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Charlotte:)
June 16th, 2010, 10:03 PM
Lately I have been reading a lot about the history of hair. During the Victorian times (for example) they used to only wash their hair once a week, and before then less often. Many people say we have greasy hair now days because we shampoo too often, but I have never been one to shampoo more than twice a week, and my hair still gets very greasy at the roots (even after applying baking powder). Now days greasy hair is unacceptable, but did it used to be? If not, how did people used to keep their hair from turning into a grease ball?

Katurday
June 16th, 2010, 10:15 PM
I imagine that a slew of up dos and powders (as well as wigs) were designed to hide grease. Perfumes were used to make the hair smell better. Shampoos definetly encourage oil production, and once a week is all thats necessary for many people. In a proper updo, the greasiest head can look sleek and shiny, but I imagine it was no big deal either way.

PineappleJello
June 16th, 2010, 10:41 PM
It would be a lot like people who wash only with water. The scalp would get use to producing only a little sebum or 'grease' so it wouldn't look near as bad as if you or I were to go 3 days without a shampoo.

BlueMuse
June 16th, 2010, 11:20 PM
Well, considering a bath once a year was the norm for the Middle Ages, I can't imagine that greasy hair wasn't normal, either that or wigs. I know that many of the fine ladies of the Elizabethan Era cropped their hair very short and wore wigs nearly exclusively. Elizabeth I was considered eccentric because she bathed once a month. I imagine there was a higher tolerance for body odor as well.

StarryNight
June 17th, 2010, 12:55 AM
" Baths seem to have been regarded principally as therapy. People suffering from irritability and general debility would benefit from a cold bath; ten to twenty minutes would be 'sufficient even for the strongest constitution' and it would prevent colds. A tepid bath 'was serviceable occasionally to persons of sedentary habits', but 'when mere cleaning is required' you might use soap. 'A vapour bath is common in this country. The patient is seated naked in a chair and a vessel full of boiling water is placed at his side. A large blanket is thrown over his body and head, together with the vessel of hot water'. Such were the instructions, but they seem to me dangerously inadequate. Thomas Carlyle contrived a cold shower for himself, in the kitchen, greatly inconveniencing the maid, whose bed space it was. ... In 1842 The Magazine of Domestic Economy deplored that in this water-dreading county ... washing the hands and face, cleaning the teeth, taking excessive care of the fingernails, and washing the feet not oftener than twice a month, constitute the generally received notion of cleanliness'."
- Victorian London - The Tale of a City 1840 - 1870 By Liza Picard

This was for the middle - upper class.

Sorry this is so long. It was just a really interesting excerpt I thought you would enjoy.

Aurantia
June 17th, 2010, 01:00 AM
This post made LOL. I would imagine that Gem and other WOs would have a chuckle too.

Read the WO thread. ;)

p.s. The answer is: when you allow your head to adjust to no shampoo, it's not greasy! Works for the body without soap, too.

jera
June 17th, 2010, 02:12 AM
In the Victorian era cleanliness was more challenging. Washing in ice cold water sucks. (Just ask anyone enduring a winter power outage in the North. :( )
I think cleanliness is expected of us now, because we have the facilities to accomplish it so easily with indoor bathrooms and hot running water 24/7. If you had to use an outhouse and haul well water or buckets from the creek, being clean might seem less important to you than it is under normal 21st century cirumstances. :)

Athena's Owl
June 17th, 2010, 02:35 AM
I have to laugh at the idea that washing hair only once a week hast to mean that the Victorians had greasy hair. I decided years ago that I would only wash my hair when it got greasy. I started out at washing my hair every 5 days, and this quickly became ten. I wash my hair now more because I want to detangle my hair, re-set my curls and wear my hair down than for needing to actually clean it.

the constant showering and water waste that people indulge in now is driven by advertising. you don't need to stand in a hot shower and use body wash and shampoo every day on every exposed inch of you. if you're active enough to get sweaty it's very nice to get a fast rinse, but you can clean your whole body and your hair fabulously well with a 2L jug of water and a good sized basin to catch the water for re-pouring.

Chestershire
June 17th, 2010, 05:31 AM
I don't even mind that much having greasy hair. Just put it up and you are good enough to go outside.

Anlbe
June 17th, 2010, 07:08 AM
If my hair's up you can't see whether it's greasy or not, and even if it's down it doesn't start to look at all greasy until day five/six. People used to add grease to their hair to keep it neat and in style in the form of scented pomades. Oil isn't dirty or unhygienic, and if you powder your hair that'll keep it pretty clean as well.
About bathing, not taking a bath or shower doesn't make one dirty. I used to spend quite alot of time in places without running water anywhere but the kitchen and I found I could stay completely clean using a washstand in my room. Bathing met going for a swim. In the summer I'd wash my hair with the garden hose (laid out in the sun to get lots of warm water), in the winter I went to the hairdressers in town.

Tiina
June 17th, 2010, 07:10 AM
Well, people here on LHC have achieved good results from water only and even sebum only (grooming) washes so I don't believe everyone was a greaseball before shampoo became common. Even in the early 20th century it was not the norm to wash your hair more than once a week (the birth of the "No, sorry, I have to wash my hair tonight," excuse :p ).

I believe at least the upper classes of society did maintain a good hygiene even if not by means that are standard today. It may have been different for the lower class who simply did not have the time, or the chambermaids, to properly groom themselves which could have contributed to the widespread diseases and epidemics. But that doesn't mean hygiene was completely abandoned by them.

LoveMyMutt
June 17th, 2010, 09:01 AM
I have to laugh at the idea that washing hair only once a week hast to mean that the Victorians had greasy hair. I decided years ago that I would only wash my hair when it got greasy. I started out at washing my hair every 5 days, and this quickly became ten. I wash my hair now more because I want to detangle my hair, re-set my curls and wear my hair down than for needing to actually clean it.

the constant showering and water waste that people indulge in now is driven by advertising. you don't need to stand in a hot shower and use body wash and shampoo every day on every exposed inch of you. if you're active enough to get sweaty it's very nice to get a fast rinse, but you can clean your whole body and your hair fabulously well with a 2L jug of water and a good sized basin to catch the water for re-pouring.

I agree. My mother has never washed her hair more than once a week, and it never looks greasy. My grandmother only washed hers once a month and once again, never greasy (she had long, pure white hair that she wore in a bun all the time).

I only had the greasy root look back when I used cones and sulfates. When I switched to CO washing, I found I could go at least a week and still not look greasy. I wash mine more often than that because it gets frizzy and poufy after 2-3 days, but it is more for styling than for cleanliness.

I shower daily if I've been exercising and sweating, but if I haven't gotten super sweaty I don't need to shower every day. When we go camping, we just swim in the river every evening and do a water wash on my hair and it's fine. We don't get smelly or anything. I don't use soap on most of my body anyway, just on armpits, feet & girly bits. If I use it anywhere else I get dry itchy skin.

I'm pretty much of the opinion that a lot of modern hygiene ideas are driven by advertising. I noticed when I switched from commercial antiperspirant to a homemade concoction of coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch and tea tree oil my stinky pit problem disappeared. I used to have to put antiperspirant on 2x a day or I would start offending myself; but now I can go without putting anything on and while I might get sweaty pits, they don't stink at all. I told my husband about it and he tried the same experiment -- now he NEVER gets stinky pits either. So I am guessing that something in the antiperspirant alters your skin chemistry and allows the odor-causing bacteria to flourish, which makes you use (and buy!) more antiperspirant...

Maybe life in the olden days was not as stinky as we have been lead to believe...

pelicano
June 17th, 2010, 09:08 AM
In the Victorian era cleanliness was more challenging. Washing in ice cold water sucks. (Just ask anyone enduring a winter power outage in the North. :( )
I think cleanliness is expected of us now, because we have the facilities to accomplish it so easily with indoor bathrooms and hot running water 24/7. If you had to use an outhouse and haul well water or buckets from the creek, being clean might seem less important to you than it is under normal 21st century cirumstances. :)

I agree with this. Given how hard it was to achieve, I think cleanliness just wasn't a priority to people so, in some ways, greasy hair was socially acceptable. Although, as people have said on here, their oil production would have been lower anyway, so their hair wouldn't necessarily have looked greasy, just not squeaky clean.

