water-only washing

welcome back to SKIN WEEK! day TWO! & yep, you read that title correctly. i’ve ditched my castile soap body wash. i’ve gone more hippie than i ever thought i’d go!

*cue confusion*

water-only washing (don't be scared!)

first, let’s get one thing straight – I STILL SHOWER! okay. let’s go-

why switch to water-only washing? or at least try?

skin’s ph is normally acidic, ranging in ph values of 4–6, while the body’s internal environment maintains a near-neutral ph (7–9). this creates a steep ph gradient of 2–3 units between the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin, consisting of dead or peeling cells) and underlying epidermis and dermis. the physiologic role of an acidic skin surface is to be a defense mechanism against invading organisms. it has been demonstrated that several key enzymes involved in the synthesis and maintenance of a competent skin barrier are largely impacted by ph. soap cleansers are typically alkaline in nature (ph 10), and have a higher potential to irritate skin (source). [and since we’ll be getting into acne-based subjects later in the week, note this for future reference – acne flourishes well at ph values between 6 and 6.5, and is drastically reduced at ph values less than 6. what does that mean? do. not. use. soap. on. your. face.   OCM, anyone?!] the stratum corneum makes up a very thin, slightly acidic film called the “acid mantle” that is secreted from the skin’s sebaceous (oil) glands.  this is the barrier that prevents unwanted materials (bacteria, viruses, contaminants) from entering, and excessive loss of water from exiting the body. when we wash with soap, the acid mantle is stripped away, leaving the skin and body vulnerable (source). 

*i do NOT have issues with organic soaps. i actually have a slight obsession with buying them that i’m trying to curb…. as in, i currently have 7 bottles of dr bronners liquid castile soaps sitting in my room because those are the ones that haven’t even been used yet. i keep finding them on sale! seriously

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what to do instead:

water-only washing! i already water-only wash my face on the days between the OCM method, so going soap-free for my body wasn’t a big deal to me personally. i knew i’d be okay.

so how do i do it?

  • pull my hair up (i do NOT get it wet in the hot water. heat damage is heat damage. doesn’t matter if it’s water or a blow dryer)
  • run a pretty warm/hot-ish shower
  • let the water run all over my body for a couple minutes (feels so relaxing!). i honestly just spin around very slowly.
  • grab my washcloth, wet it, and scrub, scrub every inch of my skin!
  • spin around again in the  water
  • turn the water to “cool” and rinse off my body, helping to close my pores

…and that’s my shower! very uneventful. & i only wash my hair every 2ish weeks now, so showers are very short and i save lots of water! woohoo!

i think mixing water and some EOs of your choice would be great, too! you’d get the benefits of water washing, with the smell-goods of the EOs. sounds like a WIN in my book!

your skin (as with no-‘poo & the OCM) will need time to normalize and learn to take care of itself.

also, you HAVE to eat properly and get enough water. that drastically impacts your smell. i can tell from my armpits when i’ve strayed from my organic foods or ate a lot of red meat. sorry if that’s tmi. welcome to my blog! haha.

how it’s been so far:

honestly, pinky promise- pretty well!! i don’t stink to high heaven or anything (which i’m sure would be the #1 question if i didn’t explicitly state it, haha).

but, my upper back broke out at first. i’m not sure if that’s because washing up there without a back brush thing is pretty darn difficult to scrub, or what. but with dry brushing and using apple cider vinegar (posting on both for SkinWeek; don’t worry), it’s okay now. i’d say it took about a week and a half for it to get its stuff together. but to me, it was worth it to be able to be even more crunchy than i ever though i’d be!

no, i don’t water-only shave. or dry shave. but i will let you in on my shaving things tomorrow!

i know water-only washing isn’t even remotely an option for some. my matt is a mechanic and there’s no way in the boohockey he could do this. he comes home covered in car grease. but oh, i love a hard workin’ man… 😉 we’ll be talkin about soaps later today!

ok. let’s talk armpits & private parts…SKIP THIS SECTION if it’s TMI!


