Are soaps and shampoos really needed? A Reader’s words of experience

While revealing about his experiments with soaps and shampoos, Mr Vin, a regular reader and Ayurveda enthusiast reveals cool facts about skincare and has shared his words of wisdom and experience with us. Let us listen.

“My father had been suffering from fungus all over his body for around 8 years. He tried allopathic treatment for around 5 years with absolutely no change. He then gave up for the next 3 years.(He had no idea that ayurvedic medicines can cure his condition). He then visited ayurvedic doctor some 8 months ago and most of his fungus has gone away today after around 6-8 months of treatment!!

Apart from the oils and medicines to be taken internally, one big change was he stopped soap!!.

soaps  shampoo

In fact 8 months back even i started to develop fungus(my age is 23) and i also immediately stopped soap. Prior to this 7 years back i started developing acne and had to use benzoyl peroxide cream everyday to control outbursts. (I pity not using ayurvedic system that time because i had no idea!).

At same time I also developed very severe dandruff and had to use medicinal shampoo everyday(ZPTO) to control dandruff. Then 8 months back I went for ayurvedic treatment and 90% of dandruff was gone within 2 days after using dhurdhurapatradi tailam!!! But still 10% dandruff was there as i used to wash off the oil with commercial shampoo. then 2 months back I stopped commercial shampoo and switched to shikakai powder + chigare powder to wash off the oil and within 2 days all my dandruff was gone. Almost like magic!!

From my personal experience and from many blogs of a few ayurvedic doctors I have read on net I can say that soap and shampoo are no good for skin or even health. Although soaps and shampoo are made from oils their pH is changed by adding Sodium hydroxide or Potassium hydroxide, so they are more salt or alkali like rather than oil like. They also contain detergents/surfactants like sodium laureth sulphate which are poisonous for the skin.

One very golden advice I read from an ayurvedic doctor is that :-


In other words since you can’t eat soap/shampoo or other commercial cosmetics you should not use them on skin as they will eventually enter into the bloodstream. Oils can be eaten and hence can be used on skin, and also outer most layer is fat in body so oil is the best.

Actually it is experiences like this that are turning more and more people towards Ayurveda. Dermatology is one field where Ayurveda is way ahead than modern medicine.

Actually some benefits of stopping soap are that body odour is almost completely eliminated. I read from another ayurvedic doctor that Body Odour is one type of Ama. Also complexion is improved by stopping soap. But most important change i have felt is tolerance to heat and cold. I hardly used fan this summer even though maximum temperature was consistently around 35 Degrees Centigrade.

Note: I would like to add that many ayurvedic companies nowadays are selling soaps and shampoos. While these maybe slightly better than commercial soaps and shampoos since they use ayurvedic active ingredients they are also no good for skin or body since they use ingredients like NaOH, KOH, and are best to be avoided.

Also would like to add that there are some soaps which maybe good for body if they are produced from natural alkalis instead of commercial NaOH. But these are only usually produced in middle east where soap is produced using traditional processes and methods.

I personally feel soaps and shampoo and other commercial cosmetics must be completely avoided.

My Comments: 

We are really sold out the idea of soaps and shampoos, to the extent that we think we can not live without it. But surely we can.

Hair powder can be made to have fragrance by adding jasmine petals, lotus petals, and such other flowers.

Soapnut gives natural frothing.

All that these shampoos do is just wash off the dandruff better and I really doubt about their scalp healing efficacy.

This applies even to shampoos that are sold as herbal and Ayurvedic.

The fact of the matter about Ayurvedic Shampoo and Ayurvedic soap  is, since they are sold under Ayurvedic label, the company gets tax benefits.  This is true, at least in India.

Just adding a very low level of herbal concentrate / extract to soap or shampoo does not make the product Ayurvedic.

Even the same theory can also be applied to tooth pastes. Herbal powders with neem, licorice, acacia, clove etc make a far superior tooth powder than anything that is available in the market.

The theory of what you can not eat, can’t be applied to skin – has some limitations, but can be widely accepted as a general statement.

Not using or less use of air conditioner is really very important. We must stay as close to the external atmosphere as possible. However, this does not apply to people with Pitta dominance.