It always makes me laugh on The Tudors how clean everyone looks! :D

Thinthondiel
June 17th, 2010, 09:38 AM
Well, considering a bath once a year was the norm for the Middle Ages, I can't imagine that greasy hair wasn't normal, either that or wigs. I know that many of the fine ladies of the Elizabethan Era cropped their hair very short and wore wigs nearly exclusively. Elizabeth I was considered eccentric because she bathed once a month. I imagine there was a higher tolerance for body odor as well.

And during the Viking Age, the Vikings in Britain had a reputation of excessive cleanliness because they bathed once a week, wore clean clothes and groomed themselves (they combed their hair and washed their hands and faces every day, used ear spoons etc.)

Fractalsofhair
June 17th, 2010, 09:47 AM
Dreadlocks were common among the poor a couple hundred years ago. The upper and middle class would look similar to LHC members probably in terms of cleanliness, and city poor would also look similar, but among rural peasants, dreadlocks(or one big dreadlock) were not unheard of, simply due to lack of time for cleaning.(not so much in the US, but 1700s and earlier in Europe.) Many people did use combs, and things like that to help them stay clean, of course! We also have to remember many of the ancients didn't even use soap, such as the Romans, and they were pretty clean. Bathing daily isn't required for most, and most people with not over moisturized, well adjusted hair, won't have greasy looking hair for a while after a bath. Body odor was probably more acceptable, just because perfumes were used mainly by the wealthy, and even then, the deodorants today didn't exist, but people didn't reek. In the Middle Ages, changing the rushes was seen as a good thing to do, and people didn't really like the smell of rotting things, but they might have been more used to it. And of course, the Vikings were known for keeping clean, as were prostitutes and Middle Eastern traders(who had soap!), in a way that would probably be acceptable today. If we're talking about the Victorian era, we have photos of hair from then, and most of it looks pretty clean and shiny still, occasionally really dried out as well!

Annalouise
June 17th, 2010, 10:57 AM
This is an interesting thread. :)

About the greasiness though I have to disagree. I don't believe that oiliness is caused by shampoo, or that it is remedied by water only. I think some people have dry scalps and other people have naturally oily skin.

I didn't use anything but water for two months and my head was so oily it wasn't funny. I must have gained 5 pounds in oil. My Grandmothers scalp produces almost zero oil.

My guess is that oil production is related to the type of hair a person has. Its like the body makes the hair and the oil to go with it. I have very fine fragile hair and the oil protects it from breaking and tangling, so that is why it is good for me to leave it alone and not remove it too often. I think people with dry scalps have courser hair that doesn't need a lot of oil to protect it, or less oil.

Its just a theory, I could be wrong.

I think its genetic. i don't think anyone with an oily scalp should be fooled into thinking that water only will miraculously change their scalp or oil production. Or that shampoo will give them oily hair. Shampoo removes the oil, thats all it does, for better or worse.


:)Anna

teela1978
June 17th, 2010, 11:13 AM
This is an interesting thread. :)

About the greasiness though I have to disagree. I don't believe that oiliness is caused by shampoo, or that it is remedied by water only. I think some people have dry scalps and other people have naturally oily skin.

I didn't use anything but water for two months and my head was so oily it wasn't funny. I must have gained 5 pounds in oil. My Grandmothers scalp produces almost zero oil.

My guess is that oil production is related to the type of hair a person has. Its like the body makes the hair and the oil to go with it. I have very fine fragile hair and the oil protects it from breaking and tangling, so that is why it is good for me to leave it alone and not remove it too often. I think people with dry scalps have courser hair that doesn't need a lot of oil to protect it, or less oil.

Its just a theory, I could be wrong.

I think its genetic. i don't think anyone with an oily scalp should be fooled into thinking that water only will miraculously change their scalp or oil production. Or that shampoo will give them oily hair. Shampoo removes the oil, thats all it does, for better or worse.


:)Anna

I agree. I have very oily skin and a very oily scalp. Trying different alternative washing methods (WO, CO, baking soda washes, etc...)never left my scalp anything but oily. Because my skin tends to produce a lot of it.

I do think that there are some people who have skin that is aggravated by certain types of shampoo, and begins to produce an excess of oil in response, but the experience of a few doesn't equal a solution to the world. There are many on this site with less-oily skin than I have who wash weekly-ish with traditional shampoos. If shampoo caused scalps to produce lots of oil they would not be able to do that. I could try that... but my hair would look wet from the ears up by day 4 or so.

In the past women often covered their hair, wore wigs, wore elaborate styles full of powder, etc... I would imagine that those practices helped to hide/control excess oil production of those who had oilier skin.

spidermom
June 17th, 2010, 11:28 AM
I remember reading somewhere that at the turn into 1900, most people washed once a MONTH. It used to be a lot more trouble to wash hair than it is now (standing under the shower makes it so easy).

I'm sure there are exceptions, but I've also read that "train your hair to produce less oil by washing it less often" is a myth. They actually used sensors on the scalp to measure oil production per day, and it was the same every day no matter whether the hair was washed or not.

GRU
June 17th, 2010, 12:20 PM
In the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, baths were taken on Saturday night in order to be clean for church on Sunday morning. And that was mid-to-late 1800s in the USA.

They had to heat up the water, then they bathed in a washtub in the kitchen.

teela1978
June 17th, 2010, 01:06 PM
In the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, baths were taken on Saturday night in order to be clean for church on Sunday morning. And that was mid-to-late 1800s in the USA.

They had to heat up the water, then they bathed in a washtub in the kitchen.

lol. My mother and her sisters bathed weekly for most of their childhood on that same schedule, and that was during the 1950s in suburban southern California. With a full bathroom and a water heater :) I would be surprised if there weren't families that still stick with that schedule.

maybe sparrow
June 17th, 2010, 01:13 PM
I've seen a LOT of pictures from the 19th century, and some of them *are* pretty greasy, but it's not like they wore it loose.

Jammy
June 17th, 2010, 01:25 PM
If everyone had greasy hair then it would be the standard. You don't stare at people who have clean hair now because we all do.

Beatrice
June 17th, 2010, 04:41 PM
I remember reading somewhere that at the turn into 1900, most people washed once a MONTH. It used to be a lot more trouble to wash hair than it is now (standing under the shower makes it so easy).

I'm sure there are exceptions, but I've also read that "train your hair to produce less oil by washing it less often" is a myth. They actually used sensors on the scalp to measure oil production per day, and it was the same every day no matter whether the hair was washed or not.

Here, here. I've been washing every other day for months now, and my scalp has never become any less oily.

Wearing your hair up all the time, as most people used to do, makes all the difference in the world. For a while I thought I was producing less oil, just because my hair was always tied back. Plus my bangs were no longer touching my equally-oily forehead. :rolleyes:

And don't forget that soaps were usually harsher. If I wash with a harsh or volumizing shampoo, by hair doesn't look greasy as quickly.

nowxisxforever
June 17th, 2010, 04:47 PM
p.s. The answer is: when you allow your head to adjust to no shampoo, it's not greasy! Works for the body without soap, too.

Yep, this! :) :cheese:

nowxisxforever
June 17th, 2010, 04:49 PM
I have to laugh at the idea that washing hair only once a week hast to mean that the Victorians had greasy hair. I decided years ago that I would only wash my hair when it got greasy. I started out at washing my hair every 5 days, and this quickly became ten. I wash my hair now more because I want to detangle my hair, re-set my curls and wear my hair down than for needing to actually clean it.

the constant showering and water waste that people indulge in now is driven by advertising. you don't need to stand in a hot shower and use body wash and shampoo every day on every exposed inch of you. if you're active enough to get sweaty it's very nice to get a fast rinse, but you can clean your whole body and your hair fabulously well with a 2L jug of water and a good sized basin to catch the water for re-pouring.

Agreed. This excessive cleanliness is so unnecessary.

I will take a quick 2-3 minute dip in the shower (sans soap) if I feel greasy, or a 5-15 minute session to wash my hair, longer for shaving - but I only really get in the shower once every couple days at that, when I'm actually needing to rinse myself off.

x0h_bother
June 17th, 2010, 05:01 PM
And don't forget that soaps were usually harsher.
This would be my guess, a much harsher, basic soap to nicely dry out the hair :)

-simply Venus-
June 17th, 2010, 05:50 PM
Since they rarely shampooed their hair it never got greasy. My hair only STARTS to get greasy after a month of not washing, which is when I do a clarifying shampoo.

