Tuesday, September 11, 2007

11 September: Cleanliness is next to something or other

Last night there was an interesting programme on TV (for a change), called "How dirty can I get?"

For those of you who dashed into the kitchen straight after Nigella's bit, in order to curry scallops (oh dear, scallops need to be ordered a week in advance), mash some beans in garlic (can't have food tasting of itself when there's coriander or garlic about), or whip up a melted marshmallow (yuk) - it involved a woman, and a peripheral man, not washing themselves or their clothes for 6 weeks.

Partly triggered by concern over the number of chemicals in washing products and cosmetics, the scheme was rather a confusion between basic washing and applying cosmetics and lotions for other purposes. One of the aims was to see if her hair would "self clean" after a few weeks, and to illustrate that she went to visit Matthew Parris, who says he hasn't washed his hair for years. Actually I would suspect that he washes it with water, but not with shampoo, which is quite a different matter, but it wasn't specified. When my hair was really short, it was washed with water only, and that was fine.

There was lots of armpit sniffing, and extremely graphic problems with the man's underparts, plus visits to people living in tents in the woods (and of course doing what bears do in the woods - in the woods), and the production of a "perfume" to match her body odour; amusingly, this was taken to be inspected by a number of perfume experts, of whom only one correctly identified it.

One person in a laboratory stated that breast cancer is much more often found in the area near the armpit, and chemicals in deodorants were suspected as the cause. There were allegations about ingredients in many skin creams and cosmetics, and the 'cocktail effect' of them. This was all very unsettling or alarmist, depending on your point of view - but who would pay for research to find out?

The results of the whole experiment were not very clearly stated, but it seemed that neither participant had an unusually high number of bacteria on their skin. But the woman said that she felt healthier - her skin certainly looked better than at the start.

But there's a big difference between basic hygiene and the use of oceans of lotions.

Keeping your body, teeth, clothes, and home fairly clean (without getting obsessive about it) seems a sensible thing to do, but using dozens of preparations on your skin seems like asking for trouble. There has never seemed to be any point in scrupulously removing all trace of natural oil from your skin, then putting some greasy artificial stuff back on it. You may gather that I am not a fan of face creams or cosmetics - they make me want to wash.

Apropos washing, though - at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, one of our neighbours was power-washing his block paved drive. He appeared to be doing it all day, and was still out there with the gear in the evening. As this is the man who washes his cars very thoroughly every weekend at least once, perhaps it wasn't surprising. Well, everyone needs a hobby, and at least it gets him out of the house, and away from her indoors. Anyway, now they are parking the cars on the pavement, presumably so as not to get the nice clean drive dirty.

Oh, and on the news, Our Leader seemed to want us to believe that pay rises to public servants are the cause of inflation - it has nothing to do with big pay rises or gigantic bonuses in the private sector.

Is is me?


herhimnbryn said...

Thanks for this. I can't imagine not washing during our Summers here! Mind you in the Winter the shower room is so cold, I would willingly keep away.

KAZ said...

I don't like face creams but I can't face the day without something to cover up my face.

Oh and my ex husband never cleans his teeth and never ever needs any fillings or dental work. It's like those people who smoke 40 a day and never get lung cancer.

I suppose we're all different - like Gordon and his opinions.

I, like the view said...

one of my friends once did an experiment with her face

she used water on a flannel on one half for a month and some potion or other on the other side. . .

needless to say she had more spots on the potion side after the month and has stuck to water and a flannel ever since

she has skin to die for!

Bob the Bolder said...

Try it — you'll find that if you stop using soap and shampoo and simply rinse off with plain water in your daily shower, your hair and skin will improve a lot.

At first it takes 4 to 7 days for your body to get over the shock.

Then your skin stops producing the grease it used to, and deodorants are unnecessary.

I haven't "washed" since 1992. Have I lost friends? Only for other reasons.

stitchwort said...

herhimbryn - a nice tin bath in front of the fire?

kaz - now we're back to the veil again. The ex probably never goes to the dentist anyway.

iltv - I always reckoned it was the flannel that was the problem with spots, and prefer to wash my face with my hands.

bob - hello! That appeals to my parsimonious streak - mind you, if you smell me from there, let me know.

Z said...

I'm afraid I'm just too terrifying to behold without makeup, and water alone won't clean that off.

I'm not sure what's happened to Nigella - she seems to have developed a scary and unnatural grin when she used to look cheerful and flirty.

Bob the Bolder said...

What I said before is indeed true — for 15 years I've taken exactly no bottles into the shower, and things are better for it.

You can't get away of course without soap for routine hand-washing.

But you certainly don't need shaving-gunk — under a warm plain-water shower bristles get well wetted and soft enough for any old cheapo disposable razor.

Naturally, the commercial imperative of the toiletry industry is to convince you otherwise.

Don't be fooled! Chuck their junk. You'll save money and have the warm smug feeling of sticking two fingers up to them.

Do it! Because you're worth it!