How often should you shower?
It’s probably not what you would expect, and no, the answer isn’t “depends on how much you work out.”
I just feel off if I don’t start my day with a hot shower.
My morning suds session gives me energy and keeps from being self-conscious about any off-putting odors that are potentially emanating out of my body. However, it turns out that a bit of B.O. is better for my skin and body — even if it’s a bit off-putting to anyone else around me.
“I just wash my bits and rush out in the morning,” designer Vivienne Westwood said in a recent interview, adding that she only cleans her whole body once a week, most of the time with her partner’s dirty bathwater.
She’s onto something, according to some experts.
“I think showering is mostly for aesthetic reasons,” Dr. Elaine Larson, an infectious disease expert and associate dean for research at Columbia University School of Nursing, told Time in 2016. “People think they’re showering for hygiene or to be cleaner, but bacteriologically, that’s not the case.”
Dousing our bodies with harsh antibacterial cleansers and exfoliators on the regular can actually dry out and crack your skin — and they don’t work any better than regular old soap and plain water. What’s worse: Stripping our bodies of of bacteria disrupts our body’s microbiome, possibly leading to more infection and other diseases because the good guys are in the drain and not on our bodies to fight troublemakers off.
So, how often should you shower?
It turns out I’m wrong with my once- or twice-a-day shower habits. How often should you shower? Only once or twice a week. “Your body is naturally a well-oiled machine,” Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University, told Time. “A daily shower isn’t necessary.”
Instead, focus on hitting the parts that collect the most smells and dirt: Your groin, armpits and hands.
The same goes for our hair: Really oily hair might need two or three washings a week, but the rest of us can stand for once-a-week shampooing — especially those dealing with dandruff.
The transition isn’t an fresh one, though.
“People began asking if I’d ‘done something new’ with my hair, which turned a full shade darker for being coated in oil that my scalp wouldn’t stop producing,” journalist Julia Scott wrote in a piece for The New York Times Magazine in 2014. She swapped her showers for using products by AOBiome designed to restore her body’s natural bacteria.
“I slept with a towel over my pillow and found myself avoiding parties and public events. Mortified by my body odor, I kept my arms pinned to my sides, unless someone volunteered to smell my armpit. One friend detected the smell of onions.”
Is smelling of onions a good tradeoff for healthy skin? I’m not so sure, but I’m going to try it.