Alright, it’s about to get all crazy up in here. Today I’m going to talk about my awesome, super fancy skin and hair maintenance routines and the logic behind them.
Problems that I sought to fix: dry, itchy scalp; psoriasis; oil imbalance
A few years ago I wanted to end my struggle with dry scalp and psoriasis. I had read about this thing going around called the “no poo” method and decided to give it a try. I did the baking soda scalp scrub and apple cider vinegar rinse, and it was okay. Once I cut the baking soda scrub out it was a little better. But I always had this problem: my natural oils would build up at the base of my scalp. Not bad or anything, but it was annoying. Combing my hair could be difficult some days.
In the meantime I had Karissa and it became more convenient to go back to using a natural shampoo and conditioner instead of mixing my vinegar and herb mix, and my scalp went back to being itchier. I sucked it up–after all, I’ve dealt with it for my entire life, no biggie.
But then two things happened. First, I had Madilyn; second, Karissa had the same terrible, crusty, scaly scalp that her mommy has. It’s funny how your children can get you to do for them what you aren’t willing to do for yourself, isn’t it?
I began thinking about it and reading about it. You know, it turns out that we did not evolve scrubbing our hair vigorously underneath cascading waterfalls every day. Not even a few times a week. Heck, I would reckon that early humans didn’t even bathe in water much at all. Shampooing strips hair of the natural oils that your scalp is producing. The more you wash your hair, the more your scalp is convinced that something isn’t right and tries to correct the problem. Our bodies are very intelligent, they try to fix problems for us even when we don’t realize it.
We went back to a mostly auto-immune paleo diet to try and eliminate anything that might be causing inflammation, and then I did something crazy. I went cold turkey on my hair–nothing touched it except for water. No vinegar, no baking soda, no magical hippie formula. I knew that the transition phase would be rough, and my hair would feel gross for a week or two and hard to comb, but it’s just part of restoring balance. Lo and behold, much to my surprise, after just two weeks I woke up one morning and my hair felt soft, easy to comb, manageable, and not at all oily. Not even a little. Holy cow.
It’s crazy what your body can do if you let it. I don’t put any kinds of crap in my hair, except for the occasional coconut oil if I feel inclined to get really fancy.
Problems that I sought to fix: keratosis pilaris (chicken skin), dry skin
Following my experiences with my hair, I unwittingly embarked upon a unique skin-based adventure.
One afternoon I was lazily watching a nature show on Netflix. Some hippos were covering themselves in mud and then walking around, something like that. And suddenly, looking at that, I had some small kind of epiphany.
My silly brain went, “WTF I don’t need to use soap! We probably didn’t bathe regularly in the wild! My hair doesn’t need shampoo, why on earth would my skin need soap?!” And I thought about the myriad of animals that roll in dust or cover themselves in mud as cleaning or cooling methods. Guess what? We are animals too.
I got super excited thinking about this and decided to look on the wonder ol’ worldwide web for people talking about rejecting soap use and their experiences, and it turned out that a lot of people had already thought of this too, and had great experiences rejecting the idea that you need soap to live. People reported lifelong skin conditions clearing up, reduced body odor, and healthier looking, more vibrant skin. Makes sense–have you ever seen some of the garbage that they put in soap? It’s absolutely cringe worthy. Your skin is your largest body organ, and like your gut, has a natural optimal bacterial balance. When you eat bad quality foods your gut flora become imbalanced and overall health suffers. When you wash your natural bacteria off of skin it allows harmful bacteria to flourish in place of beneficial bacteria.
So I took to it the only way I know how, hard and fast. Hop in shower, stand in water for 5-15 minutes, hop back out. Rinse (ha) and repeat day after day. After about a week I noticed a spot where a pimple had been trying to form had gone away, my skin was smoother and less itchy, and my keratosis pilaris was improving a little. Awesome!
I’ve also added dry brushing my skin to the routine this week to see if it will help resolve the remainder of the bumps that I have on my arms and help me feel better at all. It’s been 3 days and so far my arms are already noticeably softer and I’m feeling good, but I do think that having the ritual is helping me a lot too.
So if I need to remove makeup I return to my ever-trusted coconut oil and cotton pads. Moisturize? Coconut oil. Deodorant? Coconut oil. No, just kidding–I’ve been using a coconut oil based all natural brand, though (that is, if I even remember to put it on. Forgetting it isn’t a big deal since I don’t stink.)
Yes, I am seriously advocating ditching soap and shampoo. You only need soap when you’re dirty. If you’re handing raw meat, in the hospital, covered in grime or sick then yes, absolutely wash your hands with soap, but otherwise? It’s totally unnecessary.