If you regularly shampoo, and then realize it's not good and lessen the amount you shampoo, it may take a LONG time for an adjustment period! My hair is used to not producing a lot of oil because I was super lazy as a child and never shampooed (or conditioned D; ) for months at a time. Then when I got older I learned that it's actually bad to shampoo everyday, so I'm like, heck yes! Though I condition every day because it keeps my hair soft. =]

And as other people said, they used powders and wigs and perfumes and all that fancy stuff so when their hair DID get greasy, that stuff covered it.

Charlotte:)
August 4th, 2010, 03:25 AM
This is an interesting thread. :)

About the greasiness though I have to disagree. I don't believe that oiliness is caused by shampoo, or that it is remedied by water only. I think some people have dry scalps and other people have naturally oily skin.

I didn't use anything but water for two months and my head was so oily it wasn't funny. I must have gained 5 pounds in oil. My Grandmothers scalp produces almost zero oil.

My guess is that oil production is related to the type of hair a person has. Its like the body makes the hair and the oil to go with it. I have very fine fragile hair and the oil protects it from breaking and tangling, so that is why it is good for me to leave it alone and not remove it too often. I think people with dry scalps have courser hair that doesn't need a lot of oil to protect it, or less oil.

Its just a theory, I could be wrong.

I think its genetic. i don't think anyone with an oily scalp should be fooled into thinking that water only will miraculously change their scalp or oil production. Or that shampoo will give them oily hair. Shampoo removes the oil, thats all it does, for better or worse.


:)Anna

Ah, I couldn't agree more with this. It seems more curly-haired people can go without washing longer than straight-haired people. I have tried many alternatives to shampoo for long periods of time, and every time my hair ends up getting super greasy, my scalp starts itching like crazy, and eventually my hair starts falling out. As soon as I switch back to shampoo it's healthy again. I suppose it's a very good thing that some of us live in a time where we can use shampoo as often as needed :)

tabby28
August 4th, 2010, 04:02 AM
I agree with Annalouise and Charlotte. I think genetics are a large contributin factor to quantity of oil, in particular because it is part of the skins protective barrier against strong sunlight - it is found that people living closer to the equator often have oilier skin.

Personally, I have found that decreasing washes (especially with harsher products) has made my skin less oily, but I have to wash at least every other day otherwise I develop scalp problems and I loose hair as a result. (I am by the way, curly haired, as is everyone else in my family with oily skin and scalp problems! So I don't know if it is neccessarily true tht curlies can longer than straights).

Gem
August 4th, 2010, 04:16 AM
This post made LOL. I would imagine that Gem and other WOs would have a chuckle too.



Yes, a little bit :D

I know a couple people have said in the thread that washing less often or with something less harsh (such as water) does not train your scalp to produce less oil, but...when I was shampooing every day, my hair would look greasy and yuck if I skipped a day. Now my hair is fluffy and clean with a WO rinse once a week (three months since last shampoo).
It's probably a YMMV situation.

Squeak toy
August 4th, 2010, 07:19 AM
I think people try to be way too clean today. The same goes for how they clean their homes with every product killing 99.9 percent of germs. Standards of how people are acceptable have changed and a long time ago it was normal to look or smell like you have not washed. I only wash my hair 1x a week and shower every few days when I feel like I need to. I love to be outside and active working up a sweat but I still do not need to shower everyday. I find it funny that people who shower everyday often do nothing that involves dirt or sweat. I also do not wash all my clothes after each wearing unless they need it as well.

bumblebums
August 4th, 2010, 08:11 AM
One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that in the pre-industrial era, the air was much cleaner, so your body would stay cleaner, too. Even today, I notice a big difference in how dirty my hair gets when I live in a city as opposed to in a more rural area. Particulates stick to whatever moisture gathers on your skin and add to the grime factor.

The argument about whether washing less causes you to produce less sebum is getting kind of tiresome to me. For some people it does, and for others, it doesn't. Like everything else in the world, it varies from person to person.

birthmarkie
August 4th, 2010, 08:28 AM
I think nowadays cleanliness has been confused with sterility, in general, to the point where people's immune systems don't even develop properly. It's still only in a small percent of the population where people make their hair squeaky clean on a daily basis, but those may be the people seen most on TV or in offices, etc. A little hair grease can be attractive, actually. I'm positive people back in the day did not wash their hair with foaming soapy shampoos. Also today people with short hair (or at least a lot of guys I know) shampoo much less frequently than those with longer hair.

ETA: I think it's never about the grease, but how it looks and is styled.

ravenreed
August 4th, 2010, 08:33 AM
I think that people sometimes don't realize how others perceive them. I had a friend in high school who was from another country where bathing is not as much of a daily thing, at least it wasn't 20 years ago. We could tell. No one said anything to him, but those of us who were regular bathers were extremely aware of what we considered his lack of hygiene. I don't think he was any stinkier than the rest of us would have been if we bathed the same amount he did.

I want to look and smell clean. I don't want to have to fuss with my hair to hide the fact it is flat and stringy.

birthmarkie
August 4th, 2010, 09:08 AM
I want to look and smell clean. I don't want to have to fuss with my hair to hide the fact it is flat and stringy.

Same here. I just think it may have not been so much of a fuss to make nonsqueaky hair look good as it is now that all people know is to clean, clean, clean.

SpinDance
August 4th, 2010, 10:45 AM
I've done several living history experiments and keeping clean is something that I found very interesting. I can clean my body with just a couple cups of warm water and a small cloth. I go barefoot as long as it's not too cold (below 40 F), so cleaning feet/ankles isn't really helpful, but I'll pour water on them sometimes, or walk through water. Mostly I'll only clean my feet right before bed, apply oil/grease of some sort then put on socks to sleep in. This keeps my feet from drying out too much, and keeps the pads supple.

Hair I'll rinse if needed, but otherwise I mostly keep it up.

The most pervasive smell is woodsmoke. Hair, clothes, people, usually all end up smelling of woodsmoke. There may be some amount of body odor if someone is doing heavy labor, but a fast rinse/wipe takes care of that and then it's back to the smoke. When all cooking, and in cold weather heating, is done with an open fire, you'll end up smelling like woodsmoke.

LadyLately
August 4th, 2010, 12:11 PM
My hair also tends to do something weird. I normally wash my hair at night, or try to. If I have the day off of work and school (like today! :D) I won't wash until the next night (I'm trying to extend washes and adjust to CO). Once my hair gets past a certain point of greasiness, even if I don't preen that much, it's just...magically stops looking greasy. Like I woke up today and it was mysteriously clean-looking. And my scalp tends to produce a lot of oil (ah, adolescence...).

Granted, I don't think I'll ever do WO despite this magical ability, because I like pretty scented things and am too lazy to spend an hour preening every day or two.


The most pervasive smell is woodsmoke. Hair, clothes, people, usually all end up smelling of woodsmoke. There may be some amount of body odor if someone is doing heavy labor, but a fast rinse/wipe takes care of that and then it's back to the smoke. When all cooking, and in cold weather heating, is done with an open fire, you'll end up smelling like woodsmoke.

Oh, but most woodsmoke (to me) smells so nice!

ETA: Sorry for the double post. I keep forgetting I have the 'edit' ability now.

spidermom
August 4th, 2010, 12:28 PM
The life expectancy was a lot shorter back in the day, and lack of hygiene was part of the problem. Cleanliness of hair and body is a good thing, methinks.

orbiting
August 4th, 2010, 12:34 PM
To be 100% honest I've tried washing less. And you know what? I feel absolutely disgusting dirty and I cannot stand to be around myself AND I'm embarrassed to be seen even by my relatives if I don't wash every other day. Period. End of subject. I don't care how others feel -- I feel nasty and disgusting.

And waterless shampoos? And baking soda? or powder? They don't make my hair look clean. They make it look like I put oil AND dirt/dust in my hair.

