Rub-a-dub-don’t: why some people are turning their back on soap

There’s a growing argument that the way we wash could be doing more harm than good. But dare you abolish your ablutions? Here’s everything you need to know about the soap dodgers – and why they think you should listen to them.

Saying nope to soap…

A good scrub in the shower or bath is enshrined in our daily lives. And most of us use soap or a body wash to buff ourselves squeaky clean, clearing out all of the nooks and taking a fair shot at the crannies.

But some say that going soap free is one of the best decisions they’ve made. They believe that lathering up is harming our microbiome, which helps to protect the immune system and keep our skin – and our bodies – healthy.  

Salt Of The Earth Classic Crystal DeodorantWhere has this trend come from?

Some are intrigued, others are horrified. But the concept of going soap free is getting attention. For that you can thank James Hamblin: doctor, medical writer and lecturer at the Yale School of Public Health. He’s been soap free for five years – apart from using soap to wash his hands – and lays out his skin manifesto in his book Clean: The New Science of Skin and the Beauty of Doing Less.

Scrubbing away the good?

You may worry – quite fairly – that going soap free will result in one almighty human honk. But this isn’t some convoluted strategy to encourage social distancing. Going soap free isn’t the same as going wash free. The movement is simply about giving up soap in the shower, rather than giving up showering altogether. And there is some science to this.

Echt Kölnisch Wasser No.4711. Original Eau De CologneYour skin is so much more than your outer casing. It’s your body’s largest organ – and it’s colonised by a unique balance of millions of bacteria, fungi and viruses. (If your skin feels like it’s crawling, that might be because it literally is.) Just like the good bacteria in your digestive system, the microbiota of your skin plays an essential role in protecting you against harmful pathogens. So it’s best to take good care of it.

The soap dodgers believe that soaps and body washes – which are often jam packed with synthetic ingredients – may help you to wash away dirt, but they also wash away the beneficial pathogens and natural oils that are helping to keep your skin healthy and your body safe. The claim is that this can lead to damaged skin and a weakened immune system, while aggravating (or causing) conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.

Theraneem Naturals Neem Tooth And Gum PowderYou don’t have to give up soap. Some hygiene is better by nature.

If you are keen to join the soap dodgers, a softly, softly approach might be best. Going cold turkey on soap could lead to overly oily or excessively dry skin while your body adjusts. Hamblin suggests that cutting down gradually is the way to go.

Does giving up soap altogether feel a touch too extreme? Try some of our all-natural skincare and hygiene products – gentler on your skin and made with as few ingredients as possible. For hygiene that’s better by nature.

Here’s a few of our current favourites.