Last week, Our Daily Green's household embarked on the soap free challenge outlined here. When I posted the link and challenge on my personal Facebook page, a fascinating discussion ensued and two friends also joined the challenge. In short, I know five people (including myself) personally who embraced the challenge, although I only was in close proximity of three (again including myself) of them.
I consider the soapless time a skin detox. I gave my skin a break from the constant chemical stripping and then replenishing of its natural defenses. That is what soap does. It absolutely strips the dirt from the body, but it takes the natural oil with it. Then it adds back in another sort of oil to compensate.
In the winter, I tend to only shower every other day as my skin is dry and I'm not working in the yard getting muddy or dirty. So I extended the challenge an extra day to get in three soapless showers. I used an unlathered washcloth, and still washed my body as I would with soap, but just with water. The first thing I noticed was that I didn't have that "squeaky clean" feeling, but also that my skin didn't feel like it was being pulled tight. Instead, I felt refreshed.
My family did agree that we felt a little itchy. I'm relatively sure that is more a function of the hard water (and we always are a little itchy, just not paying as much attention and trying to decide if there was any effect of the soaplessness). One of the points about spreading germs was mentioned and I had to reiterate that the challenge didn't call for filthiness, but rather soapless, and not on the hands. Common sense stays intact. Washing hands with soap is crucial to keeping germs from spreading.
I think ultimately the point of the experiment was to show us that we don't need soap as often or in the quantities we think we do. There is no doubt I love a good lathering up. I'm not prepared to give up my artisan soaps however, now I see that smearing it on my skin repeatedly day after day is not NECESSARY to good hygiene. I think the point was well made.
You're not likely to ever read a post from me that says I went "a year without soap". While I commend such soapless pioneers, I don't consider myself that adventurous. I do think we ought to reconsider that which we've always accepted blindly. I will try the experiment again in the spring, summer and fall... and if it is met with success, I will only use soap every other shower, or when I'm really muddy, or that sort of thing. I have a lot of skin allergies and problems, I've tried creams, lotions, cortisone and steroids. Maybe it's time to realize it's not about adding something but subtracting something to get my skin healthy again.
The past 8-9 years of my life where I've been embracing and really studying organic/green stuff, I've learned to reconsider what I thought was true. It's not about dismissing everything or any sort of radicalism. It's about opening our minds to a simpler, less complicated choice. This is just one of them.
PLEASE NOTE: If you did the No Soap Challenge and want to enter to win the $100 gift certificate to Nubonau, you need to submit your entry by TOMORROW, Jan. 26th! 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.