You strongly believe that you are among the cleanest persons you know. I am sure that you shower every day before you go to work.
I also know that you spend entire weekends inside your house.
With the same t-shirt…
Having a Star Wars marathon once again…
I’m not writing this to judge you, we ‘re in this together. That’s brilliant.
How often should you shower? Daily, right?
Well, depending on where you are the answer could actually be different.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that we have to shower twice a day every single day because that’s what decent, civilized human being does. This may actually be true if you live in a tropical country where you tend to sweat a lot and have a very active lifestyle which leaves you perspiring every single day.
But in many parts of Europe and USA the climate is remarkably different. The cooler climate and desk based jobs most people have mean that there’s a good chance many Americans and Europeans are in fact over bathing. Dr. Renella Hirsh, a Boston-based dermatologist, agrees with this and suggests that the notion of showering everyday comes from people’s desire to be perceived in a certain way.
In other words, we only shower so often because of societal norms and its a form of herd mentality that we all subject ourselves to.
Showering and bathing so often is actually a very recent phenomenon. Its also a more of a cultural phenomenon than a hygienic requirement. Showers and bath tubs as well as modern plumbing are all very recent inventions that make bathing on demand a reality. Culturally we have shifted towards a need for a daily shower due to the impression that its better for our health and social acceptance.
New York City’s Mount Sinai hospital assistant professor of dermatology, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, says that showering so often is more of a cultural phenomenon than a dermatological requirement. This could be the result of very effective advertising that began to crop up and convince people that bathing (and particularly using branded bars of soap) was the only way they could be deemed more attractive and accepted into society.
As more people began moving to desk based, office jobs and moved away from land-based agricultural work, the focus on cleanliness and attire began to gain importance.
But come on. What’s the harm showering often?
Now, you may be wondering why showering so frequently could ever be a bad thing? After all, the focus on cleanliness and personal hygiene is justified. Overdoing it could hardly be as bad as turning up to the office with foul body odor right?
Well, it’s absolutely true that you must maintain a basic level of hygiene and avoid ever smelling bad if you intend to have a job, sex or even friends. But showering too often, especially with hot water, could actually be doing you more harm than good.
Showers and soaps take away the natural bacteria that live on your skin and actually help your skin maintain itself. Your skin tends to get rough, dry and extremely irritable if you shower frequently. Even cracks to begin to develop on your skin because of this. These cracks could be making your skin more vulnerable to infections and dirt.
The natural fauna and flora or bug ecosystems that have developed on our skins over millenniums of evolution could be disturbed by a vigorous daily cleaning routine as per Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry professor of virology John Oxford.
Another problem with frequent showering is the use of towels to dry off. It’s actually recommended to air dry because towel drying can cause a lot of harm to the outer layer of your skin. If you think it’s too time consuming to air dry every time you shower however, consider using a softer towel with better material to use.
Another adverse effect of showering is the reckless amounts of water required for it. Environmentalists suggest that if we all cut back on the number of showers we take we can collectively save millions of gallons of water every single year which could be used in so many more efficient ways.
And what about washing my hair often then?
The same goes for shampoo. The serum in your hair could be adversely affected by the foaming agents present in most mainstream shampoos. These ingredients make your hair frizzy and dried out.
No comment here from me.
One minor exception – Your hands
So it’s pretty evident that showering too frequently is causing a little but of trouble on the outer most layer of your skin. So washing less frequently could actually give your skin’s natural maintenance a substantial boost. But there’s one part of your body that comes into contact with a massively greater number of objects throughout the day and may need way more cleaning than usual – your hands (here’s Captain Obvious once again).
Hands tend to be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria (the bad kind) primarily because they make contact with so many more surfaces. The Hygiene Council in the United Kingdom found that a lot of people wash their hands less than five times a day. This means that hands actually have more germs than toilet seats!
If you’ve decided to cut back on showering a bit that’s okay as long as you pay attention to washing your hands multiple times every single day.
The bottom line
So what’s the verdict on showering and cleaning up every day or twice a day?
It’s not actually needed and if you believe your skin is not that oily or the climate of the country you live in allows for washing less and still feeling clean then by all means cut back on the number of washes you have. Just make sure you wash your hands more frequently and use good quality shampoo and towels for the times that you do wash.
Pay attention to your body’s chemistry and see how it reacts to less washing. Try to skip a shower every other day at first. Some might find that showering and thoroughly cleaning once a week is more than enough for their lifestyle and level of activity.
At the end of the day its a personal choice and if you think you might be uncomfortable without your daily wash then go for it but try not to use as many products or hot water in this case.