And I have a very very sensitive nose. I can tell when someone hasn't showered for more than 2 days. And I tend to stay well away from those people. You may not think you smell, but guess what? Someone (probably me) thinks you do and is staying far far away. And perfumes? Just make people smell like they're dirty and covered in scent (which I'm usually allergic to)... It just doesn't work for me.

I am glad every single day that I live in a place with running water and people who think washing regularly is normal.

I am sure some people will think I am close minded and will swear up one side and down the other that they don't smell and they look clean. I can't make that call unless I see you in person and I'm standing near you... but I do know I've stood next to people who haven't washed (with soap and water) for days. They smell horrible and look terrible.

Yozhik
August 4th, 2010, 12:47 PM
lol. My mother and her sisters bathed weekly for most of their childhood on that same schedule, and that was during the 1950s in suburban southern California. With a full bathroom and a water heater :) I would be surprised if there weren't families that still stick with that schedule.

I grew up next to an LDS family who followed this schedule, and this was in the mid-90's. I think it's mostly advertising that has swayed a lot of peoples' minds into thinking that it's normal and necessary to bathe every day.

ericthegreat
August 4th, 2010, 01:10 PM
I hate to say it, but I agree completely with orbiting's post. I too also believe in daily showering/and or bathing. It has been proven in fact that you cannot smell your own scent. However, other people around you certainly can. If you allow yourself to not shower/wash yourself up to the point where you can even smell yourself, you can bet that anyone who has been around you has been catching your smell for days already and they didn't have the good sense to tell you about it.

I wouldn't say I have a particularly sensitive nose, but I can definitely vouch for being absolutely disgusted by a bad body odor/or a sweaty, dirty person who just reeks and you can't even stand to be near such a person without holding your nose.

Anyway we are getting off topic. Getting back to the original topic, I think that back in the olden days since the whole world back then as a collective whole bathed a lot less, their standards of cleanliness were much lower and their tolerance of foul smells were much higher. I'm sure that the people back then who had naturally oily hair simply accepted that they had greasy hair. In any case, back then all women wore their hair up in some form of updo, it was considered improper for a woman to leave her hair loose. I'm willing to bet that the shine that reflected off the hair of the women who had their portraits taken back then was the buildup of all their natural sebum. They didn't wash their hair often and their natural sebum was able to travel all the way down and completely coat all of their hair.

bumblebums
August 4th, 2010, 01:26 PM
I think that back in the olden days since the whole world back then as a collective whole bathed a lot less, their standards of cleanliness were much lower and their tolerance of foul smells were much higher. I'm sure that the people back then who had naturally oily hair simply accepted that they had greasy hair. In any case, back then all women wore their hair up in some form of updo, it was considered improper for a woman to leave her hair loose. I'm willing to bet that the shine that reflected off the hair of the women who had their portraits taken back then was the buildup of all their natural sebum. They didn't wash their hair often and their natural sebum was able to travel all the way down and completely coat all of their hair.

What are we talking about now, Western Europe? Asia? Pre-Columbian America? Africa? Or are we making a generalization about the entire world?

TrudieCat
August 4th, 2010, 03:32 PM
One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that in the pre-industrial era, the air was much cleaner, so your body would stay cleaner, too. Even today, I notice a big difference in how dirty my hair gets when I live in a city as opposed to in a more rural area. Particulates stick to whatever moisture gathers on your skin and add to the grime factor.

I've experienced this. I never lived in a rural area, but I noticed after I moved to a much bigger city with a lot more car traffic that I was just plain dirtier at the end of the day. Not greasier, but dirtier. I got into the habit of washing my hair every day because I didn't want all that junk on my pillowcase at night.


I think that people sometimes don't realize how others perceive them. I had a friend in high school who was from another country where bathing is not as much of a daily thing, at least it wasn't 20 years ago. We could tell. No one said anything to him, but those of us who were regular bathers were extremely aware of what we considered his lack of hygiene. I don't think he was any stinkier than the rest of us would have been if we bathed the same amount he did.

I've know several people - and dated on person - who have sworn by a much less intense hygiene program than is considered the norm in the mainstream western world these days. In every case, I could tell. The human body just has a distinctive smell to it when it's not being constantly washed. This guy I dated *swore* he didn't smell at all. But yeah, uh, he did. I didn't bother me, but it was there. :shrug: It's part of being a person.

I agree with others who have said that beauty and hygiene standards are of their times, and norms evolve from those standards. Some - not all - people will get greasy hair if they only wash once per month, or even once per week, so it must not have been uncommon to see people with greasy hair when that was the hygiene standard.

Othala
August 4th, 2010, 03:42 PM
Living in a rural area where we have relatively clean air and water, I agree that hair and skin stay cleaner......as long as you are not working on a farm, LOL.

Anyway, my dog smells of dog, my chickens smell like chickens and my ducks smell like ducks. The horse muck in my garden smells of itself and each plant exudes its own particular smell that is right and natural to it.

What has happened to the human animal that we dare not allow ourselves to smell like humans? Backward thinking is what, IMO.

ravenreed
August 4th, 2010, 04:07 PM
I prefer to smell like a washed human than an unwashed one. No one is 100% free of scent, short of just getting out of the shower.


Living in a rural area where we have relatively clean air and water, I agree that hair and skin stay cleaner......as long as you are not working on a farm, LOL.

Anyway, my dog smells of dog, my chickens smell like chickens and my ducks smell like ducks. The horse muck in my garden smells of itself and each plant exudes its own particular smell that is right and natural to it.

What has happened to the human animal that we dare not allow ourselves to smell like humans? Backward thinking is what, IMO.

lillylonghair
August 4th, 2010, 04:18 PM
Living in a rural area where we have relatively clean air and water, I agree that hair and skin stay cleaner......as long as you are not working on a farm, LOL.

Anyway, my dog smells of dog, my chickens smell like chickens and my ducks smell like ducks. The horse muck in my garden smells of itself and each plant exudes its own particular smell that is right and natural to it.

What has happened to the human animal that we dare not allow ourselves to smell like humans? Backward thinking is what, IMO.


I think our odor also depends a lot on our diets. My husband does not eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and it is noticeable in his odor. My DD on the other hand smells very sweet and milky like my breastmilk.

akrasia
August 4th, 2010, 04:32 PM
Well there's olden days and then there's olden days.

I'm currently writing about the period of 1916 and the fad of shampooing was becoming more common among upper class women. Also shorter hair and actual hairstyles were becoming more common, which usually require washing and styling. Most people used powder in their hair--there were all sorts of special powders marketed--as well as vinegar rinses.

It's funny re: washing. My husband is 61, and he remembers his father taking a bath "once a week, whether he needed it or not." I imagine that most people who bathed weekly did a little clean of essential areas in the morning or evening--just like I do if I don't have time to shower after a workout.

Qwackie
August 4th, 2010, 04:41 PM
My hair's always squeaky and soft, but I never wash it, just brush with a boar bristle brush once it's dry. I'm used to the smell of sweat, I live with a fishing boy who's also on the football team at our school.
.... Yeaaahhh. He really doesn't smell that bad, it's just the scent trail he leaves when he sits on the couch or walks into the house.

Drynwhyl
August 4th, 2010, 04:55 PM
heh, I've heard from various sources that in medieval Europe, the monarchs and all the "high society" considered bathing bad. The dirtier and smellier you were, the fancier you were :D
They also didn't have toilets and peed behind curtains in little niches in the walls. My music professor visited Versaiiles and said you can still smell the ammonia in some rooms xD
I don't know how accurate this is, but yeah, "cleanliness standards" used to be much lower.

GlennaGirl
August 4th, 2010, 05:02 PM
I prefer to smell like a washed human than an unwashed one. No one is 100% free of scent, short of just getting out of the shower.

I agree with this and it gives me a huge dilemma. We are seriously going under financially and I have reduced my showering. I only shower every other day now. (I also wash my hair at that time.) (ETA: This isn't the only conserving I do on water, in case anyone is thinking, "How much could she possibly be saving by skipping every other day's shower?" I also have changed the way I do dishes to conserve water, and also my clothes-washing; I used to frequently wash my blankets, for example, and now I fluff them in the dryer between washings rather than use the water.)