you may totally skip this part, but i know some people are probably wondering how the heck it’s all staying clean and not smelly. i for one scoured for other people’s experiences with these bits and going soap-free. i’m going to assume that if i was worried about it, chances are i’m not the only one. so here goes the TMI section of this post-
i already make my own deodorant, and found i smell AND sweat WAY less than i used to. i give my armpits a twice-over with the washcloth to clean them, and they’ve been okay! promise! if i miss showering one day, i’m not terribly stinky, even in this heat & humidity. okay…. about private parts… i was raised to keep that stuff private. so naturally i’ll tell you about it (if you’re a coworker/family member/etc, stop reading NOW. i order you! haha). i was terrified of how water-only washing was gonna go. absolutely terrified. i alternated every other wash between my castile soap mix and water only, doing that about 3-4 times each before i abandoned soap altogether… and it honestly hasn’t been terrible in the slightest. as every female should know, soaps shouldn’t be down there in the first place (guilty as charged). it’s way too delicate of a place to be stripped down with soaps. i was really paranoid everyone around me would know i’m not using body wash in general, and this one area only magnified my paranoia. but honestly ladies (& guys, too i guess!), it’s fine. everything’s fine and dandy! partner approved! haha. oh goodness. please don’t unfollow my blog now, haha! i did warn you… so Your fault!

TMI OVER! it’s safe to read now…

besides you awesome readers, those that know me personally know my hippie ways all too well. at first some were horrified/disgusted, and others were really genuinely intrigued. either way, by embarking on my crunchy lifestyle, i’ve found that i don’t care what anyone else thinks because i’m doing this for ME and MY health. right? 🙂 they can keep their sulfates & parabens. i’ll keep my water & coconut oil!

generally speaking though, if anyone knocks your crunchy lifestyle, don’t worry. those close-minded people are the ones that have ZERO idea of what they’re really putting on their skin, in their bodies, and the REAL dangers of it all.

anyone out there who’s ditched soap? or tried it for a bit? or even interested? haha. what do you think??


90 thoughts on “water-only washing

  1. I have been water only bathing for a couple of years now and have been experimenting with improvements ever since the beginning. My very best tip is to dry off with a well wrung out micro fiber wash cloth, wringing it out several times in the process. The reason is, it very gently exfoliates, removing loose skin that if left would aid and feed the odor making process of bacteria both good and bad. Prove the effectiveness by hot washing (water only) your wash cloth in the sink directly after showering and notice what is left floating in the sink afterwards. Happy scrubbing!

  2. I recently started water washing just for my vagina and the change is amazing! I always had a little bit of an odor down there, but now it’s completely gone! I love coconut oil too. I love this blog as well! Going to water wash my privates from now on. Sorry for the TMI Haha. Thanks so much and have a wonderful day!

  3. I have only ever used soap or cleanser on my hands, hair, face, underarms, and bottom (rear, not “privates”). Otherwise, unless I could see dirt, warm running water and a washcloth have been sufficient. My skin has always been soft and clear. I did this with all of my babies as well (soap only on the diaper area) and their skin was lovely, no lotions or creams needed.

    This winter my face has been so dry that I decided to stop using soap there as well. I still need a few drops of argan oil but water only has been fine. I also stopped using soap under my arms which sounds nuts even to me, but I actually think I smell better! Each night I wipe my underarms with a warm washcloth, shave with some shea butter, and the wipe once more with the wash cloth. In the morning I apply a little Schmidt’s fragrance free deodorant. With this method I can go several days without showering, which was definitely not a possibility when I was washing with soap or cleanser.

    I am still using soap once a week on my hair and am working on cutting that out. I just ordered a wood bristle brush which is supposed to help to distribute your natural oils.

    I won’t ever stop using soap to wash my hands or my rear end, but water only seems to be great for everything else 🙂

  4. Water showering is definitely best, it is much better for your skin. Also most people have the shower far too hot, you only need it warm, anyone spending more than five minutes in the shower is wasting time, water, money and damaging their skin as well as the environment. I can be in and out of the shower in under five minutes and that is when I lather up, days when I use water only it is even quicker. Water is the best cleansing agent, unless you are doing something really grubby you shouldn’t need detergent.
    It is the same with laundry 90% of everything going through your washing machine actually only needs water and agitation, it is the water and the cleansing action that gets things clean. Your skin works on the same principle, you only need water to clean it, a quick daily off is fine.

