The phrase “less is more” is especially accurate for those who’ve stopped using soap to clean their bodies. Why? Because not only does the practice save them money on products, it’s gentler on their skin, and most importantly, according to experts, it can help balance the skin’s microbiome.
Just like the one in your gut, your skin has a microbiome that, if well-balanced, is rife with good bacteria and organisms known as microbes that protect the skin, stabilize its pH level, and more, according to Vogue. The chemicals found in soaps often over-strip the biome and in turn, deprive the skin of those benefits. “By taking out those chemicals [from soap] that are killing certain species, we’re able to promote that diversity again and get a really healthy microbiome that’s good for your skin,” Sarah Ballantyne, author of the blog The Paleo Mom told U.S. News. And the results, according to those who’ve made the switch, are pretty remarkable.
After ditching the suds, soap-strikers say their skin is more hydrated and they don't smell
“Practically, most of us shower more than we need to,” which often leaves the skin dry and irritated, Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a dermatologist in Boston told U.S. News. Although you think you’re removing “bad” oils when you lather up, your microbiome needs some of those to keep its barrier intact. That’s why those who don’t use soap find that their skin stays hydrated naturally.
More enticingly, after going through an admittedly uncomfortable, and yes, stinky transition, soap-strikers say they no longer experience body odor. “Our skin and scalp produce a lot more oil when we’re constantly washing that oil away,” Sarah Ballantyne explained. “Over time, my skin has adjusted. I don’t smell,” the author added in an interview with The Guardian. Most people like the Paleo Mom just rinse in the shower, focusing on areas that tend to get dirty. It’s important to note, though, that Ballantyne remains a firm believer in the importance of hand washing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sandy Skotnicki, a Toronto-based dermatologist told The Guardian that our societal increase in showers has changed the skin microbiome. “Has that caused a rise in inflammatory skin diseases? I think the answer is yes, but we don’t know,” she said. Overall, there’s still a need for more corroborated evidence to prove the full efficacy of nixing soap, but the trend is on the rise.
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