The Secret To Beautiful Skin And Hair Is Just Not Washing It … Ever

The New York premiere of 'Epic' held at the Ziegfeld Theatre - Arrivals

All the most beautiful-haired celebrities have been surprisingly upfront lately about how rarely they wash their hair. Connie Britton, whose hair is so beautiful it has its own Twitter account, says she washes her gorgeous red mane maybe once a week, tops. Amanda Seyfried looks like angels spin her hair out of gold while she’s sleeping, and she says she washes her hair maybe twice a week, using a bit of dry shampoo in between if she thinks it’s necessary. But what works for our hair might actually work for our skin, too, because now some experts are advocating giving up face-washing entirely and letting some helpful bacteria do the work.

In the New York Times today, science writer Julia Scott says she was talked into spending a solid month as a test subject for AOBiome’s “living bacterial skin tonic.” She stopped washing and instead sprayed herself with living, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria twice a day while scientists monitored her skin. Miraculously, none of her coworkers noticed. While her hair got greasier, her skin eventually started getting much better. She writes:

“My skin began to change for the better. It actually became softer and smoother rather than dry and flaky, as though a sauna’s worth of humidity had penetrated my winter-hardened shell. And my complexion, prone to hormone-related breakouts, was clear. For the first time ever, my pores seemed to shrink. As I took my morning ‘shower’ — a three-minute rinse in a bathroom devoid of hygiene products — I remembered all the antibiotics I took as a teenager to quell my acne. How funny it would be if adding bacteria were the answer all along.”

It sounds like the secret to clear skin could actually be coating oneself in friendly bacteria. Huh.

At the end of the month-long experiment, Scott retrieved the cooler full of cleansers and beauty products she’d stashed at the beginning of the trial, but at that point she couldn’t stand the chemical smell of any of them.

“On the last day of the experiment, I opened it up, wrinkling my nose at the chemical odor. Almost everything in the cooler was a synthesized liquid surfactant, with lab-manufactured ingredients engineered to smell good and add moisture to replace the oils they washed away.”

She wound up tossing the lot of them and switching to a basic soap and a fragrance-free shampoo with as few ingredients as possible.

It does make sense when you think about it. Sometimes it seems like we’re all trapped in an endless cycle of scrubbing away the oils in our skin, then trying to get them all back in again with moisturizers. Maybe instead of spending money on another product to fix a problem that might have been created by other products, it would be better to step back and see what happens if we just let

As to what this means for one’s own life, well, I’m probably not going to coat myself in living bacteria any time soon, though yogurt does make an excellent face mask. But Scott’s story has convinced me to start experimenting with washing my face as little as possible. I’ll just have to cross my fingers that I wind up with smaller pores, and smoother, younger-looking skin the way she did. If it works, maybe I’ll even join the no-shampoo movement, too.

(Photo: Getty)

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    • Heather C

      Where can I get these magical pore-shrinking bacteria?

    • rivertrance

      i have extremely oily skin, and not washing it causes it to become visibly greasy and grimey looking and very dull (i go camping for a week at time multiple times a year so yes i know what i’m talking about). it doesn’t sound like the woman trying the bacteria spray had oily skin to begin with (she refers to it as dry and flaky) so i’m not convinced this will work for those of us with oil slicks for skin.

      • Rowan Cooke

        constantly washing away the oil will make your skin produce more oil resulting in oilier skin. you have to wait out the period while your skin balances out can be a week or two but after you will see great improvements. Goes for hair too!

    • SynthiaAvallone

      Its very good secret for the Celebrity is Face and hair stylish.

    • foodandart

      I rarely, if ever actually take soap and water to my face, and it has held up incredibly well. The trick is, when one does wash, to use a REAL soap, that is, a vegetable-oil based castile soap or a handmade soap.. NOT any of the nasty chemical/detergent-based national name brand kinds, and never, EVER put an anti-bacterial soap on your body – not even a hand gel.

      What I have found is that diet also plays a huge part in how you’ll smell after a day’s work. Eat fairly whole food – keeping the refined carb and sugar-laden garbage to a minimum (or not at all) and it seems to keep the yeasts in the gut and on the skin to a low level and you’ll really not smell that bad.

      What you MAY notice is that you’ll get near someone that is on the ‘come drown in my pool’ mode of too much perfume – or cheap petrochemical based synthetic fragrance.. and it will drive you right away. (Honestly, most people smell like meltdowns in plastics factories for the synthetic fragrances that are in the detergents they wash their clothes and bodies with.. and when you get away from that stuff, OH BOY!! can you smell it. Nasty, just nasty..)

      IF you really want to tighten up your skin, try a freshly peeled grapefruit or orange and when you squeeze the rind, the oils come out.. just rub that on your face. Smells incredible and is absolutely great for clearing the skin.

    • Debbie Eggers

      How do you get your make up off if you don’t wash your face?

      • Jamie Combs

        Coconut oil.

      • Mia

        Most people with oily skin cant or dont wear makeup. If they do we of course wash it of with a cleanser but not every woman wears makeup everyday.