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Biotech Technology Science

Four Weeks Without Soap Or Shampoo 250

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-as-frankie-calls-it,-february dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A biotech start-up from Massachusetts has an unusual product: a bottle full of bacteria you're supposed to spray onto your face. The bacteria is Nitrosomonas eutropha, and it's generally harmless. Its main use is that it oxidizes ammonia, and the start-up's researchers suspect it used to commonly live on human skin before we began washing it away with soaps and other cleaners. Such bacteria are an area of heavy research in biology right now. Scientists know that the gut microbiome is important to proper digestion, and they're trying to figure out if an external microbiome can be similarly beneficial to skin. A journalist for the NY Times volunteered to test the product, which involved four straight weeks of no showers, no soap, no shampoo, and no deodorant. The sprayed-on bacteria quickly colonized her skin, along with other known types of bacteria — and hundreds of unknown (but apparently harmless) strains. She reported improvements to her skin and complexion, and described how the bacteria worked to curtail (but not eliminate) the body odor caused by not washing. At the end of the experiment, all of the N. eutropha vanished within three showers."
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Four Weeks Without Soap Or Shampoo

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  • So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PuddleBoy (544111) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:39AM (#47073779)

    I suspect there are slashdot readers who, uh, know someone who takes long spells between showers...

  • Derp (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:41AM (#47073791)

    Most people have known this for some time. I haven't washed my face in years. It was the only thing that stopped acne. By "not wash", I mean don't use soap or cleaners. Obviously, some shampoo trickles down on it and I rinse with water each day.

    Hair can be handled the same way if you have naturally dry or frizzy hair.

    Captcha: untidy

  • More than this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by koan (80826) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:42AM (#47073803)

    Scientists know that the gut microbiome is important to proper digestion

    Gut bacteria is more than proper digestion, it's a second mind.
    It's interesting as well that one of the most important parts of a cell are the mitochondria, which by all rights are their own separate critter that set up a successful house in just about everything alive.

    What a menagerie.

  • Poor example (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:42AM (#47073807)

    A 4 week test on something related to skin and they used a female journalist? Could by chance her skin complexion improved because of her menstrual cycle? There's about a 75% chance that she wasn't coming off of her period right before application so of course she probably noticed improvements to her skin, especially her face, over a 4 week test.

  • not so bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:57AM (#47073929) Homepage

    I've gone 10 days without washing (other than water), on a wilderness backpacking trip. Despite the fact that I was sweating a lot every day, at the end of the expedition I didn't feel as "dirty" as I would've expected. I think we could find a happy medium between our modern antibacterial-soap fetish and ye olde annual bath.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:02AM (#47073963) Homepage Journal

    At first I was stinky and greasy. Later I was just greasy. But hey, I've got greasy skin. So I went back to product, because I didn't want to be greasy. But I have hippie shampoo and soap, no patchouli involved — unscented shampoo, and peppermint soap. No deodorant, I smell at least as good now as I did when I used it in conjunction with a bunch of toxic crap.

  • Re:Bathe for health (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:07AM (#47074015)

    The idea here is probiotics, good bacteria outbreed and exclude the pathogens... The article even states that the byproducts of the ammonia processing by these bacteria produced nirites and nitric acid which inhibited staph growth, they even noticed reduced healing times for mice.

  • by AbrasiveCat (999190) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:08AM (#47074019)

    The problem there isn't the lack of showers but the repeated use of clothing.

    But then you have CEO of Levi Strauss saying don't wash your jeans. http://www.latimes.com/fashion... [latimes.com] I guess its back to nature time. I hope the windows open for a fresh breeze...

  • Re:PH (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:12AM (#47074047)

    Baking soda is a base, and as such converts oils into soaps on contact - my first guess would be that it's converting some of the more aromatic oils on your skin. I've heard of it used to clear up enlarged pores as well - the combination of mild abrasion and high PH do a number on the sebum (waxy oils) that otherwise build up in your pores. PH cold definitely also have an effect on your surface microbes though.

  • Re:Bathe for health (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:22AM (#47074127)

    That's the theory, but it's a theory established back when we thought all microbes were bad, or at best harmless. Now they're re-evalutating the theory to see if perhaps it's not actually counterproductive.

    The thing is those pathogens are going to get on your skin again almost immediately after washing anyway (think of everything you touch both before and after bathing), and if you've washed away the beneficial bacteria then the more virulent ones can recolonize your skin virtually unopposed. Meanwhile all your traditional symbiotes have been washed away, so you're not getting their benefits either. Could be a recipe to make people considerably more vulnerable to infection than otherwise.

  • Re:not so bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23, 2014 @10:30AM (#47074191)

    I went 2 months without showering, when I was working in the Arctic, living in a tent, etc. A snow shower at -40c didn't seem appealing.

    Then my flight out was delayed by weather. I lost the shower day I was going to have between flights.

    So took the bush plane out the next day and ran for my next flight. New sweat to freshen up 2 months of stench. After take off, everyone moved to the front of the plane and the flight attendant discreetly sprayed the entire now-empty-except-for-me rear cabin with air freshener.

    Suprisingly, I felt no embarrassment.

  • Re:Derp (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Friday May 23, 2014 @11:04AM (#47074393) Journal

    For me, cutting back on sugar was the breakthrough. No more soft drinks or sugar candies. Altoids, Starburst, and Skittles are 99% sugar with a little flavoring. I still like all those junk foods, but I stay away. Tried dried and sugared mangoes, but still too much. Don't eat anything that's more than 1/3 sugar, and seldom eat things that are between 1/4 and 1/3 sugar. That includes quite a few brands and varieties of supposedly healthy granola bars. Some of those granola bars are worse than candy bars.

    My acne is far better. Entirely gone for days at a time, and when a pimple does show it's because I backslid a bit and had something sweet, usually a shake or some ice cream, and that always at the urgings of family. I would not have any if I wasn't being so polite and social. Why others just have to press junk food on me is a bit of a mystery. It's like they subconsciously or perhaps consciously hope to make me fat like them.

  • Re:Derp (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sudon't (580652) on Friday May 23, 2014 @03:12PM (#47077461)

    Another alternative for hair is just to condition, not shampoo.

    The introduction of conditioner is what allowed the practice of daily shampooing to become common. I can still remember the Clairol Herbal Essence commercial jingle from the late sixties / early seventies:

    "You can wash your hair, now, every night, every night...",

    Myself, I stopped shampooing daily in the eighties. I rarely shampoo more than once per month, just rinse it with water during my daily shower. My (long) hair stays clean enough, looks healthy, and is easier to manage. If you're not using shampoo, you'll have no need of conditioner, (except when you do shampoo).

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