  5. Ever since I’ve noticed the amount of chemicals in our products I’ve decided to go water only. But since I’ve only been doing this for a month and lately my skin has been very dry. So some days I use cocoa butter skin cream by queen helene or coconut oil and still…it’s just super dry. I don’t know what to do 😥

    1. Hey ashley! So sorry for the late reply! Would you be up for trying to use plain aloe on your skin as a moisturizer? It’s runny, but very moisturizing. Also, try using lighter oil, like jojoba, right after you get out of the shower 🙂 I’m not sure what your diet is like, but an upgauge of healthy oils and fats in your diet might help, as well as more water. I hope this gives you some ideas!

    2. Hey Ashley – I am prone to being dry and this winter has been especially rough on my skin. I have been driven towards being totally cleanser free (hence me checking out this post) and it is working but additional moisturizing is necessary. Although I love coconut oil as a cooking fat/dietary supplement it just doesn’t work on my skin at all. If you web search “how to choose the best oil for face” or something like that you will find plenty of articles and blog posts about which oils are best for which kinds of skin. I personally love argan oil and sometimes some shea butter (I get mine from Shea Terra Organics, if you get on their mailing list they give out a discount code each month which helps with the cost, and I find a little goes a long way).

      Also I totally agree that diet is so important. I drink up to a gallon of water a day, avoid diuretics like caffeine and alcohol, and eat plenty of good fats. If I haven’t cooked with them I eat a spoonful of ghee and coconut oil before bedtime, and I either take a spoonful of fish oil or eat a serving of fish each day. Also avocados and nuts 🙂 Oh, and I pretty much never eat sugar. No matter what else I do, if I eat any white sugar or corn syrup I will get blemishes and blackheads. It is a little bit depressing to not eat sweets but it gets easier as I go along and honestly it is so nice to finally have clear skin that I am ok with it (occasional fresh fruit, pure maple syrup and honey seem to be ok but I just don’t bother as the cravings are less the more I avoid).


  6. Yep! I don’t use soap, either. I wash EVERYTHING (except sometimes hair) with nothing except water. After I shower, I use a cotton ball to apply some diluted ACV to my armpits (or I rub a lime wedge on them) and let dry before applying my homemade tea tree detox deo. The ACV or lime helps with smells. I am a nurse, so I sweat A LOT at work but I don’t stink at all! It did take a while for my body to adjust to not using commercial deodorant, but once I started using the acid and stopped using soap, it adjusted much quicker and now I smell just fine. I actually love it!

  7. Hi! I’m new to your blog (got directed here via Michelle Phan’s blogpost about no-soap showers) and I’m very interested about showering soap-free, but how do you wash your hair only once every two weeks?!?! Do you just use dry shampoo? Or what? My hair gets greasy within a day or two. I use dry shampoo once in a while, but it makes my hair feel dry and dingy so I really hate it. Plus I have curly hair, and idk if you know what happens to curly hair when you comb it — it becomes really frizzy and gross. So overall I try not to comb my hair. But if I don’t wash my hair for a day or two and don’t comb it before I put dry shampoo in, it gets all gross and coarse and like dry and sticky.

    I can understand how you can wash your body without soap, but how do you wash your face with just water? I don’t think my face is that oily (actually, probably considered dry) but there’s still oil and grease accumulated after a whole day and I can’t wash that off with just water! How do you manage?

  8. I use a souped up homemade castile-oatmeal-herb-aloe-etc blend for body wash, shampoo, conditioner and shave suds (and i dont need to treat my shaved parts after the shower…i never get bumps anymore)…but (shhh…) i only shower about twice a week. I water wash daily(with a cloth) the areas with stress sweat glands and in the winter, i only bathe twice a week (unless i temp at the restaurant, then it is a thorough shower beforehand, just in case). I do aromatherapy steams 4-5 days a week and oil myself as part of that. I am amazed by how much my skin and hair have improved, body hair growth slowed, and body scent very minimal…just the light scent of my EOs. Honeztly, i only shampoo when i use too much product, want a new hairstyle, or my hair gets dirty, but regular oiling and brusjing keeps it soft and clean. Lol, long story…but the point is, yes, people, it works. Natural smells fine for those who dont really get sweaty dirty!

  9. I water wash only…2 warm showers a day…hair…head body. Took 6 months for greasy skin to normalise…..to what it had been prior to my obsession with ‘soap cleanliness’. I don’t have any B.O. problems. I do use deoderant on my armpits…but just a tiny tiny squirt. For oral hygiene I floss daily and brush with bicarb.

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