35 comments on “Are soaps and shampoos really needed? A Reader’s words of experience

  • Purush

    16/05/2012 - 9:50 pm

    When you say that we must stay as close to the external atmosphere as possible and this does not apply to people with Pitta dominance, does that mean that persons with Pitta dominance should avoid external atmosphere and stay in enclosed spaces/AC rooms? Kindly clarify.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      16/05/2012 - 10:57 pm

      If you are very sensitive to slight increase in temperature, (as is the case with people having Pitta body type), it is better for them to use air conditioner during extreme summers. If they also try to ‘stay close to nature’ they may develop extreme symptoms like nasal bleeding, skin eruptions, heart burns, burning urination etc.

      Reply to comment
  • sarita

    17/05/2012 - 1:17 am

    When you say just use oils on body, how are we supposed to clean or get rid of the oil other than soap or some kind of of besan powder.

    I cannot use any besan on my skin as I break out, so what do you suggest.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      17/05/2012 - 8:40 am

      If only a very small amount of oil is applied, it will go away with warm water.
      Besan powder is the next best choice.
      There are also different herbal powder mixes, which can be used for bathing. I will cover them shortly.
      One such powder is Nalpamaradi choornam

      Reply to comment
  • binsurobinson

    17/05/2012 - 10:46 am

    other than besan powder what do u suggest to use on body as ayurvedic alternative to soaps ?

    Reply to comment
  • Priya

    17/05/2012 - 12:33 pm

    Can besan be used all over the body including parts like the anal area?

    Reply to comment
  • Ashraf

    17/05/2012 - 5:06 pm

    What about Medimix ayurvedic soap? their ingredient list shows many ayurvedic herbals

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      17/05/2012 - 5:29 pm

      Same case. They probably prepare an oil out of the listed herbal ingredients and use it along with other chemicals that are usually used to make a standard soap.

      Reply to comment
      • vin

        18/05/2012 - 12:56 am

        regarding companies like Medimix, Nagarjuna making soaps, i think it is a good thing as their soaps are much more better than completely synthetic soaps of other companies which use stuff like mineral oil(made from petroleum). But still even their soaps contain lot of synthetic ingredients and are harmful for the skin.

        It is up to the people to stop buying these things like soap,shampoo.

        Reply to comment
  • Pradeep Kumar

    17/05/2012 - 8:09 pm

    What is your opinion in using “INCHHA”, which is a crushed bark of a tree(said as such in malayalam), for taking bath, along with fine powder of green gram?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      28/05/2012 - 4:03 pm

      Incha that you are referring to may be an Ayurvedic herb for “Khadira”. It is very useful for skin and can be used along with green gram powder for taking bath.

      Reply to comment
  • Rajesh

    17/05/2012 - 11:59 pm

    Thanks, for this article. away from this topic – As all vegetarian people suffer from b12 deficiency, can you kindly write an article on this.

    Reply to comment
  • vin

    18/05/2012 - 12:19 am

    I am privileged that you took a patient’s testimonial and accepted the facts, because such things are very much frowned upon by modern medical establishment. Such evidences are usually called as anecdotal evidence and unless things like double blind/ placebo are carried out patient testimony is usually never accepted as fact.

    Here is a fresh change where the doctor is able to use his intelligence and experience/knowledge to figure out whether the testimonial is coincidence or actual evidence. I’ve read some testimonials where patients linked things like over consumption of garlic to blood cancer in this website and you were quick to point out that such things may be coincidence.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      18/05/2012 - 10:21 am

      There are three things that I consider.
      1. The statements in my website should add value to the quality of life and health of the readers.
      2. Should clarify doubts of the readers.
      3. Should NOT mislead them into believing something which is a myth. The decision of whether a statement is myth or truth, I try to make it with whatever knowledge resource I have.

      So, anything that is passes through with above criteria, either created by me or by my reader, gets published. Which is not, does not get published.
      There are many times that I start writing an article and in the mid way, I think that this may mislead the reader and then I dump that article.