I am constantly afraid I smell bad. :( I bathe my kids every day because they're going out in public (to school, etc.). I work from my home. But on a non-shower day I never stand very close to anyone. I just hate the feeling of being unwashed. No matter how unevolved that may be. :p I hate having to live this way but we're cutting down everywhere and water is excessively expensive here in the southwest, where it isn't exactly plentiful and has to be shipped in or diverted or what-have-you.

Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate it.

I'm no snob but I agree: a person who goes days without washing IS detectable and not necessarily in a good way. Who knows whether the amount of chemicals, etc. we are in the midst of every day has anything to do with it. Perhaps in the pre-industrial age, human sweat wasn't so gross. But now...to me at least, it is. :(

Another ETA, as I've thought about this: And though this may not be solid proof, I have to theorize that people "in the old days" (pre-industrial age on back in societies that didn't frequently bathe) it was rather gross too. The liberal use of perfumes on one's person, in one's closet, on one's clothes and furniture; the spreading of odor (and dirt)-absorbing rushes on the floor; keeping a handkerchief in one's pocket to put over the nose when in close quarters with groups of other people, such as city settings; and even a bride holding flowers to add a sweet smell (or detract from a sweat one :p ) all would seem to point to too much body odor being gross to anyone, even in the past, and among a huge range of cultures and geographies.

There are many, many of us human beings, and there have been for a while, and we live in close quarters. When there were fewer humans, more space and no cities (thousands of years ago) we were probably "aerated" from one another more. But obviously since written history, the liberal use of perfumes and fragrances in the home, on the body...everywhere, seems to say to me that it's never actually been okay to be stinky. :( I'm sorry.

ravenreed
August 4th, 2010, 05:15 PM
I also live in the southwest, and am conscious of water, which is why I now try to wash my hair 3x a week at most. I do shower my body about every day, but that is fast and uses relatively little water. You are probably okay if you are bathing every other day. I can go an extra day, I just feel sticky and not so fresh, especially at this time of year. If you feel you need to, can you just get the important bits?

As for clothing, a trick is to spritz your clothing with a bit of cheap vodka. It will kill any bacteria that can cause odors, but won't mark things up. I added a bit of essential oil to mine. I started using it when I had dance items that are too delicate to wash all the time. I use it for my bras that need to be hand washed, and it works for underarms as well. However, even cheap vodka does cost something, so I am not sure if that will save you anything in the long run.

ETA: Underarms of clothing, not people! It might burn!

GlennaGirl
August 4th, 2010, 05:29 PM
Thank you, ravenreed!

** To the thread in general: there's another factor I thought of. I seem to hear this thought on one side of the "washing" coin that people who shower frequently are somehow unnatural, overly sanitized, and perhaps are even being just a bit silly. I disagree, because the way we live is in itself unnatural.

We spend huge portions of our days enclosed in spaces (homes, offices) where our own odors, rather than wafting into the air, are sticking around stale to re-envelop us all day long, whether we notice it or not. Like it or not, we probably *do* smell more than we naturally "should", so I don't think the dislike of strong bodily odors due to infrequent washing is necessarily an "unnatural" thing, nor do I think under our circumstances (largely indoor living) is it necessarily healthy to wash as infrequently as we may have when, say, we were still hunter-gatherers or, heck, even just a couple hundred years ago when so much of one's day was spent outdoors just with simple tasks. (And you'll notice those who lived mostly indoors and in close quarters, in the days when bathing was rare, tended to have RAMPANT disease. Not bathing all by itself doesn't cause disease...but not bathing, then being in close proximity with others, indoors, over long periods of time can in fact aid the spread of disease to an absolutely amazing extent.)

So I don't believe it's necessarily silly to wish to be clean nor to be repelled by an overly-strong body smell that's close by. I think it's our body's way of saying we're not in ideal circumstances (outside, circulating air; etc.) for protection from that person's dirt (and germs).

There is such a thing as being "overly sanitized" but I don't think daily bathing is it. I truly don't, given the way we as human beings live. It's like the cleanliness you'd expect of a badger in the wild v. a badger in a cage at the zoo.

birthmarkie
August 4th, 2010, 05:30 PM
I agree that proximity is probably a huge factor. Greasy hair can look amazing from afar, but you may not want to have your nose in it. In a society where people keep their distance, it would be more acceptable.

And in no way was I saying that washing daily is unnatural or over-sanitized.

ETA: although it would be easy to argue here that shampooing with sulfates daily could be damaging.

GlennaGirl
August 4th, 2010, 06:02 PM
And in no way was I saying that washing daily is unnatural or over-sanitized.

Well, unless I'm misinterpreting what you were referring to, you said a few posts back that you felt the degree to which people clean themselves today compromises their immune systems. To me that means over-sanitized.

Perhaps you meant more than daily washing or were referring to hand sanitizers, etc.? Now that I think about it.

However, here is the quote I'm referring to above in *this* post, anyway... :p


I think nowadays cleanliness has been confused with sterility, in general, to the point where people's immune systems don't even develop properly.

I wasn't actually originally referring to you, per se, when I made that post, but when I looked back just now, I did say where you said this. I see it wasn't said disrespectfully or in a way that inferred that people were being silly, just so you know. :)

birthmarkie
August 4th, 2010, 06:04 PM
OK, good! Yeah, I meant hand sanitizers and all that stuff.

[not that I don't use them, but antibacterial stuff, bleach, etc. is generally overused, just like antibiotics]

JaneinMarch
August 4th, 2010, 06:06 PM
What about countries that use herbs as soap? I've noticed in the past that using shikakai powder on my body made it smell better than if I'd used soap. It was harder for me to get rid of funk with regular bar or gel soap.

ravenreed
August 4th, 2010, 06:21 PM
People forget that in hunter gatherer times, you would only be exposed to the germs of a handful of people, rather than the hundreds you might interact with by going to the store, work, etc. It would be nice if all those people were not covered in filth. We are living longer, not just from better medicine, but better hygiene.

I agree about your thoughts on being indoors. Homes are better insulated too, so that smells really stick around. I don't even have a flue open, most of the time.



Thank you, ravenreed!

** To the thread in general: there's another factor I thought of. I seem to hear this thought on one side of the "washing" coin that people who shower frequently are somehow unnatural, overly sanitized, and perhaps are even being just a bit silly. I disagree, because the way we live is in itself unnatural.

We spend huge portions of our days enclosed in spaces (homes, offices) where our own odors, rather than wafting into the air, are sticking around stale to re-envelop us all day long, whether we notice it or not. Like it or not, we probably *do* smell more than we naturally "should", so I don't think the dislike of strong bodily odors due to infrequent washing is necessarily an "unnatural" thing, nor do I think under our circumstances (largely indoor living) is it necessarily healthy to wash as infrequently as we may have when, say, we were still hunter-gatherers or, heck, even just a couple hundred years ago when so much of one's day was spent outdoors just with simple tasks. (And you'll notice those who lived mostly indoors and in close quarters, in the days when bathing was rare, tended to have RAMPANT disease. Not bathing all by itself doesn't cause disease...but not bathing, then being in close proximity with others, indoors, over long periods of time can in fact aid the spread of disease to an absolutely amazing extent.)

So I don't believe it's necessarily silly to wish to be clean nor to be repelled by an overly-strong body smell that's close by. I think it's our body's way of saying we're not in ideal circumstances (outside, circulating air; etc.) for protection from that person's dirt (and germs).

There is such a thing as being "overly sanitized" but I don't think daily bathing is it. I truly don't, given the way we as human beings live. It's like the cleanliness you'd expect of a badger in the wild v. a badger in a cage at the zoo.

birthmarkie
August 4th, 2010, 06:39 PM
What about countries that use herbs as soap? I've noticed in the past that using shikakai powder on my body made it smell better than if I'd used soap. It was harder for me to get rid of funk with regular bar or gel soap.

That makes sense. Some standard soaps can cause build-up, like the dreaded soap scum.

wvgemini
August 4th, 2010, 07:18 PM
I've been following this thread for a bit and find it interesting. I just figured I would add in my two cents about the whole "perception" of being clean. :)

Now, I am one who bathes daily. I like being clean. I like my floofy soaps and shower gels and stuff. I also wash my hair every day (sulfate free!) because I have tried the CO and even WO and my hair just does not do it.

