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Soap-less Shower Craze

Are soap-less showers really a thing?

I read this article the other day where two men and two children decided (well the children just followed suit) to stop using soap for 6 months and it was quite interesting. The two men and two girls used only warm water and their hands to bathe and the girls used conditioner every few days to keep their hair detangled. Keep reading to see how they, and others, fared with this soap-less shower craze.

Do not use soap plaque

How was their skin before eliminating soap?

One of the men had dry skin and rough elbows, the other man had oily, acne-prone skin, and one of the girls suffers from eczema on one of her legs.

Water-only Bathing Results

The first guy noticed the texture of his dry skin began to change on his elbows. It started to peel off and then it eventually stopped. His hair condition actually improved and became more normal. The second guy’s skin became more oily and he had no acne. Both men were not as funky after a long day’s work and had noticed that they had almost no odor or moisture in their privates. They still needed to use deodorant despite being less funky. The girls didn’t have any body odor and they didn’t comment on any change in the girl’s eczema.

The results surprised me, to be honest. Skin needs exfoliation to get rid of all the dead skin cells. The article did say that they were previously using Dove moisturizing soap, which we know is not actually soap, but synthetic detergents and surfactants.

I wonder if they originally used handmade soap would they have had the same results?

They did say that they did use soap to wash their hands, just not their bodies.

Just the thought of not using soap in the shower irks me…and no body sponge either? How do you get rid of all the dead skin cells, the dirt? I feel like I wouldn’t know what to do without soap or a sponge. Do you just stand in the shower wiping yourself with water? You miss the whole experience of the invigorating scents of the soap and the fun of playing in the lather.

There are more people doing this?

I scoured the internet to see who else was doing this. This really is a thing. People are not using soap or have reduced their soap usage significantly. Mind…blown. The overall results were similar to the guys from the other article; their skin had more of a glow, they weren’t too funky, and they didn’t feel the need to moisturize.

Conor Arpwel set twitter ablaze last spring when he tweeted: “Do you wash your legs when you take a shower?” I didn’t even know this was an option.

Twitter poll asking if people wash their legs or not

I’m certainly glad that 80% of people are not walking around with stinky legs. I kind of wish the number was a little closer to 100% though. I always thought the whole point of taking a shower was to wash your ENTIRE body. At least, that’s how I was taught.

Here’s my opinion

I remember watching an episode of Dr. Oz where they did a test to see which was the most effective at removing bacteria from your hands, plain water, hand sanitizer, or soap. They swabbed a lady’s hand after using each and sent it to a lab. Which do you think did the better job? Ding, ding, ding! Soap of course. Think of this in regards to the rest of your body; it’s probably full of bacteria.

Let’s get scientific

Here’s my understanding of how all of this is supposed to work. Sebum is what makes up the majority of the skin’s natural oil. It comes from the sebaceous gland which is located between the epidermis (the skin’s outermost layer) and hair follicles.

Diagram of skin layers, showing the location of the sebaceous gland, epidermis, and hair follicle
Location of Sebaceous Gland, Epidermis, and Hair Follicle

Skin is hydrophilic and loves oily things. Water is, well, water, so it’s hydrophilic and drawn to watery things. If our skin is pretty much covered in a layer of oil, to keep in the moisture, it will naturally attract dirt to its surface. There’s this basic principle in chemistry called like-dissolves-like, whereby, solvents of a certain property will dissolve another solvent with the same or similar property. That sounds confusing, I know. Water dissolves water. Oil dissolves oil. That’s it in a nutshell.

If our skin is hydrophobic and oily and has dirt stuck to the surface and water has the opposite property (or polarity) and likes water, how is it supposed to remove the dirt? Oil and water just don’t mix!

Now, this is just my take on it. There’s probably some surface tension/adhesion with the dirt to the oil and I don’t believe that hydrogen bonds of water are strong enough to remove the dirt. I have some scientific background, but if you are proficient in science and I’m wrong, please let me know in the comments. This isn’t even factoring bacteria! Would you eat off of a plate that had raw chicken on it if that plate was only rinsed with water? I wouldn’t, but that’s just me.

Tell me what you think

Society dictates to us from the time that we are in diapers that we need soap to bathe. Have we been wrong this entire time? People are claiming that their skin is better than ever without soap. Are you willing to test this out? Would you be willing to bathe without soap? Let me know in the comments.