Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Unsoap Experiment

By Diana Hsieh

Recently, Richard Nikoley reluctantly reported on his six-month experiment without soap or shampoo. It went fabulously well, such that he's now committed.

Like Richard, I hate to seem like a luddite or primitivist, but honestly, I do want to try "The Unsoap Experiment." Ever since I read about it a few months ago on another blog, I've been unsoap-curious and nopoo-intrigued!

Of course, the natural reaction is to say, "Oh, but my hair is gross after just a day or two, I couldn't possibly do that!" However, from what I've read elsewhere, the standard day-after greasiness is a side-effect of shampooing. The scalp produces way more oil than it would otherwise, precisely because you're stripping off all the oils by shampooing daily. So you get caught in a vicious cycle.

You can think of it as similar to the effects of carbohydrate-withdrawal. In the short-term, a person used to the standard American diet might feel tired and foggy unless he eats tons of carbohydrates. Contrary to popular myth, that's not a good reason to reject low-carbohydrate eating. Instead, that result suggests that the person is seriously addicted to carbohydrates, and that he ought to eat far less of them. It's just a vicious-cycle hump to be gotten over, nothing more.

Of course, that might not be true for all people, but that's why Richard recommends trying soapless for at least a month.

Originally, I'd planned to wait on my own "Unsoap Experiment" until I got my thyroid problems under better control. However, then I realized that I might as well start now, since I'm basically incapable of doing anything substantial with my days.

So my Unsoap Experiment is in progress, as of December 31st. I've started by switching to nopoo, as per these instructions. Basically, I wash my hair with a baking soda solution, then condition it with a cider vinegar solution. For now, I'm still using a bit of soap on the critical bits -- just a purely olive-oil-based bar from "Kiss My Face." Also, in an attempt to combat my unbearably dry skin, I've taken to just using pure coconut oil as lotion. So far, the results are encouraging, but I'll post a more detailed report in a few weeks.

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