Anyway, there was a point where I couldn't bathe for about two weeks. We had just gone into Afghanistan and we had ONE potable water point. I got one shower and then the Marines left (and took their shower with them). It was January and very cold. I managed to baby wipe my face and all the ... ahem ... hot spots, but couldn't truly bathe until we got back to Germany. I got ready to take a shower and didn't think I looked that bad. Sure, I was unshaved and a little dusty; but my hair looked okay. Until I started washing it. It took about 30 minutes to get all of the sand and dirt and mud out of my hair (and it was barely shoulder-length!). I know I'm rambling a bit here, but I guess my point goes back to even though you (a general you) may thing you are clean, you could really be hiding five pounds of dirt on you.

teela1978
August 4th, 2010, 08:38 PM
I've been following this thread for a bit and find it interesting. I just figured I would add in my two cents about the whole "perception" of being clean. :)

Now, I am one who bathes daily. I like being clean. I like my floofy soaps and shower gels and stuff. I also wash my hair every day (sulfate free!) because I have tried the CO and even WO and my hair just does not do it.

Anyway, there was a point where I couldn't bathe for about two weeks. We had just gone into Afghanistan and we had ONE potable water point. I got one shower and then the Marines left (and took their shower with them). It was January and very cold. I managed to baby wipe my face and all the ... ahem ... hot spots, but couldn't truly bathe until we got back to Germany. I got ready to take a shower and didn't think I looked that bad. Sure, I was unshaved and a little dusty; but my hair looked okay. Until I started washing it. It took about 30 minutes to get all of the sand and dirt and mud out of my hair (and it was barely shoulder-length!). I know I'm rambling a bit here, but I guess my point goes back to even though you (a general you) may thing you are clean, you could really be hiding five pounds of dirt on you.
I've had similar experiences after backpacking trips. Thinking that I'm really not all that dirty for not having bathed in a week... and then I get in the shower and the surprisingly even layer of dirt that looked like a tan scrubs off.

GlennaGirl
August 4th, 2010, 08:46 PM
I've had similar experiences after backpacking trips. Thinking that I'm really not all that dirty for not having bathed in a week... and then I get in the shower and the surprisingly even layer of dirt that looked like a tan scrubs off.

I haven't noticed this, but I have had the experience of thinking my kids weren't all that bad, maybe we could skip tonight's bath, yadda yadda, but ended up running them a bath anyway for whatever reason...and the water turning brown. Really brown. Blarghhhhhhhhhhh. :laugh:

I think, however, as far as the smelliness issue goes, kids can often go a bit longer than adults simply because they don't yet have the hormones that tend to really crank up body odor. (Or...the amount of hormones, I should say. They do have some, obviously!)

I do remember being about 12 and leaning forward from the back seat of the car to tell my mother something, and her saying, "Oh, boy, Glenna. Um, I think maybe it's time you started wearing deodorant." She was very matter-of-fact about it but I imagine I must have stunk something fierce...poor Mom! No wonder she had all the windows in the car down, just kidding...Anyway, obviously I didn't smell it myself. I was taken very much by surprise.

italianamama
August 4th, 2010, 11:16 PM
I agree with this and it gives me a huge dilemma. We are seriously going under financially and I have reduced my showering. I only shower every other day now. (I also wash my hair at that time.) (ETA: This isn't the only conserving I do on water, in case anyone is thinking, "How much could she possibly be saving by skipping every other day's shower?"

Okay, so when I was in the Marine Corps we were taught to take "Navy showers" (named as such because it's the ONLY way you're allowed to take a shower on ship :D )

Basically, you turn the shower on just long enough to get everything wet, turn the shower all the way off, soap everything up, then turn the shower on juuuust long enough to rinse off. We were ordered to shower this way when we were in Iraq because the water had to be trucked in. (It's also possible to get in a decent hair wash using this method, except the rinsing part would take longer.)

Did you ever think about taking baths? It's more than possible to get your hair really clean in a bath. And if you really want to stretch the water, the entire family can bathe in the same tub of water (bathing cleanest first, dirtiest last).

twolunarspring
August 5th, 2010, 06:49 AM
Well, I shower maybe twice a week. I use deodorant, and sometimes dusting powders too. I don't wash my hair with anything but water, and I don't smell bad at all. I smell of that warm skin and hair smell, but that's it - and trust me, I have friends who would tell me otherwise! :p I have been surprised by how insistently some of the participants in this thread have been insisting that I *must* smell! Sorry, but I don't :shrug:

I was brought up mostly by my grandparents, who certainly wouldn't dream of showering every day, because they didn't believe it's necessary (and it certainly isn't, for me) and because they would prefer not to use so much water. I know lots and lots of people who do the same - bath or shower a couple of times a week, and the rest of the time they can just give themselves a quick wash at the sink with a sponge if they need to. My husband showers every evening because he cycles home from work and gets very sweaty, but I don't sweat anywhere near that much and I don't often get very grubby, so it simply isn't necessary. My daughter has a bath roughly twice a week too, unless some sort of messy event occurs!

I'm thinking that maybe 200 years ago, in this area, at least, our sanitation in general was very poor... people were still chucking chamber-pots out of the window and onto the street, so I think that whether a person has BO or not would have been the least of their worries! I expect a lot of very poor people living in urban areas wouldn't have even washed themselves with water all that often, because they wouldn't have had easy access to it. So the standards were just totally different.

And I expect people's hair really did look greasy by modern standards... I only wash my hair with water, and sometimes my hair has an oily appearance to it... sometimes it looks shampoo-clean and most of the time it's somewhere in-between. It's not greasy enough that people stop and stare in the street or anything :D so I figure there will have been plenty of people like that back then, too. And then there would have been people with really dirty-looking hair and faces because they *were* dirty, as in they had dirt stuck to them. And there will have been people who used powder concoctions to make themselves smell sweeter and look more refined.

wvgemini
August 5th, 2010, 06:59 AM
Well, I shower maybe twice a week. I use deodorant, and sometimes dusting powders too. I don't wash my hair with anything but water, and I don't smell bad at all. I smell of that warm skin and hair smell, but that's it - and trust me, I have friends who would tell me otherwise! :p I have been surprised by how insistently some of the participants in this thread have been insisting that I *must* smell! Sorry, but I don't :shrug:


I think a lot of that may boil down to body chemistry, too (and possibly diet?). I can assure you that if I went more than a day without bathing, I wouldn't be able to stand myself:o But that's me. Even my BF will often shower in the evenings, go to work, come home and not shower again until before bed. He doesn't smell like anything other than his own scent (which is very good!). Now, if he works out he'll be smelly, but even that isn't horrifying like I've experienced with some. Me? Oh I'd be a walking biohazard!

melikai
August 5th, 2010, 07:45 AM
To be 100% honest I've tried washing less. And you know what? I feel absolutely disgusting dirty and I cannot stand to be around myself AND I'm embarrassed to be seen even by my relatives if I don't wash every other day. Period. End of subject. I don't care how others feel -- I feel nasty and disgusting.

And waterless shampoos? And baking soda? or powder? They don't make my hair look clean. They make it look like I put oil AND dirt/dust in my hair.

And I have a very very sensitive nose. I can tell when someone hasn't showered for more than 2 days. And I tend to stay well away from those people. You may not think you smell, but guess what? Someone (probably me) thinks you do and is staying far far away. And perfumes? Just make people smell like they're dirty and covered in scent (which I'm usually allergic to)... It just doesn't work for me.

I am glad every single day that I live in a place with running water and people who think washing regularly is normal.

I am sure some people will think I am close minded and will swear up one side and down the other that they don't smell and they look clean. I can't make that call unless I see you in person and I'm standing near you... but I do know I've stood next to people who haven't washed (with soap and water) for days. They smell horrible and look terrible.

I wash my body with only water about once a week, and use soap on my armpits and private areas (and any areas if they get sweaty).
And I wash my hair once a week.
You can look at pictures in my album and tell me whether I look terrible, and my hair looks like a greasy mess. :rolleyes:




Ah, I couldn't agree more with this. It seems more curly-haired people can go without washing longer than straight-haired people. I have tried many alternatives to shampoo for long periods of time, and every time my hair ends up getting super greasy, my scalp starts itching like crazy, and eventually my hair starts falling out. As soon as I switch back to shampoo it's healthy again. I suppose it's a very good thing that some of us live in a time where we can use shampoo as often as needed :)

There are umpteen members here with straight or straightish hair who wash once a week or less, myself included. Many also have had issues with acne in the past, with oily skin.

