Soap Skepticism

Shampoo skeptics are in the news:

Former Conservative MP and author Matthew Parris threw down the gauntlet last week when he announced that he hadn't washed his hair in a decade, and suffered no ill-effects, socially or otherwise. (Hair as light and fluffy as a kitten's coat and odour-free, he assured me.)

While we're confessing our (un?)hygienic heresies, I might as well mention that I'm not a big fan of soap. I do use it on my hands and on half of my face (for shaving), but in general I've not found that it gets me perceptibly cleaner than plain water and a washcloth.

More cynical readers (do we have any other kind?) may suspect a relationship between the timing and content of this post. But no one---not even the members of my immediately family, who are not in the habit of withholding criticism---has ever complained. In fact, the only person ever to comment on the topic was a former girlfriend who approvingly likened my smell to that of milk (fresh, I hope).

Soap is cheap, so there's no compelling economic reason to avoid using it, but I do find that my skin seems healthier when I wash with water only. If you're interested in trying this out for yourself, be advised that there may be a brief adjustment period consisting of a day or two of itchiness, but this should pass quickly. Let us know how it works out.

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I have very oily, very fine

I have very oily, very fine hair, giving it the illusion of being dirty even when it's clean. Worse yet, the fineness means I have to use hair products to get it to do anything at all. My hair - shampoo + styling product = perennially dirty hair.

Good lord, first Tucker at the Mises Institute gives up shaving cream, now Catallarchy is giving up shampoo. Libertopia will destroy the personal hygiene industry.

- Josh

Actually, I said I gave up

Actually, I said I gave up soap, not shampoo. Now that you mention it, though, I am giving that a try, too. I think the last time I used shampoo was Monday morning. Maybe last Sunday. My hair's still oilier than I'd like, but the itching has subsided a bit.

As long as I'm playing guinea pig, I might as well give soapless shaving a try. I'll follow up in a couple of weeks.

Whoops, it was the MP who

Whoops, it was the MP who gave up shampoo.

- Josh

I've tried giving up shampoo

I've tried giving up shampoo before, particularly after I got the water softener. The problem is that people have associated a particular look with "clean" and the sort of always-wet look my hair gets when I only use water even for one day lets everyone know I didn't use shampoo. I have the same sort of fine, oily hair that WP has.

As for soap, Brandon, I think you'd find that your skin seemed perfectly healthy with soap if you have soft water, though soap free cleansers exist for a reason; soap still dissolves the oils on your skin in the process of eliminating the dirt. Of course, a washcloth will rub off the oils while it strips away layers of dead cells, so there probably isn't a difference if you have soft water. If you have hard water you will end up with a residue from the soap's reacting with hardness minerals to form the precipitate known as "soap scum."

Soap does help clean skin!

Soap does help clean skin! From what I know, it breaks down the surface tension of water, thus making it "wetter" and allowing it to clean deeper into the dirt on our skin. Correct me if im wrong someone..

I find body wash infinitely

I find body wash infinitely preferable to soap. Soap leaves a nasty residue on your skin, while the body wash leaves you feeling clean and refreshed.

Soap does help clean skin!

Soap does help clean skin! From what I know, it breaks down the surface tension of water, thus making it “wetter” and allowing it to clean deeper into the dirt on our skin. Correct me if im wrong someone..

That's not how soap works to remove dirt. Typically, soaps are amphipathic substances, i.e. the molecules have a hydrophilic ('water-loving') part, and a hydrophobic ('water-hating') part. The hydrophobic part binds with dirt, oils, grease, etc., and the hydrophilic part binds with water (usually via hydrogen bonding). In this way the dirt is pulled away into the water -- dissolved if you will. Most dirt, tho not all, is largely hydrophobic itself, and therefore won't dissolve in water alone.

Travis - note that this

Travis - note that this residue only happens with hard water.

I'd assumed the phrase

I'd assumed the phrase "Filthy Catallarch" was figurative.

Like Travis, I'm a body wash

Like Travis, I'm a body wash bitch, but I've just finished a bottle and am willing to see what happens when I stop using it. I'll try it this week, and if I find people standing a little further away from me than usual I'll place the blame squarely on you, Brandon.

I know what a ripoff shampoo & conditioner is too (I suspect that a water + lemon juice mixture would have basically the same effect as conditioner), but I'm also one of those people with hair that looks dirty if I don't shampoo it for a couple of days, so giving that up would probably be a bridge too far.

It's figurative only in that

It's figurative only in that we're actually Catallarchists, not Catallarchs. And I'm actually pretty clean, compared to some of the others. When I left Atlanta, it wasn't because I preferred Seattle's weather.

It's been a week since I stopped using shampoo. There's been a distinct improvement since the first day, but I'm still not happy with the results. The linked article says it takes a month, so I'll keep at it for a bit longer and see if it gets any better.

I've shaved three days in a row with just water. It does work, and it's not sa bad as I thought it would be, but it's still a bit uncomfortable. I'll give it another week or so and see how it goes.

Take a damn bath, hippies!

Take a damn bath, hippies!