Here is an interesting but also ambiguous pair of articles in the New York Times about the upside and downside of using a revolutionary product, the AO+ Biome living bacteria veil which you can spray on yourself to reduce your consumption of soap products...
It's interesting because it relates an experiment with foregoing soap for 28 days and inviting living bacteria onto your skin originally found in dirt and uclean water while seeing what phenomena take place.
Julia Scott, the subject of the article and author of another piece in the same newspaper on the same topic, it must be noted however continued to wash her hands with soap, a strategic place on the body in terms of basic hygiene, and the spot doctors would recommend you wash, if you had to forsake all other areas.
The paper is ambiguous because, apparently, the inventor of the product David Whitlock, hasn't washed for 12 years with water nor soap - that other article specifies, well, except for the occasional sponge bath. How is he doing today is described as satisfactory - he does not look or smell unclean- although Scott reached a state of uncleaness which was pretty advanced after just 28 days. So, there is an art to cleaning yourself the natural way, by letting grow "good" bacteria.
Historically, the Greeks used oil and a scraper to clean themselves, so water and soap are really a cultural variant.
The frequency and means of cleaning yourself has been newly debated in the midst of allergy epidemics, which are suspected to be due to overcleaning ourselves.
The conclusion of the article, which is that the experiment allowed Scott to realize she could reduce her consumption of toiletries - and if not forego soap, forego the relatively heavy anti-bacterial chemical soup she was dousing herself in daily - may just be a "local" statement about the American obsession with clean and intolerance with bacteria.
For Scott, it turns out, the product worked more as soap rehab then proved its intrinsic qualities as adding anything worth considering for your hygiene or health routines.
We do not understand, in essence, what AO+ does, that is better than washing yourself less frequently.
Why she did it:
"I learned more about the product, and I also learned about the chemist, David Whitlock, who patented AO+ and hadn’t showered or shampooed for 12 years. I was amazed that he was willing to test it out on himself in such an extreme way." [...]
She revised her fundamentals:
I spent 33 years doing my best to not smell myself and not find out what I looked like if I didn’t shower. I hate the smell of grease in my hair, and I hate the feeling of oil on my skin, so I’ve worked really hard to avoid that, but here I was jumping in with both feet. [...]
She made an interesting olfactory discovery about herself:
I started to smell a little bit and then, later, a lot. It turns out my natural odor is something between fresh-cut onions and pungent marijuana, and I would never have discovered that otherwise.