Results of My “No Soap, No Shampoo” Experiment

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by Vlad Dolezal on February 23, 2010

Over a month ago, I stopped using soap and shampoo (except soaping my hands). Here’s what happened.

Why I got started

I started after an AMA on reddit pointed me to this article about a guy who stopped using soap and shampoo. His benefits include:

  • hair and skin softer than ever before
  • hair less greasy than before (even though he hadn’t used shampoo in 6 months)
  • no bad smell in private parts (I personally never had a problem with this, but it might interest some people)
  • saving money

The basic idea is that your hair has a natural oiliness to it. But you keep blasting the natural oil away with shampoo, so your body compensates by producing more oil in your scalp to coat the hair, which makes you use more shampoo, which makes the body produce even more oil, and so on.

When you stop using soap and shampoo, it apparently takes your body about two weeks to notice it and re-establish natural healthy grease production. After that, you’re fine.

You also easily wash off most natural impurities (like sweat) with water. You’d only want to use soap if you’re taking a walk through a deserted car factory and slip and land in a big puddle of motor oil. Or something.

So I choose to be a bit of an expedition leader on this and try it as well!

How I did my experiment

Firstl let me straighten up one thing. Throughout the experiment, I kept washing my hands with soap. I like hygiene.

Also, after about a week or two, I started using soap on my armpits – they simply started smelling too soon after washing if I used just water.

Aside from that, I showered almost daily, with plain water only. No soap, no shampoo.

Here’s what I noticed:

  • as expected, during the first two weeks my hair built up a lot of grease
  • after that, it cleared up quite a bit. Still felt moderately greasy.
  • my skin feels soft and clean. I haven’t used any soap or shower gel on my body since the beginning of the experiment, and I don’t see a reason to do so anytime soon.
  • showering feels like a lot less of a hassle (since it only involves water)

On the shampoo bit… even after 3 weeks, my hair felt a bit greasy. So I decided to use some shampoo. (Around day 25 of my experiment, if I remember correctly). My hair then felt unnaturally dry and… just not quite right. (On second thought, I also had to use a hair dryer that day. That might explain the icky unnaturally dry feeling.)

Then the grease slowly built up in my hair, until I got the urge to use shampoo again about a week later. Which I did.

I’m still going to experiment with that a bit. I’ll see if not shampooing at all will work, or if shampooing about once a week will be right for me. Still a big difference compared to my previous shampooing every one or two days.

A few questions you might be thinking

1. Do I smell?

I don’t smell. Yes, I asked several independent observers.

2. Are there any downsides to not using soap and shampoo?

One I can think of. Most shower gels and shampoo smell really nice – I miss that. Aside from that, I can’t think of any downside.


Here’s my conclusion:

  • I will continue not using soap on my body. I just can’t see a reason for soap.
  • I will do a bit more experimenting with shampooing to see what’s best for me
  • overall, it’s been a very interesting and useful experiment!

Have you ever gone without something most people consider essential? If yes, please share your experience in the comments. I always enjoy hearing from fellow non-conformists! :)

(image courtesy of simonhua)


Update on my other experiments

Here are a few more tidbits I want to share:

I recently finished a 30-day trial of meditating at least 10 minutes every day. To be honest, I didn’t really see the point of meditation.

I tried a few different ways of meditating. Focusing on a single object didn’t seem to do anything. Counting my breaths or my heartbeat was at least quite interesting. It also provided a way of measuring how long I could focus (except when I zoned out but still subconsciously kept counting my breaths. Damn you clever subconscious!).

So I asked people on twitter what meditation gives them. Here are some answers:

  • helps focus during the day
  • helps relax before going to bed
  • clarity, stillness, emotional balance
  • get more oxygen (through improved breathing)

And, as @fabeku very insightfully pointed out, I might already have all of those, which is why I don’t see the point of meditation! (Thanks @yougotsnookied and @chrisdumler for their input, too!)

I already get improved breathing through my morning yoga, focus and clarity by taking regular naps and brainstorming breaks, emotional balance through personal development, relaxing before bed by reading a good fiction book… I guess I might still benefit from some stillness, though :)

Anyway, meditation helps a lot of people, but it’s just not my thing. I will continue to live without it.

Other trials I’m planning

I’m now two days into a 30-day trial of reading for at least 1 hour each day. I’m establishing this habit because I’ve built up a stack of at least a dozen books I really want to read, but reading always seems to slip my schedule. Not anymore!

I will also try switching to Uberman’s Sleep Schedule this September… which is quite a while away, but it will definitely be worth it to get it right! I’m already excited 😀

I’m also planning to try journalling daily, and I’m testing out Karl Staib’s idea of giving your subconscious instructions before going to sleep.

As always, I’ll let you guys know if anything especially interesting emerges :)

And that’s all for now. See you on Friday!