What could you do without for 40 days and 40 nights? Not food, not sleep. Give up sex? Maybe. The question is, could you do what Nicky Taylor did? The 42-year-old woman (no relation to the '90s megamodel) went for that long with no cosmetics or toiletries. That means no shampoo, no toothpaste, no deodorant, no makeup—and no showering, either.
Taylor, a documentary filmmaker, was used to spending £2,000 (around $4,000) per year on beauty products. Disgusted by her high levels of consumption and concerned about the number of chemicals that were going on her skin, she decided to try an experiment: For 40 days, she'd throw her grooming routine out the window. She explains:
"I always think I look absolutely terrible if I haven't washed my hair that morning, when the reality is that other people don't really notice at all," she says. "The idea that we need all these products and that we have to be clean at all times is endemic in society, and I wanted to see what happened when I stopped washing altogether. Would I lose all my friends? Would I stink to high heaven? Or would life just carry on as normal?
To find out what happened,
Right away: To protect the health of her children, she wore latex gloves when preparing their food. And at first, the lack of primping freed up time for her to sleep in. But then...
Day 4: Taylor begins to stink, and her hair is greasy. "Within a few days it turned into a bird's nest and instead of allowing it to fall flatteringly around my face, I'd taken to pulling it all back into a ponytail," she said.
Week 2: Taylor's children refuse to hug her because of the stench. Surprisingly, though, she isn't treated abnormally at a work event.
Week 3: "My toenails were turning a strange color and I'd developed dry, peeling skin on my hands."
Week 4: Taylor's skin developed a healthy glow, and a cyst near her eye disappeared. On the other hand, a dentist told her that she could lose her teeth if she kept up this non-routine.
Week 5:"My hair was so greasy that it stayed in its ponytail position even when the hair band wasn't there. And my teeth were horribly discoloured and covered in a build-up of plaque."
Week 6: Although she had 5,000 times the bacteria she did before embarking on this experiment, none of the bacteria were dangerous. She did, however, have a cavity. Overall, while Taylor was glad to be able to shower, she believes that most people don't notice your grooming as much as you think they do.
What do you think? Personally, I'm not about to give up showering anytime soon, but I see what she's getting at. I used to wash my hair every day, but now I wash it every other day or so. Nobody seems to be able to tell, and my hair is healthier and less dry than it used to be. Still, you won't catch me going without a good tooth-brushing anytime soon.