What Happens If You Stop Using Shampoo For A Year?

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This question was originally published on Quora. Answer by Warren Kramer.

I'll tell you a secret. I have not used soap for decades. No, I promise I don't smell bad.

Here's the thing. I once told a woman I was dating that I didn't use shampoo, I just took the same bar of soap I used to cleanse my body and used it on my head.

When she was finished gasping, she scolded me severely, grabbed my hand and marched me to a salon for the purchase of a "proper" shampoo. The problem is, she worked in the cosmetics industry, for a well-known maker of hair and skin products.

So at this elite salon, I was greeted by a display of items with odd names like:

  • Nictitating follicle gonkulator, or
  • Protruberating scalp defribulator, or
  • Scintillating coiffure demasticator

and I was like, "Which one just CLEANS MY HAIR?"

She clucked her tongue and chose one for me, to my immense relief, since not a single container could be bothered to label itself something simple, like "shampoo."

The problem is that I am rebellious. I refused to purchase both shampoo and soap, because I thought of this as a marketing gimmick, since both are essentially SOAP.

So, since she could not abide my use of (gasp) bar soap on the hair, I have ever since then used shampoo for both my hair and my body.

Years later, I had the frustratingly exhilarating experience of raising a teenage daughter. I took her to the store to acquire some of the products of which she was apparently being frightfully deprived. These included hair wash, face wash, hand wash, and body wash.

I said, "Are you sure you're not also out of third knuckle on your left pinky wash?" Talk about marketing gimmicks! In the years since I'd dated the cosmetologist (or whatever they call them now), things had escalated.

She was not amused, but I was still rebellious. However, since I was also a dad, I compromised and told her to pick two. She huffed and chose hair and body wash. She had to (gasp) use the actual hand soap the rest of the family used.

Now she is grown and I continue to use one bottle of shampoo for all my epidermal surfaces.

EDIT: Thank you to those who have expressed concern for my daughter’s deprived upbringing by not indulging her hair wash, face wash, hand wash, and body wash (talk about a first world problem). I can assure you all, she turned out great despite these hardships. She's grown now, works in the health care industry, and makes more money than I do. She can afford her own third knuckle on the left pinky wash ;-)

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