How often do you shower?
In the U.S., many of us consider daily showers a ritual that goes hand in hand with waking up in the morning. It’s right up there with finding a source of precious caffeine to get you through the day. Showering in the morning has become so routine for me that I’ve even sleepwalked my way into the shower before I realized I’m in there…
But I’m not alone. The fact that two-thirds of Americans shower on a daily basis means this is something most of us just do, sometimes without even questioning.
What if I told you it’s actually healthier to skip the daily shower? Skipping showers also conserves water. It’s basically like shutting the water off while you brush your teeth on a much larger scale!
You may be surprised to find out the concept of showering daily has much more to do with habit and assumption than health. This is a concept that goes against what our pop culture tells us, but science is already behind it.
In the early 20th century, companies began pushing hygiene in a way that both offended people and drew on their insecurities.
Believe it or not, this kind of marketing was actually effective!
Products sold like hotcakes. Meanwhile, body odor and bad breath were increasingly demonized as a threat to longevity and social life (and must surely reflect a person’s poor character).
Thus, showering daily became automatically programmed into the lives of most Americans. At that time, it was our best and only defense against B.O. until deodorants came along in the 1800's.
Nowadays, doctors, bacteriologists, cosmetologists (beauty professionals, not to be confused with cosmologists like Stephen Hawking), dermatologists, hairstylists, and many other -ists insist that people do not need to bathe so frequently. Actually, doing so can have both a negative health and environmental impact.
The biggest health issue caused by daily showering is that it strips your body of some much-needed and protective essential oils. Too much washing and scrubbing, especially in hot water, can take off your skin’s layer of oil and “good” bacteria that leaves it smooth and healthy. This can make your skin itchy, dry, or just plain irritated.
On top of that, skin that’s dry or cracked can let in bacteria and allergens that cause things like infections or allergic reactions… and–let’s be honest–who has time for that?!
Too much of a good thing like overshowering can lead to some of the same issues it sets out to solve in the first place.
Did you know that simply using antibacterial soap on your body can throw off your healthy bacteria balance?
Our bodies need different kinds of bacteria and, when we overdo it with the antibacterial soap, it paves the way for harmful bacteria with antibiotic resistance to take over. We can actually strengthen our immune systems throughout our lifetime by boosting our exposure to normal microorganisms, dirt, and other environmental factors. The American Academy of Dermatology even advises parents to bathe young children about once or twice a week to allow their immunity to build up.
We’re not advocating for you to go dumpster diving anytime soon to build your immunity. All this means is that we don’t have to revolve our lives around sudsing up every time we get a little healthy dirt on us.
Likewise, over-shampooing strips essential oils from hair, leaving it brittle and damage-prone. It also dries your scalp and causes it to produce even more oil to compensate. Not to mention, anyone who color-treats their hair can hold onto their look longer by not shampooing.
How’s that for counterintuitive?
Hand washing is mainly what prevents you from getting sick... Which means you really only need to bathe to remove odor, dead skin flakes, and dirt.
While overshowering isn’t a huge public health concern, it’s helpful to know that there’s no need for daily showering from a health perspective.
Can you imagine how much more “me” time you could pack into your week if you only showered every two or three days?
And when you consider the environment (and don’t we all), it’s amazing just how much water is saved when you skip the daily shower.
Showering takes third place for overall household water usage. If just one person in your house takes a 10-minute shower each day for a month, that’s a total of 1,049.9 liters of water and a cost of $58.27 per month (statistics are figured for averages in Minneapolis, MN. Click here to find the average shower cost in your state).
Water shortages are also becoming a major concern in places like California, which has strict regulations on wasteful water practices, and in the Gaza Strip, which is projected to possibly become uninhabitable by 2020 as a result.
From this perspective, it definitely makes sense to cut down on showering when possible.
Every body is different, so we advocate doing what’s right for you. Certain skin and hair types or conditions may require you shower at a different rate. Also, if you have a job or lifestyle that generally gets you dirtier, obviously you’ve gotta do what you gotta do.
We also know there are reasons people find it hard to slip away for even 15 minutes to shower. Whether it’s having to watch kids and hardly having a moment to yourself, not being able to bathe as often due to medical conditions or surgery, gaming, or even Netflix binging… Whatever the reason, there are many.
Just imagine what you could do if you cut out just a couple showers from your week. Time is one of our most precious resources that becomes more and more of a precious resource as we get older and have more responsibilities.
As for me, I know I’d love to catch up on some sweet self-care z’s whenever I can get them.