I don't ever use soaps, shampoos or conditioners on my hair (I clean my tresses with baking soda and vinegar), but to eliminate soap from my bathing routing completely seemed like a bit much.
However, I am also one of those unfortunate souls with incredibly sensitive skin, and for years I have battled breakouts of inflamed pores on my back, and sometimes on the back of my neck. To be clear, these were never breakouts of acne, simply painful inflamed pores that would become angry red bumps would eventually subside into smooth, dark blemishes that look rather unsightly against my normally pale skin. Changes in diet, sleeping patterns and types of clothes never seemed to get rid of the problem completely, and scars would take months and months to sometimes longer than a year to fade.
When I stopped using shampoos and conditioners, the situation on my back improved remarkably, but on occasion I would still suffer from these outbreaks that would cause me more distress. I changed bathing soaps to more organic, milder brands, eventually graduating to making my own soaps that I thought surely would solve the problem. Although I noticed a very slight improvement, I still battled painful inflamed pores on my back.
So a few weeks ago, I decided to give the method of not using soap AT ALL a try. I was a little concerned about not feeling completely clean after taking showers, but figured if that were the case or I experienced any adverse reactions I could very easily go back to using soap.
During my first shower without soap, I made sure to still scrub thoroughly with a loofah to slough away any dead skin. When I stepped out of the shower and toweled off, my skin felt surprisingly dry, more so than when I use soap (perhaps because there wasn't a layer of glycerin left on my skin?). However, it wasn't unpleasant. I still felt clean and smelled clean, my skin simply felt a bit drier and maybe even more refreshed and able to breathe.
Usually after stepping out of the shower, any inflamed portions of my back usually become angry and red, but this was not the case after my first shower without using soap. Save for the existing wounds and scars, my skin looked normal and did not seem irritated at all.
After 1 Week
After my first full week of not using soap in the shower, I was hooked. I did not experience any complaints from coworkers or friends that I smelled badly, and the condition of my skin actually improved. I experienced no new inflamed pores on my back, and this gave the existing wounds a chance to heal properly. I still had dark, flat scars left over from previous blemishes, but it didn't seem like the condition was being exacerbated. I also didn't experience any feeling of discomfort or breakouts of acne or rashes.
As for the rest of my body, I feel like my skin was better shape than when I regularly showered with soap. Any dry spots of on my elbows and knees or patches of eczema disappeared, and I actually felt like my skin was more moisturized than before, even if I didn't follow up with my regular routine of putting on whipped body butter or virgin coconut oil.
After 1 Month
I still did not experience any feeling of discomfort or complaints about smell. I felt that I smelled and felt just as clean as when I used soap to shower.
The condition of the inflammations on my back also improved markedly. Since I stopped using soap, I experienced zero instances of inflamed pores, and the dark scars from past breakouts have actually begun to fade more quickly, faster than when I continued to use soap. Perhaps it's just my imagination, but after years of battling this skin condition I do honestly notice a huge difference in how quickly my previous breakouts healed and how much faster the scars have lightened up. Perhaps without soap as an irritant my skin is able to heal uninterrupted and regenerate healthy skin to fade the scars faster.
I likely will never shower regularly with soap again. At most maybe only once a week or so. This seems to be the amount of soap exposure my skin can handle. Now I usually only use soap in the shower as a lubricant when I shave my legs.
Of course, I still use soap on a daily basis to thoroughly clean my hands after using the washroom and before I handle food. But as a part of my daily routine while showering, washing my hair or my face? Not anymore.
As a person who works in an office, a konjac loofah is more than enough to get clean at the end of the day, and sometimes I throw in a little baking soda to exfoliate, which works great. Hey, baking soda works as a shampoo for my hair, no reason to think why it wouldn't work on the rest of my body as well. As for my face, my olive oil makeup remover and honey face wash get the job done really well.
I would recommend anyone with sensitive skin to at least try eliminating soap from their bathing routine for a week to see if there's any improvement. You might be surprised and find you don't need to budget for soap quite as often as you currently are when you're buying groceries.