stronger immune system you'll have.
 
Nick Dimitri
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Much Thanks Conner! Therein's a very good, even important, point: that with this and many things there's a hump to get over. About so many such things I've heard nuf times "I tried that but didn't work for me". Didn't give it enuf time = answers it. ...Tho i would think once peops understand they would rush to stand under, led by the promise of saved skin, literally as well as figuratively...as one realization leads to another and so on. But I dunno bout that "endless cycle". Geez, even machines burn out, so that process is degenerative, like all such so called "endless cycles", so best changed, dropped (soap like a hot potato
 
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Did you see Dr Redhawk's recent reply on grime?  Some grime would be oily and water alone doesn't cut it very well.

I don't like poo-less, I smell my hair after a couple days so pretty safe bet others can smell it too.  However I just spent about 75 days without bar soap almost.  The shampoo run-off would have ran across pretty much every hot spot and have had some incidental cleaning but what I relied on mainly was warm showers and a shower brush on the end of a stick form factor. The shower brush feels better than a wash rag on thick skin.  I had a minor problem with my face like a plugged pore and used old time shaving soap and a washrag on the facial hotspot.  I also had a couple plugged pores and hair follicles on my legs too; it felt nice to end the experiment.  I don't want to use soap daily neither do I want to go 75 days between.  I don't think it makes sense at all to use products that you have to compensate for by turning around and using other products (like conditioner lotion, and moisturizer).  On the other hand a lot of the crap they want to sell us depends on advertising (soap opera reference) not on real needs driving sales.

I'm also learning how to use a straight razor because it isn't disposable plastic and it didn't come in wasteful packaging neither did the bar of shaving soap.
 
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I haven't used shampoo but a couple times a year for over twenty years, my wife maybe ten. Our hair is gorgeous, healthy, and clean.

Hot water and fingers


as far as soap, I think the base is pretty helpful in eliminating various bad things that you don't want growing on you, that said I'm betting the less grain and sugar and the more primal you eat the less it would be required.
 
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Many people who smell bad can't notice it because they're used to it. Backpacking in China's north I didn't bathe or wash my clothes much because it was so cold and I had no hot water. All seemed fine to me until we reached the city and we were told we smelled like homeless people.

Volunteering in a hostel in summer, I ran out of deodorant and couldn't be bothered buying another one. After a while someone told me I really need it especially as I'm dealing with visitors, and again I didn't notice it.

In Kenya I was on an isolated farm without soap. Eventually not washing my hands with soap after using the toilet caused me to fall ill. Rinsing with water and rubbing my hands on leaves wan't enough.

My hair looks fantastic when it's unwashed by shanpoo. Better texture, better darker colour, and I can naturally style it as though it's waxed. It gets itchy initially, but that goes away with time. The problem is the oil that builds up, and my hair spreads it to any surface it touches. So I use shampoo. Maybe I'll try just conditioner instead. As a backpacker I never carried shampoo; just rubbed my hair in soap and it was always clean.

---

Doctors now say a penis- especially the part underneath the foreskin- should be cleaned only with water and never with soap. If a sensitive part of the body requires only water and is harmed by soap, it seems to make sense that no other part of the body needs soap either (apart from hands).
 
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