No Soap Green - Our Daily Green

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Soap Green

Last year, Our Daily Green contemplated the idea of Extreme Green and examined how far we'd be willing to go for a greener lifestyle. Personally, I like pushing my boundaries and seeing if each day I can take one more step. Now, we have found a contest to motivate us.

The authors of the fabulous book, No More Dirty Looks are sponsoring a unique challenge over at their blog of the same name. No More Dirty Looks is a no-holds-barred guide about the truth behind the toxins found in today's beauty products. Authors Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt ask their readers to STOP USING SOAP for the next week or at least 5 days between now and January 26th. You can still shower, rinse, rinse, do your thing. But hands off the bar of soap and body wash. 

So why target soap?

The fact is, we really don't need soap as much as we think we do. In some cases soap can do more harm than good, especially in the case of an anti-bacterial soap, which contains triclosan, an ingredient linked to endocrine disruption that is linked to early puberty and reproductive issues. However, even soaps without this antibacterial agent are not necessarily good for the body.

Soaps contain chemical surfactants that allow oil and water to mix. Soap with more surfactants is better at removing oil, but it disrupts the skin's pH balance when it strips the oils. Healthy skin has a slightly acidic pH of about 5.6 to 5.8 on a scale from 0 to 14, but most soaps are highly alkaline with a pH between 9 and 10.  Essentially, even a soap that is made for dry skin first strips the oil then replaces it with added oils.

With the skin being the largest organ on the body, it is important to care for it properly. Like other popular detoxing diets cleanse the body's organs, a "soap detox diet" could balance the natural protective pH of the skin, helping with dry skin, eczema, and other skin issues. Many soaps are simply too harsh for the skin, loaded with risky chemicals and alcohol, which can cause premature skin aging and irritation.  While conventional wisdom has us convinced that Cleanliness is next to Godliness, the point is that soap may not be needed to be clean. The contest isn't asking us to avoid water and washcloths, just soap.

The contest was inspired by blogger Sean Bonner's account of a year without soap, after being inspired by Richard Nicoley's testimony to soap free washing.  In Sean's words,
As I just mentioned, my skin feels better than ever before. Not that it ever felt bad, really, but it feels awesome now. Still no stink at all, I swear even when I'm really active and sweating I don't notice any B.O., and I used to be ├╝ber self-conscious about this and would think I was stinking if I walked up a flight of stairs too quickly. So this is a huge improvement for sure. And with the exception of changing climates drastically, even the dandruff is history. My previously wavy and mostly unmanageable hair now seems much more willing to bend to my will, a dream of mine since I first looked in a mirror, brush in hand, then tried and failed to make any sense of that monster. So I approve for sure.
Here are the details of the contest:
The rules: No soap, no body wash, nada. This one isn’t about hair though, so you can totally shampoo—just don’t be cheating with those suds. (And yes, for the sake of basic human decency, we encourage you to continue to wash your hands and private parts, obviously.) 
Instructions: Send your no-soap experience to nomoredirtylooks (at) gmail (dot) com, with NO SOAP in the subject line, and keep it to 100 words or less. Please include your first name and city of origin. We need all stories by end of day, Wednesday, January 26th. We will post the best testimonials on our site, as well as on our Facebook page. The person with the most compelling one, be it good or bad, will get a $100 gift certificate to shop at the killer natural beauty store NuboNau.

Pretty please: Help us spread the word! Tweet it, Facebook it, scream from the rooftops, and tell your friends to get on board with you. Besides, it’s better not to stink alone.

The reason for the challenge: Just to test conventional wisdom. More and more people are choosing to go without soap and other conventional cleaning methods. We still use a little, but less than we once did and our skin is happier for it. Give it a whirl.
So are you game? Would you join the no-soap challenge?
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