Showering. Are you doing it wrong?
Well, if you’re lathering your body up with soap from head to toe, you may be.
In this video, I’ll tell you why I don’t use soap…
Not much, that is.
Why don’t I use soap (much)?
Now, don’t get me wrong, cleanliness is next to godliness, right? It feels great to be CLEAN. And if you have little boys, oh please?! They can just look outside and they’re dirty.
However, I like to go easy on the soap. It’s really a more modern invention, particularly the ones you’ll find in your local drug store. Here are the four reasons I like to minimize my soap use.
Soap (at least most) contains bad ingredients
I remember using Camay soap when I was in high school. I loved the way it smelled! I also loved Vitabath (a bubble bath) because it smelled so fresh. Little did I know that these products are nasty. Most conventional soap products contain heavy fragrances, nasty parabens, dyes and other chemicals that don’t belong on our skin. These ingredients can cause endocrine disruption and even be carcinogenic. Also, our skin is our biggest detox organ so we don’t want to coat or clog it with artificial stuff.
While the soap may smell good, it’s not good for you. I always pack a travel soap as hotels have some of the stinkiest (and cheapest) soaps out there.
Soap can make your skin too dry or too oily
Soaps dry out our skins for two reasons. They have a different pH than our skin has (usually, it’s much higher) and soaping ourselves regularly stripes our skin of its natural and protective oil (called sebum).
Of course, body product companies love this. We use their soaps which dries out our skin and then we slather ourselves with their lotions to help restore the oil we washed off.
In fact, some skin irritations and even eczema can actually be caused from simply using too much soap! I learned this the hard way. I got into a nightly ritual of giving my newborn son a bath every night from 3-9 months old. I noticed he started to get a patch or two of dry skin and the doctor thought it might be eczema. I decided to stop bathing him so much and sure enough the patches healed.
If you have a child with sensitive or irritated skin, reduce the number of baths and soaps and see if it improves.
Interesting to note, some people’s skin reacts the opposite way and overproduces oil to compensate for all of the washing, cleaning and rinsing off of the natural oils.
Soaps can interfere with vitamin D absorption
We need the sun to create an absorbable form of vitamin D. The sun’s energy turns a chemical in your skin into vitamin D3, which is processed by your liver and kidneys to an active form of vitamin D.
Scientists found that the oil or sebum in your skin played a role in this vitamin D absorption. If we are soaping off this oil, we can potentially interfere with our vitamin D uptake. In fact, researchers found that it can take up to 48 hours for the skin to to convert the sun’s energy into vitamin D.
That’s why surfers, who were regularly in the water, had lower vitamin D levels (up to 20 points lower) than lifeguards at the same beach.
Now, I get it. I live in Florida. There are times you slather yourself in sunscreen and you need to wash it off. If that’s the case, be sure to get some natural sunlight at other times to boost your vitamin D levels.
Soaps can mess with a healthy microbiome
Believe it or not, our skin is part of our microbiome. It contains good bacteria that actually create natural antibiotics that fight off bad bacteria like MRSA. This is also why skin-to-skin contact is so important and beneficial with newborns who are inoculating their microbiome.
Just like we wouldn’t want to get colonics each day as this could wipe out our good gut flora, you also don’t want to scrub away all of the good bacteria on your skin.
Dr. Richard Gallo, chief of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego, says “It’s not just removing the lipids and oils on your skin that’s drying it out… It could be removing some of the good bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance of skin.”
And don’t even get me started on antibacterial soap! That stuff is so bad for you. First of all, it usually contains a nasty chemical called triclosan (0r another derivative called triclocarban). This chemical has been tied to allergies, dermatitis, thyroid impairment, reproductive and brain heath, and immune system issues. Yuck! In 2013, the FDA stated that it may need to ban this ingredient after looking at more data. They should make their decision in 2016.
It’s also better for the environment
Finally, using less soap (and bathing less) is better for the environment. Without all of the suds to lather on and wash off, your shower time is shorter and more efficient, which uses less water.
Additionally, all of these junky products out there can be hard on the planet. For example, triclosan, which is found in antibacterial products, is “highly toxic” to algae and affects some fish species reproduction.
Another harmful products are those “microbeads” found in body washes and toothpastes.
Those beads are made of tiny plastic bits (YUCK! Like we need more plastic in this universe!) that were winding up in lakes, rivers, and oceans. Because the beads are so small, they don’t get filtered out by drains and water treatment plants. These bits are made up of fat and so they are like sponges found in the water. Worse yet, little fish and marine life will often eat them because they look like fish eggs or small plankton.
And, those toothpaste beads? Some find their way into some people’s gums causing infection and irritation. No bueno!
Thankfully, Obama signed an act to ban these from the marketplace by 2017.
So what’s my solution, not bathing?
In fact, I bathe pretty frequently. And my husband showers every day.
But, we don’t go crazy with the soap.
Instead, I just use soap on my pits and my bits, if you know what I mean. The rest of my body I just rinse.
And, in terms of soap, I use a really simple one. It’s unscented and contains just 3 natural ingredients. (You can find it here.)
For little kids, I like these bubble baths (and limit them to once a week). In terms of soap for my kids, I just use the same soap that we use.
How about you?
How often do you shower? What kind of soap do you use? Do you notice a difference in your skin if shower more frequently? Share with us in the comments below!