My 'transition' to washing my hair less frequently was made easier as soon as I stopped using silicones and sls.

bumblebums
August 5th, 2010, 08:47 AM
I wash my body with only water about once a week, and use soap on my armpits and private areas (and any areas if they get sweaty).
And I wash my hair once a week.
You can look at pictures in my album and tell me whether I look terrible, and my hair looks like a greasy mess.

There are umpteen members here with straight or straightish hair who wash once a week or less, myself included. Many also have had issues with acne in the past, with oily skin.

My 'transition' to washing my hair less frequently was made easier as soon as I stopped using silicones and sls.

It's worth pointing out that there is a huge cultural difference between North Americans and... well, pretty much the rest of the world. As soon as they think nobody is listening, they start talking about smelly Europeans :) There are stereotypes of European women with unshaven armpits, and "BO" is somehow expected of people from Eastern Europe in particular.

I was amazed, when I first came here, that many Americans wear each clothing item exactly once before washing it again. This despite the fact that many Americans don't walk very much, and they hardly exercise... Call me a smelly European, but this seems incredibly wasteful. It wastes so much energy and water to wash all those clothes! It's no wonder that the water runoff here is full of chemicals...

It is a product of 20th-century advertising that we now think it obligatory to strip off the body's own natural secretions and immediately replace them with "natural oils that your skin needs..." My skin needs its own oils, thank you very much.

I should qualify this--I do take a quick WO shower every day, and I take measures against armpit odor. When in Rome. Trust me, if I had a BO problem, my friends would tell me.

pepperminttea
August 5th, 2010, 10:12 AM
I think a lot of that may boil down to body chemistry, too (and possibly diet?). I can assure you that if I went more than a day without bathing, I wouldn't be able to stand myself:o But that's me. Even my BF will often shower in the evenings, go to work, come home and not shower again until before bed. He doesn't smell like anything other than his own scent (which is very good!). Now, if he works out he'll be smelly, but even that isn't horrifying like I've experienced with some. Me? Oh I'd be a walking biohazard!

Agreed. I know a guy who tends to stretch out his showers and laundry, but he doesn't smell bad, just of himself. It's not a repellent smell, it's just recognisably his. My middle brother, however - I honestly don't know how he does it, because I eat the same as he does when we're both at home, but he seems to have a much more pungent odour than either me or our parents. It's really quite impressive/worrying how quickly after he showers it comes back. :poot:

Mirsha
August 5th, 2010, 11:43 AM
Doesn't smell have a purpose when choosing a mate? That if a person smells like something horrible to you, you're just not genetically matching?

For me, that'd explain why I like my mates unwashed and think my brother smells like crazy monkeys. :D

GlennaGirl
August 5th, 2010, 12:04 PM
I have been surprised by how insistently some of the participants in this thread have been insisting that I *must* smell!

I'm sorry. :( Maybe our perceptions are wrong, then, and people we smell and who smell bad, are actually washing way less than you describe. There's really no way to know a stranger's personal habits so that's possible.

I am definitely able to smell a "people" smell that doesn't smell bad to me the way a not-clean BO smell does...Okay, let's see how I can explain that. For example, I love a certain "man" smell. That doesn't mean sweat, necessarily (or maybe it does and my nose just isn't differentiating) but some men just smell...mannish and...yum. So it's good. But a dirty/sweaty man-smell to me is absolutely repugnant. I don't know where the line is drawn by my nose but it is there.

It's the same with my children. Each of my three children smells different. They all smell different even just an hour out of the bath or shower. I love my littlest one's smell best. I can sit there and just sniff his head for hours. I know that sounds bizarre. However, when he starts getting really dirty I definitely stop liking his smell.

So I don't think it's a great thing that we maybe want to wash all possible traces of detectable humanity from ourselves, :D and perhaps we North Americans really do go to extremes on it (I haven't been to other parts of the world so I'm not the one to point out definitives here). And perhaps some people really are just yuck-smellier naturally than other people are yuck-smelly (as opposed to just smelling like a human who's basically clean).

Does that make sense?

I personally feel I'm a yuck person. I really just do feel like I have to wash more often. But maybe the people responding here have a different body chemistry and a more pleasing people-smell. That's entirely possible.

Hope that made sense.

florenonite
August 5th, 2010, 12:22 PM
GlennaGirl: I agree with you on "people" smells. DBF and I both shower every 2-4 days, depending on activity and the season. I love DBF's smell on days he hasn't showered (on the days he has showered he smells too much like his shampoo :p), until it gets to be time for him to bathe again, by which point he's getting a bit ripe :lol:

I don't think that humans as a whole must bathe daily. Some people prefer it (and there's nothing wrong with that), some people have lifestyles that necessitate it, still others do so simply because of their body chemistry, but generally speaking if you've not been sweating you don't need to wash yourself daily in order to avoid smelling bad. You just might end up smelling like you rather than your soap :shrug:

wvgemini
August 5th, 2010, 12:27 PM
Doesn't smell have a purpose when choosing a mate? That if a person smells like something horrible to you, you're just not genetically matching?

For me, that'd explain why I like my mates unwashed and think my brother smells like crazy monkeys. :D

Okay, that made me LOL. But yeah, I have experienced that kind of thing before. I dated a guy who always smelled a bit "off" to me. He was cute and had a great personality, I just didn't care for his chemistry. My DBF on the other hand ... there are days I am seriously almost late for work because I just wasnt to lay there and breathe him in:crush:

twolunarspring
August 5th, 2010, 12:33 PM
No need to apologise, Glennagirl - I'm not offended! :D

I remember a couple of months ago, someone was telling me at length about how people who don't wash their hair are smelly and gross and their hair looks awful... a few minutes after complimenting me on how lovely *my* (not-washed-for-eight-months) hair was. Haha!

I've seen and been around people who really neglected themselves, and had the stringy hair and the BO smell, but that's more than just not washing frequently. Some people just probably never wash or do anything at all to take care of themselves, and therefore the dirt just stays there and builds up. I guess maybe a lot of people experience people like that and think "See? That's what happens when we don't wash every day!"

And I'm certain people have very differing body chemistry, and we all know that we have different reactions to soaps and chemicals, etc.

Qwackie
August 5th, 2010, 12:41 PM
They also didn't have toilets and peed behind curtains in little niches in the walls. My music professor visited Versaiiles and said you can still smell the ammonia in some rooms xD
I don't know how accurate this is, but yeah, "cleanliness standards" used to be much lower.

That's gross. :disgust: That' really, really gross.

bumblebums
August 5th, 2010, 12:52 PM
heh, I've heard from various sources that in medieval Europe, the monarchs and all the "high society" considered bathing bad. The dirtier and smellier you were, the fancier you were :D
They also didn't have toilets and peed behind curtains in little niches in the walls. My music professor visited Versaiiles and said you can still smell the ammonia in some rooms xD
I don't know how accurate this is, but yeah, "cleanliness standards" used to be much lower.


That's gross. :disgust: That' really, really gross.

I can find you some stations on the NYC subway that smell far worse than any medieval European castle. I don't think our cleanliness standards have risen much since those days. We just have indoor plumbing now, and most of us are toilet-trained.

luthien_belewen
August 5th, 2010, 01:20 PM
Interesting thread! I shower everyday, but they are super short, and most of the time I'm too lazy to soap up every last inch of myself (plus I don't think it is really necessary)! Usually I just do between my legs, armpits, feet and hair.

I say who cares how little or much you bathe as long as you are taking care of yourself and your appearance?

melikai
August 5th, 2010, 01:40 PM
It's worth pointing out that there is a huge cultural difference between North Americans and... well, pretty much the rest of the world. As soon as they think nobody is listening, they start talking about smelly Europeans :) There are stereotypes of European women with unshaven armpits, and "BO" is somehow expected of people from Eastern Europe in particular.

