Getting Dirty…Again

I warned you last autumn that I’d try the 50% Dirtier Challenge this spring. And here we are! Spring. So let’s talk.

The 50% Dirtier Challenge is simply a fun little challenge with two goals (that you will, no doubt, hear me repeat again and again):

1. To encourage people to become more familiar and comfortable with their bodies, including the way you smell, the way your hair feels and how your skin feels when you shower less.

2. To make people aware of their water usage. Once you start noticing your usage in one area (in this case, showers), it is inevitable that you’ll become more aware of your water usage in other areas, as well.

Now, you may feel that you are plenty comfortable with your body and/or that you are a water-conserving maniac. However…please consider participating, anyway. For one thing, it’s always more fun to do something as a big, crazy group (LOL). For another, even I (and I already don’t shower often and am extremely committed to conserving water) have learned from the last 50% Dirtier Challenge – and my shower routine has reflected that. I’ll discuss more about this later, but for now, let’s just get down to the nitty-gritty.

What this challenge is all about.

I chose the name “50% Dirtier” simply because the ultimate goal of the challenge is to cut back on your showering by 50%. If you choose to go this route (and there are other alternatives I will describe in a moment), you can either cut the time of your shower in half, or you can shower half as often. Many people (including me) love long showers, and don’t want to give that up – so don’t. Just try showering, say, every other day, instead of once a day (or once a day instead of twice a day, etc.). Or, if you really feel the need to shower every day, time yourself (you’d be surprised how few people actually know how long they spend in the shower – I didn’t even know until I did this challenge last year!), then make a commitment to cut back to half that time for your subsequent showers during the month of May.

Now I realize that this doesn’t necessarily work for everyone for any number of reasons. But please don’t let that stop you! You can customize this challenge any way you want. Commit to trying it for one week (or heck, one weekend), instead of one month. Keep your regular shower routine, but wash your hair less often. Cut back on your shower time by 1/3 or 1/4. You can do anything you want – you don’t need to hit the 50% goal. Just try!

Make it a challenge and really get dirty.

This should be fun, but also challenging. The only actual rule is that you must set a goal that is a genuine challenge for you. Not necessarily super hard – but a comfortable challenge. Remember the goals of this challenge: to become more aware of your water usage (and potentially to learn to get by on less), and to become more comfortable with your body, just the way it is – sans constant scrubbing and shampooing!

Yes, get dirty! This is, in my opinion, the hardest part of the challenge. If you have followed Five Seed for a while, then you know I think the beauty industry pushes us to over-wash ourselves – something I think isn’t healthy for our skin or hair. I’m sure many of you have heard that washing your hair every single day strips it of its natural oils. The same is true of our skin. However, this “over-cleaning” of our bodies is deeply ingrained in our culture. I have written about this a lot in the past, so I won’t get into detail here, except to say that I know how hard it is to shower less often. It can be very uncomfortable for people. Every time I’ve experimented with showering or washing less often, it always pushes me out of my comfort zone. It’s hard to step outside of our habitual patterns (even those involving our beauty routine) and let our hair get a little dirty, or not jump into the shower the moment we break a sweat. We literally feel dirty, or gross. I think many of us even worry that everyone around us notices the slightest change in our routine and that they are judging us for being dirty, sloppy or lazy.

As uncomfortable as it may be, this is such a rich time to start exploring our thoughts, assumptions and habitual behavior. For instance: What really constitutes being “dirty?” Are you really dirty, or are you just experiencing different sensations in your body as it re-balances itself? Is sweat dirty? Are your natural scents truly unappealing or are you just used to smelling like soap all the time? I think these are serious and important questions to consider if you are trying to work in harmony with your body.

If you really give this challenge a genuine effort, I truly believe it will change you – maybe a little, maybe a lot. I certainly did not think there was much further I could explore, being careful about water conservation and having only showered every other day for years. But the last challenge did changed things for me. I committed to try to shower every third day, or to cut my usual 12-minute showers back to 6 minutes when I couldn’t go three days. Both of those goals were extremely uncomfortable for me – at first. I look back now and laugh, though, because I started showering every third day, for the most part, without thinking about it, once the challenge ended.

My goal.

I, like many, love my super long showers, so I’m choosing to shower less often this time around. During the last challenge, I pointed out that showering 50% less than my usual every-other-day shower would leave me showering every fourth day – something I couldn’t fathom! However…I have experimented with it for two weeks in preparation for this challenge and……..that’s what I’m going to do! I have found a better dry shampoo than the mixture I used last year, and I’m all set to get seriously dirty!!

Setting your goals.

Now please remember, this challenge doesn’t mean you can’t wash yourself at all! You can keep your regular facial routine, and use a good old soapy washcloth for cleaning out any areas that might get a little sweaty and/or stinky. Sponge baths are absolutely allowed and are surprisingly effective! You may also choose to go back to your usual routine during your moon time, which is fine – just re-join the challenge when you can.

The point is, no matter where you fall on the spectrum, there’s always a new path to explore that will lead you to unexpected places. So please leave your 50% Dirtier Challenge goals here in the comments section. Remember, you can make any goal you want, that fits your needs and lifestyle. Just try to make it a little bit of a challenge!

Let’s get dirty!

You can read more about last year’s challenge here.

Stay tuned – I’ll try to get a button up for those of you who want to use it on your blog. If you don’t want to wait, you can copy the above picture and just link it to this post.