No Shower, No Shampoo, No Problem
Our Quest to Better Road Hygiene Habits
Christian hasn’t showered in about six months. I’m a little less extreme - it’s been a couple of weeks for me.
This change in the status quo hygiene routine actually started before we were even thinking about moving into an RV full-time. Christian had read about the benefits of ice-cold showers in Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Body and decided to try it. Just once was enough for him to nope out of that option, and instead he switched to no showers.
I tried it a couple of weeks after he first did, noticing that his hair was looking less greasy and fuller overall, whereas before it would start flattening out from its natural wavy state after a couple of days. I first tried just the “no poo” (no shampoo) method. The basic principle of this technique is that shampoos strip oil from hair and conditioners add it back, so cutting out both shampoo and conditioner saves steps, money, and time. However, there’s a re-training period where your scalp is still producing too much ‘oil’ in expectation of having it stripped, which makes your hair look greasier for awhile - not a good look for a third-grade teacher. My scalp was also really itchy during this period. I kept caving and using shampoo again.
Then over the summer, when I would step out of my post-workout shower still sweating, I gradually shifted from regular showers to cool showers to Christian’s no-shower-washcloth-wipe-down method. It was way easier, and saved having to re-style my hair again afterwards since I would just scrub at the roots where the most oil was located and brush through the rest to remove any debris that had accumulated during renovations. After I got my hair bleached/dyed, it was drier and less oily, so I almost completely transitioned away from showering. Since August 18 (42 days from time of writing), I’ve showered maybe twice. I’m glad we stumbled on this method before we started full-timing it, since our shower in the RV is pretty pathetic and now we have extra storage instead.
Which brings me to our actual on-the-road hygiene habits! With these habits, our freshwater tank lasts us over a week (including doing dishes) - we’re currently going on day 9 of our second tank fill since we started full-timing. We still clean ourselves every day - we just use wet washcloths, sometimes with soap when we’re really dirty, but normally without. Here’s my typical daily morning routine:
- Jump out of the over-cab bed onto the Lovesac beanbag (easier than climbing down).
- Use the toilet.
- Brush teeth - water is on only to wet my toothbrush, then again to rinse the sink/toothbrush when I’m done. We use non-fluoride toothpastes like this one.
- Take vitamins and drink a glass of water. This is not from the tap - we have two 5-gallon refillable jugs and a little battery pump-spout.
- Evaluate hair. Normally I just comb it out, but sometimes if my bangs are really wack I wet a washcloth and reset.
- Get dressed.
- Apply deodorant.
- Eat breakfast - usually eggs and toast, sometimes granola, and if I’m feeling fancy, pancakes.
- Look over to-do list for the day and prioritize.
- Exercise. I normally wake up before Christian, so this overlaps with the beginning of his schedule pretty well.
I don’t normally wear makeup, although I do love my semi-permanent eyelash extensions. I used to pay $50 every two weeks for the application, but I recently coerced Christian into applying the drugstore version (~$10 for a starter set including lashes, tweezers, and glue). They were put to the trial since we went to Six Flags the very next day, but held up remarkably well.
And my evening routine:
- Go through to-do list, prepare for tomorrow.
- Brush teeth.
- Scrub down. Usually just one washcloth needed, but if I’m particularly dirty/sweaty I might need two (one for body, one for hair).
- Put on comfies.
- Climb into bed.
Here’s Christian’s morning routine:
- Eat breakfast.
- Brush teeth.
- Do some work.
- Towel off and brush teeth.
- Apply Primal Pit Paste deodorant.
- Drink tea while journaling.
- Climb into bed.
Here’s his blurb about the no-shower method:
After going about six months without showering, I’m probably never going to shower again for the rest of my life. My skin is clear and hydrated, my hair constantly feels like it’s just been conditioned, I’ve gotten sick much less than I usually do, my seasonal allergies are almost completely gone, it only takes two minutes to get ready, and I look and smell fantastic, even when out camping for multiple days.
It was tough to get into at first, especially for the first few days, because my scalp was unbearably itchy and my hair was super oily. After about two weeks, though, the oil leveled out and I stopped noticing the itching. It’s been clear sailling since then. Even on days working outside in 105ºF Texas heat, drenched in sweat for the entire day, it just takes one extra washcloth to get clean again.
Here’s how I typically scrub down with a washcloth:
I try to make it a habit to question everything I think I know on a regular basis, and questioning the common knowledge “shower every day or you’re a filthy mountain man who probably partakes of his own pee” has been one of the most beneficial thought-experiments of this practice.
So those are our road hygiene habits! They did and would work even if we had a full bathroom, but it’s certainly much more convenient in our current living situation.