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I Didn't Shower for 30 Days — Here's What I Learned

Photo Credit: Anetlanda/Shutterstock

It was only Day 10, and yet the smell radiating from my armpits as I tossed around in my grimy sheets was enough to make even sewer rats pause. I cringed hard and slammed my grease-stained pillow, knowing I would have to confidently interview A-list celebrities this week, smelling like week-old garbage and without an ounce of makeup or dry shampoo. The thought was mortifying, but I had made a commitment. Stupid, I thought over and over to myself at the time. And I still had 20 days to go.

My editor-in-chief and I had committed to going 30 days without showering in order to test the scientific theory that our skin biomes would come to the rescue, naturally cleansing and cleaning the skin — leading to a glowy and smooth complexion. While the test of time would prove we were onto something, at that moment, my skin and stench looked and smelled like roadkill.

The Early Days of No Showering

The rules were simple: no beauty products, no smell-pretty products, NO SHOWERS. For sanitary purposes, we were allowed to brush our teeth and wash our hands after using the bathroom, and every three days we were allowed to rinse our armpits and other sensitive areas with water. But that was it.

As beauty editors, we were used to testing and slathering on hundreds of beauty products regularly, so initially I embraced the break with open arms. But needless to say, the beginning of what would feel like a long journey was exactly what you’d expect.

By Day 2, the body odor started to settle in, and to make matters worse for me in particular, I worked out every day.

By Day 4, I had bravely worn a tank top to work to help “air things out,” and was immediately instructed by coworkers to put on a layer. The odor was so strong that I put panty liners in my leather jacket to protect the fabric from the odor. Panty liners. And to make matters worse, my skin was starting to react, and not in the way we so blissfully thought it would. Cystic acne reared its ugly head and made a debut across my sad face, where it would take residence for the next two weeks. Without the shield of makeup or deodorant, my self-conscious insecurities skyrocketed, and I didn’t want to do anything but hide out in my apartment.

But unfortunately for me, I still had a job to do.

Interviewing Halsey and Brittany Snow

I begged my editor-in-chief to let someone else interview the two starlets slated on my calendar for Days 11 and 13 of no showering. But with a playful evil grin, she said “It was part of the experiment.”

The things we do for a good story.

Halsey was up first, and she happens to have been (and still is) one of my favorite artists. I wore a quarter-sleeve black dress and jacket in hopes of containing the stench.

Much to my surprise, Halsey didn’t blink an eye, or at least, she didn’t indicate her secret disgust to me in person — and trust me, I was looking for subtle cues. Her interview carried on cheerfully as she dived into her childhood past with talks of her parents’ fights, and her mother’s habit of “pulling herself together and putting on lipstick” at the close of a heated argument — a story that related to her MAC makeup partnership at the time. In that moment, I wished I could cope as her mother had.

Jessica Amaris pictured with Halsey.

Brittany Snow, however, was a completely different story. A couple days later, I met the Pitch Perfect star at a boutique on Rodeo Drive, where the poor woman did her best to stifle a scrunched nose. By this point, my hair was tightly wound into a half-bun to hide the seaweed-like texture of my greasy scalp and strands, but the smell was oh-so-ripe. Bravely asking for a selfie with Snow, it was clear in the picture she was leaning as far away from me as she possibly could without seeming rude.

Jessica Amaris pictured with Brittany Snow.

I went home mortified that this would forever be a celebrity's impression of me — ‘cause girl, there was no way she forgot that smell.

The Turning Point and Epiphany

As the days progressed and the smell worsened, I avoided friends and nights out, and told my then-long distance boyfriend at the time to wait to visit. Coworkers booked conference rooms on the other side of the office to avoid me (seriously), and my confidence was at an all-time low.

But then something happened.

My skin began to take a turn. The acne started to disappear and, like a phoenix, a glowing complexion emerged from the ashes of dandruffy skin. My editor-in-chief also reported that her lifelong psoriasis had all but disappeared. A revelation also followed.

Our story also went viral, which means I would forever be known as the girl that didn’t shower for 30 days — but to this day, it still makes for a great icebreaker.

Over the course of the month, I had spent more time focusing my energy on things that mattered to me, because I had the time. In losing my drive to “look the part” as a beauty editor (and a young woman in her 20s living in L.A.), I started to put those extra hours into myself with personal writing, fitness, and spending more time outside in nature (something I need). I realized just how much time and energy caring about my appearance had stolen from me in the past.

I also realized how many beauty products I use on the daily and how completely unnecessary they were. My skin was LITERALLY glowing on its own, and while I would’ve given anything just to smell good, as far as outward appearances go, the beauty industry suddenly didn’t have a thing on me.

So when that 30-day no-showering journey came to a close, I was a mix of happy and sad. Gone were the days of “not caring” and having so much more time to myself, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to get some much-needed soap on this bod. Our story also went viral, which means I would forever be known as the girl that didn’t shower for 30 days — but to this day, it still makes for a great icebreaker.

While there is nothing wrong with loving makeup, skin care, or any other beauty product, when I stripped away the layers of beauty standards (that came in the form of products) that society had put on me, Mother Nature revealed to me what truly makes us gorgeous.

It’s your passions, visions, goals, and the love you have for yourself and others that need your attention. And why wouldn’t they? They make you who you are, and THAT is what makes you truly beautiful.

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