a blog by J.M. Cottle
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An experiment in the shower

As I mentioned in my deodorant post, I like to find alternatives to convention — they are usually cheaper and more effective, and when people hear things like “I don’t use deodorant” or “I don’t date” it usually sparks a good conversation. So, when I see an opportunity to add something newer and weirder to my life, I will often take it.

My hygiene regimen is weird

You already know that I don’t use deodorant in the normal way, but here are a few other unusual cleanliness-related things that I do.

  • To save water and electricity, I’ve stopped flushing the toilet unless it’s necessary. It’s necessary when it’s going to smell bad, when there is getting to be too much toilet paper in the bowl (my lovely sister has joined me on this, so occasionally we get to this point) or when I’m in someone else’s house or in public. Someday soon, I am going to start using toilet cloths instead of toilet paper, and this will eliminate the second reason.
  • I take the coldest shower I can stand. I live in an area where water is not exactly in short supply, so I don’t stress out about how long my shower lasts, but I do try to keep the temperature low so that I don’t waste the electricity needed to heat it. This also helps my skin, which is easily dried out by hot water.
  • I no longer use toothpaste. I probably take a longer time brushing my teeth than most people do, and that’s because I am carefully, physically cleaning them with my brush, not depending on toothpaste. The last time I went to the dentist, my hygienist told me, “If everyone did as good a job brushing their teeth as you do, we’d go out of business.” So I am not concerned.
  • I use a flosser instead of regular string floss. A flosser head lasts me about three months before the little piece of floss breaks, which happens to be how often dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush. This uses a lot less plastic than ripping off a new foot-long piece of floss every single day, and it saves my thumbs from having their circulation cut off. I do hope that some company like Preserve will make a recycled/recycleable flosser.
  • I am transitioning to washing my hair with only water. Shampoo is a detergent, which is much too harsh for hair, and that’s why the companies have you use conditioner to restore the balance. Shampoo is especially terrible for people with dry, curly hair, like me. There is a transition period where you can end up with oily hair for a couple of weeks, but I am avoiding it by using a tiny bit of shampoo once a week and gradually lengthening the time in between uses. If you want to learn more about water-only washing, check out the Longhair Community. I learned a lot from them when my hair was down to my waist.
  • I use a Lunette. (Warning: please don’t click on this link if menstruation makes you uncomfortable! It can be a triggery thing. I completely understand.)
  • I don’t shave anything. To be honest, I’m scared of razors (it’s a phobia of needles and other sharp objects) and whenever I used to shave under my arms it would just end up getting itchy after a couple of days. I’ve never shaved my legs. If I could grow a beard, I would probably look like a mountain man right now.
  • I only use soap in “certain places.” Inspired by this article about aging gracefully like a French woman, I stopped using soap on my whole body and started using it only where it was necessary. I didn’t take the article’s other tips about filling my medicine cabinet with creams and lotions, but cutting down on the soap has kept my skin from getting dry, even through the winter.

Okay, that’s pretty weird, but can it get weirder?

I hope so!

Yesterday I was reading Niall Doherty’s blog, and I came across his post about going without soap or shampoo. It all made sense, especially the shampoo part since I’ve been doing it myself. I thought it was cool that since Niall had a shaved head at the beginning, he didn’t experience a transition period. One thing he said jumped out at me: “Let me be clear though: I continue to use deodorant every day.”

I started to wonder what would happen if I stopped using soap as well as deodorant. So far I have been relying on my daily shower to be certain that I don’t smell bad, but what if the daily shower was only water? Don’t you have to get rid of the smell-inducing bacteria somehow?

Only way to find out is to try it, so this morning I washed with only water and didn’t put on any deodorant. Let’s see what happens. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited. Experiments are fun!

Don’t worry, though. If I start to smell bad and I’m going to be around people, I’ll put on some deodorant. No need to avoid me or anything.

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