This article was published in the Silver City Daily Press/Independent in August 2015, the first in my new monthly series Thinking about Home-Making. (Isn’t that a quaint title!) I’m happy to return to regular writing about regular things!
A blissful, naked man or woman lifts an ecstatic face in a steamy shower while soap bubbles slide seductively down the body.
Soap is normal, good, and decent, right? Not necessarily.
Soap strips the skin of its natural oil, which helps protect us from bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold, yeast, and toxic chemicals in the air. There’s no good reason to remove this natural protection, and many reasons to leave it in place.
But that doesn’t mean we have to leave the dirt, sweat, other skin exudations, and dead skin cells on our bodies – not at all! The simple application of water and something to scrub with – a brush, a wash cloth, or a loofah – will do an excellent job at removing those while leaving the natural oil behind.
There’s a growing minority of people who’ve committed the cultural heresy of questioning the overuse of soap – and in the process healed skin conditions that seemed un-healable.
We might have shouted our discoveries to the world, but no. It’s a touchy thing, to talk about bathing, but let’s talk about it.
The most important thing in the shower is to remove dead skin cells, natural exudations, and dirt. Removing dead skin cells actually reduces wrinkles, and also removes critical habitat for bacteria and other microscopic life forms. Using friction instead of soap removes those invisible undesirables, while leaving our natural skin oil intact, which protects our skin and allows it to heal naturally.
Heretics have discovered that eliminating soap also eliminates the need for lotion to replace the natural oils they just sent down the drain. Armpits, scrubbed fresh of dead skin cells, suddenly have less odor. Even athlete’s foot conditions cleared up entirely when pumiced and left otherwise alone or helped with a mild herbal medicine.
More intimate areas? Try it and see. Water and a careful hand can get you squeaky-clean and naturally in balance and healthy. There’s really no need to strip our skin of its Goddess-given protection anywhere on our bodies! ‘Nuff said. (Except: I feel sorry for women and men with sometimes chronic infections, entirely unnecessary, with healing so simple, easy, and very money saving.)
If foregoing soap seems “too dirty,” imagine: soap stripping your skin, your pores exposed to germs in the air, cells invaded, skin’s pH changed, systems weakened, germs growing while skin tries to produce more protective oil, germs growing, excreting their stink. Or: natural oil protecting healthy skin, keeping those germs in balance.
Recently, I conversed with Barb Fila, who makes natural, organic artisan soaps in Silver City, who didn’t bat an eye when I began to tell my story. “I don’t use much soap either,” she told me, to my surprise.
Together we concluded: Use soap on hands as often as necessary, and sparingly or rarely other places. And buy organic soaps that feed the skin, not stress it. And buying from a local maker is even better, as the money stays in our community, and you trust the soap maker.
Finally, the fun stuff: Shall we buy peppermint soap? Oatmeal? Lavender? Or something else exotic, like chocolate-mint, or fig leaf? Some bars might attract us by their aroma or emotional associations, but many soaps serve specific needs.
For hand-washing, lavender has ancient history, as it’s mildly antibiotic, but not so heavy-duty as to encourage your household germs to mutate and become more virulent.
Tea tree oil (melaluca) soap is more seriously antibacterial, but one should avoid going heavy-duty, as frequent use may encourage germs to mutate, as evidence indicates the common industrial antibacterial soaps are doing these days – not to mention those chemicals disrupting our immune systems and adding toxins to our world.
Peppermint stimulates circulation for tired feet.
And our faces love the nourishment of oatmeal bars.
Now that I use less than 1/10th the soap I used to use, I not only feel better, but I estimate I’ve saved $7,500 on organic lotion these last three decades, and more on soap, medicines and doctor visits.
Today, it’s easy to live frugally and still enjoy the luxury of a quality bar of organic, exotic, natural, healing soap – used in moderation.
(Yes, there’s so much more to say on this subject, but I’m limited to 600 words.)