      Reply to comment
  • vin

    18/05/2012 - 12:26 am

    regarding soap, I think soaps manufactured using traditional processes in middle eastern countries like Syria,Lebanon may actually be good for skin where they use natural alkalis instead of NaOH,KOH. But these are speciality soaps and are usually very expensive, very few in number and only made in these countries. Same way maybe if soaps are made using Ksharas instead of NaOH,KOH they maybe good for skin, but i think such things are unnecessary as the cost of plain Teel Oil itself is quite high and making soaps with these methods will push the price out of the budget of the middle class person.

    Reply to comment
  • vin

    18/05/2012 - 1:08 am

    Regarding the functions of soap, i.e to remove Body Odour, dirt and improve complexion, i think soap does the exact opposite of these things.

    Regarding Body odour it just temporarily masks the body odour with synthetic fragrances which lasts maybe a few hours after which the body starts producing Body Odour due to soap. I think an ayurvedic expert will be better able to explain why soap causes body odour. from what i know i think body produces Body odour because all the natural body oils are stripped from the skin by the soap and this disturbs the natural equilibrium of the skin. Hebbar sir can give better explanation for this i think.

    Regarding oil, after switching from soap to oil i experienced a big increase in body odour and skin stickiness for about 10 days, which i think was a good thing as the body was rejecting toxins from the skin. But after around 20 days to 1 month after switching from soap to oil Body odour completely disappeared. Skin stickiness also was completely gone.

    Reply to comment
    • Rai

      09/10/2021 - 12:01 pm

      Can you explain how you used the oil to clean your body? Any details of your routine would be appreciated.

      Reply to comment
    • Rai

      09/10/2021 - 12:02 pm

      Can you explain how you use oil to clean your body? Any detail of your routine will be appreciated.

      Reply to comment
  • vin

    18/05/2012 - 1:38 am

    i agree with your view on air conditioning.
    From what i have observed i think most people are only able to bear temperatures in the range 22-26 degree Celsius. Meaning that they need fan/AC above 27 Degree Celsius and sweater below 22 !!. This is a very bad scenario. Ideally as human temperature is around 37/38 Degree Celsius, Humans must be able to tolerate the range from 5/10 Degree Celsius to 40 Degree Celsius with minimal effort like a sweater or a fan, as this is the range in which plant life flourishes.

    Also air coolers must be encouraged instead of Air conditioners as this is the natural and healthy way of cooling using water(But air cooler works only in dry heat, not coastal humid heat)

    Also i read in many Kerala Ayurvedic sites that the humid climate of coastal India is favourable for oil massage and sweating naturally cools the body. Hence i think humid heat is less dangerous to the body than dry heat.

    Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    17/06/2012 - 9:04 pm

    Besan powder is traditionally used many household for infants. No problem.

    Reply to comment
  • Sandy

    06/10/2014 - 3:29 pm

    Doctor Hebbar,

    Can you add some more articles with respect to natural way of body cleansing and hair wash. I have seen your few articles with respect to the above topics.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      06/10/2014 - 4:19 pm

      Sure. But it will take around 2 more months before I get there.

      Reply to comment
  • savitha

    07/06/2015 - 1:46 pm

    Is it possible to write an article on herbal hair wash powder .

    Reply to comment
  • anita nair

    19/01/2017 - 3:45 pm

    What is chigare powder called in malayalam?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      17/02/2017 - 4:21 pm

      It is called Arappu in Tamil. Not sure about its Malayalam name.

      Reply to comment
  • T.S.Rajan

    22/04/2018 - 12:34 pm

    Om. I have gathered many useful information from your correspondence with the readers. Please continue, God help you disseminate your knowledge for the welfare of the general public.
    I will write later about my experience with TOOTH PASTES. .

    Reply to comment
  • brijesh bagga

    22/04/2018 - 4:27 pm

    i use the traditional french soap costs $12 each and a soap name 63 even those are not good

    Reply to comment
  • Suma

    27/04/2018 - 8:39 am

    Hello Doctor, Besan powders for bath can be used in cold countries and cold weather?
    Is it good to apply thin layer of oil soon after bath?

    Reply to comment
  • Suma

    02/05/2018 - 2:10 pm

    Thank you, Doctor.

    Reply to comment

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