I was amazed, when I first came here, that many Americans wear each clothing item exactly once before washing it again. This despite the fact that many Americans don't walk very much, and they hardly exercise... Call me a smelly European, but this seems incredibly wasteful. It wastes so much energy and water to wash all those clothes! It's no wonder that the water runoff here is full of chemicals...

It is a product of 20th-century advertising that we now think it obligatory to strip off the body's own natural secretions and immediately replace them with "natural oils that your skin needs..." My skin needs its own oils, thank you very much.

I should qualify this--I do take a quick WO shower every day, and I take measures against armpit odor. When in Rome. Trust me, if I had a BO problem, my friends would tell me.

I definitely agree with what you're saying, however I'm from Canada. :)
I was going to mention that in my post because of the stereotypes you're talking about, and probably should have so that people couldn't just look and see that I'm in Serbia, and thus dismiss my opinion. ;)

auburn
August 5th, 2010, 01:43 PM
I find greasy hair offending.

I never go out with greasy hair for people to see me, I always wash it in time. I expect the same from others.

P.S.-and I find it normal to shower every day,and 2 times/day during summer. I like to be clean everywere all the time.
And my hair- I wash it every 2 days

I don't care what people were doing about this 200 years ago!!! i have shower, I USE IT

I love to smell clean NOT "body-odourish".

squiggyflop
August 5th, 2010, 02:30 PM
very interesting thread.. um well yes i think greasy hair used to be tolerated.. back in the day they used to have all sorts of head covers and wigs and whatnot that could have hid the grease

i need to wash with shampoo.. i tried WO and became a total greaseball.. i tried Sebum only and it was worse.. the grease just moved down the length and my head broke out into open sores and the sores got a half centimeter thick crust on them.. yuck.. now i only wash with shampoo like every other day to twice a week.. but thats just because i hate being wet so i try to get in and out of the shower as fast as possible.. though ive been known to take quick rubbing alcohol bathings during the day in the summer when ive already sweat away the clean feeling of the shower.. i just rub myself all over with a cloth soaked in alcohol.. nothing.. i repeat nothing gets rid of BO like rubbing alcohol and a fresh coat of deodorant.. also i dont shower everyday.. but i do wash myself every day.. i see no need to get my whole body wet when i can scrub the heck out of myself with rubbing alcohol.. frankly i think that the rubbing alcohol washing makes me smell cleaner than many people i meet who wash in a shower..

but i think my main grease problem is due to the speed my hair grows.. my folicles maybe need more lubrication.. i dont know if any of you know but my hair tends to grow a bit faster than normal..

also back then they werent eating as much fat as we eat today.. grease is fat.. if no fat goes in maybe no fat comes out..

wvgemini
August 5th, 2010, 03:03 PM
also back then they werent eating as much fat as we eat today.. grease is fat.. if no fat goes in maybe no fat comes out..

Ahhh ... I don't know if I totally agree with that one. True, there was no McD's or KFC or anything like that, but my grandma cooked in straight lard. And they ate bacon and pork and used the fatback from that too. And some people would cook anything in lard. Meats, greens, fry bread, you name it!

But now that you bring that up ... I think some of the diets were better as far as being in moderation and being more balanced with vegetables/grains/fruits, etc. (I say this as I watch Man v. Food:rolleyes:)

ravenreed
August 5th, 2010, 03:11 PM
The rubbing alcohol thing is interesting, but I think my already dry skin would react badly. Also, doesn't it burn like the dickens in your underarm area? I shave every day and thought of using rubbing alcohol there makes me shudder:!


very interesting thread.. um well yes i think greasy hair used to be tolerated.. back in the day they used to have all sorts of head covers and wigs and whatnot that could have hid the grease

i need to wash with shampoo.. i tried WO and became a total greaseball.. i tried Sebum only and it was worse.. the grease just moved down the length and my head broke out into open sores and the sores got a half centimeter thick crust on them.. yuck.. now i only wash with shampoo like every other day to twice a week.. but thats just because i hate being wet so i try to get in and out of the shower as fast as possible.. though ive been known to take quick rubbing alcohol bathings during the day in the summer when ive already sweat away the clean feeling of the shower.. i just rub myself all over with a cloth soaked in alcohol.. nothing.. i repeat nothing gets rid of BO like rubbing alcohol and a fresh coat of deodorant.. also i dont shower everyday.. but i do wash myself every day.. i see no need to get my whole body wet when i can scrub the heck out of myself with rubbing alcohol.. frankly i think that the rubbing alcohol washing makes me smell cleaner than many people i meet who wash in a shower..

but i think my main grease problem is due to the speed my hair grows.. my folicles maybe need more lubrication.. i dont know if any of you know but my hair tends to grow a bit faster than normal..

also back then they werent eating as much fat as we eat today.. grease is fat.. if no fat goes in maybe no fat comes out..

bumblebums
August 5th, 2010, 03:13 PM
also back then they werent eating as much fat as we eat today.. grease is fat.. if no fat goes in maybe no fat comes out..

This varies by culture and region. Arctic peoples have always relied on a high percentage of animal fat in their diet, as have Europeans who live in colder climates. For reasons that are hardly mysterious, bathing is traditionally not practiced frequently in such cultures. Although perhaps when you live in a really cold climate, you don't sweat as much. You certainly can't smell much when the air is really cold. Even if you could smell your neighbor's stinky pits, BO is the least of your problems when you live in the Arctic.

squiggyflop
August 5th, 2010, 03:14 PM
Ahhh ... I don't know if I totally agree with that one. True, there was no McD's or KFC or anything like that, but my grandma cooked in straight lard. And they ate bacon and pork and used the fatback from that too. And some people would cook anything in lard. Meats, greens, fry bread, you name it!

But now that you bring that up ... I think some of the diets were better as far as being in moderation and being more balanced with vegetables/grains/fruits, etc. (I say this as I watch Man v. Food:rolleyes:)
oh i was talking about waaaay earlier when people ate bread all day and whatever they could grow and when they didnt have 24 hour supermarkets where you can buy a ton of meat.. like back when you had to actually own a pig to be able to eat pork..

remember folk we arent just talking about america... in america there was plenty of room and free land for raising cattle and other meat animals during the 1800s.. on the other side of the ocean not everyone could afford a cow or the land it took to keep them.. think about all the people who were forced to eat only potatoes in ireland.. darnit now i want potatos..

squiggyflop
August 5th, 2010, 03:16 PM
This varies by culture and region. Arctic peoples have always relied on a high percentage of animal fat in their diet, as have Europeans who live in colder climates. For reasons that are hardly mysterious, bathing is traditionally not practiced frequently in such cultures. Although perhaps when you live in a really cold climate, you don't sweat as much. You certainly can't smell much when the air is really cold. Even if you could smell your neighbor's stinky pits, BO is the least of your problems when you live in the Arctic.
lol yup.. heehee.. now you got me thinking about those people who live eating almost exclusively raindeer meat..

ravenreed
August 5th, 2010, 03:18 PM
I didn't eat many vegetables growing up with my grandmother and her sisters, and the ones we had were cooked until the last vitamin gave up the ghost. It was meat 2 -3 times a day, lots of potatoes, white bread with your meals, and what not. So I am also unconvinced that the old days were more golden in regards to eating habits.


Ahhh ... I don't know if I totally agree with that one. True, there was no McD's or KFC or anything like that, but my grandma cooked in straight lard. And they ate bacon and pork and used the fatback from that too. And some people would cook anything in lard. Meats, greens, fry bread, you name it!

But now that you bring that up ... I think some of the diets were better as far as being in moderation and being more balanced with vegetables/grains/fruits, etc. (I say this as I watch Man v. Food:rolleyes:)

wvgemini
August 5th, 2010, 03:19 PM
oh i was talking about waaaay earlier when people ate bread all day and whatever they could grow and when they didnt have 24 hour supermarkets where you can buy a ton of meat.. like back when you had to actually own a pig to be able to eat pork..

remember folk we arent just talking about america... in america there was plenty of room and free land for raising cattle and other meat animals during the 1800s.. on the other side of the ocean not everyone could afford a cow or the land it took to keep them.. think about all the people who were forced to eat only potatoes in ireland.. darnit now i want potatos..

Okay, true. But don't forget about things like olives (oil) and fatty fish;) (totally playing devil's advocate, btw) And yeah, now I want a big baked potato too. Yum.