If you read the article, 10 Disgusting Ways To Create Less Waste, you may remember disgusting way #5: Don’t use soap in the shower. Soaps, body washes, and scrubs all come with packaging and substances that are essentially wasted.
Aside from decreasing waste, I stopped using soap in the shower for the same reason I stopped wearing eye shadow, uncomfortable pumps, and body lotion – it doesn’t make me feel good.
This article is an account of my experience and how I came to refine my personal philosophies on waste and personal care (which are still works in progress).
The Day I Went Dirty Hippie
It all started when I read a bunch of articles about people who stopped using soap and shampoo. They felt gross for a week or two, but then their bodies regained their natural balance and started producing optimal amounts oil to maintain smooth, moisturized skin.
Sounds pretty good, right?
So, I stopped using soap and body wash on my skin. Then, I stopped washing my hair.
I also switched from body lotion to natural oils, like coconut, olive, and grapeseed oils. I even threw in a couple drops of an essential oil, like neroli or lavender.
As a result, my skin felt smoother and firmer. My complexion was more even and glowy.
However, the hubs stopped running his fingers through my hair, and I started to miss the way my hair bounced and waved after it was washed.
So, I started reading more articles about people who use baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and all sorts of other stuff on their heads to clean their hair without disrupting the pH of their scalps and natural oil production. And of course, I read articles on how using baking soda and apple cider vinegar on your head is a terrible idea and very disruptive.
Ahhh! I was so confused.
I really wanted to reduce my material consumption in order to decrease waste and fulfill my personal desire to be “all-natural,” but it seemed like every idea, every method, every all-natural solution still included some waste, some tradeoff, and some unfulfillment on my end. (Hashtag hippie white girl problems.)
Not Using Soap Made Me Kooky
Soap and body wash made my skin dry and necessitated slathers of lotions and potions to put the moisture back in. These lotions and potions didn’t make me feel good because they are filled with all sorts of added ingredients that I deemed unnecessary or unhealthy to put on my skin.
But are they?
Let’s think about this.
You probably know that aloe and vitamin E are helpful ingredients for healthy-looking skin, but what about isopropyl myristate, PEG-100 stearate, and dihydroxypropyltrimonium chloride?
I took organic chemistry in college, so long chemical names don’t scare me. And I also know that chemicals added to body washes and lotions are actually commonly found in nature-made substances.
A simple example is ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C. Vitamin C is common in fruits and veggies. We have no problem eating fruits and veggies with vitamin C because we know vitamin C is good for us. However, if we see ascorbic acid on the back of our anti-aging serum bottle, we might wonder whether that substance is “bad” or “good” for us.
The question then becomes, “If ingredients found in man-made products can also be found in nature-made substances, does it really matter whether the ingredients are developed by scientists in a lab or by Mother Earth?”
This really troubles me.
See, I’m a Pisces. It’s in my nature to harbor on-going internal struggles, arguing all sides, never really convincing myself that anything is definitively “bad’ or “good” or “right” or “wrong.” It’s a blessing and a curse.
During my stubborn no-soap phase, I kept asking myself, “Am I being dumb? Does using nature-made substances really provide more benefits than man-made substances? After all, aren’t all ingredients present on this earth ‘natural’? So, why is it such a big deal for humans to take ingredients that may or may not be found in combination in nature and create an entirely new substance aimed at improving appearance and health? What is the real issue here?”
I started wondering why we get so one-sided about “all-natural” products and “science-based” products and how that divides our society.
Why are “nature” and “science” considered opposites?
Do You, Nature, Take Science To Be Your Lawfully Wedded Spouse?
One of the conclusions I reached is this: science isn’t all bad and nature isn’t all good. The reason humans can live longer, look younger, and stay healthier than in the past is due to the marriage of science and nature.
Thus, my dirty hippie phase ended.
Not because I was smelly or gross, but because I realized that I was unwilling to completely sacrifice my appearance for the sake of being “all-natural” (or whatever that means).
As mentioned earlier, my skin dramatically improved when ditching the soap and lotion. So, I still use coconut oil and grapeseed oil all over my skin, including my face, instead of lotion products.
But since I missed the previous quality of my hair, I decided to make my own shampoo as a compromise.
I looked up a few recipes and found one that suited me:
1/3 cup castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s is the most popular on the market)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp coconut oil
10-20 drops of essential oil (such as lavender)
Castile soap is made from olive oil and can be used for just about anything. Dr. Bronner’s has unscented castile liquid soap as well as soap with essential oils like lavender, peppermint, and almond already included.
Making castile soap is a pretty involved process. Just search “homemade castile soap” and you’ll see what I mean. Thus, I’m letting the mass producers do the work for me – a tradeoff, but one I don’t feel too bad about.
The shampoo works okay. It cleans my hair, but doesn’t make it look super duper nice and bouncy. I’m still searching for an optimal solution.
However, the concoction is a great moisturizing body wash for whenever I feel a little icky or “filmy.” Since its oil-based, it doesn’t dry out my skin.
My Postulates On Personal Hygiene
The moral of this whole story about my personal hygiene is this:
– Everything present on this earth is “natural.”
– When humans develop ingredients, they do so with the elements that naturally occur on this earth.
– Humans are good at developing combinations of ingredients that are useful for personal hygiene and appearance.
– Personal hygiene is a both a personal health priority and public health priority.
– Personal and public heath impact the health of our environment.
– It is important to use an optimal combination of human developed products and nature-made substances to manage good personal, public, and environmental health.
What is the optimal combination of human developed products and nature-made substances that minimizes overall waste? I’m still working that out…stay tuned.
Do you consider science-made substances and nature-made substances polar opposites? If so why?
I am curious about why we have such a strong divide between the two when we should really embrace the marriage (in my opinion). Please share your thoughts!