If your routine is getting up and jumping in the shower before work, then hitting the gym in the evening and taking another shower, you're going to want to read this. If you've ever wondered if it's bad to take two or more showers a day, science suggests that too much time in the shower could be doing your body more harm than good. While not showering on the regular might sound super gross, showering too much can actually strip your body of healthy bacteria. "There's compelling indirect evidence to suggest that showering damages your microbiome on your skin, which in turn damages your skin health," Rafi Letzter reported for Business Insider.
There were definitely times in my life when I showered a lot more than I do now. I was a lifeguard in college, so I showered before work, and again after I left the pool before heading to my second job as a bartender. And, all of this showering did a number on my hair and skin. Now, I work from home, and I don't shower every day. I also only wash my hair with shampoo once a week, and I have to admit that my hair and skin have never looked better. Not convinced? Atlantic reporter James Hamblin stopped showering altogether.
What started as an experiment for Hamblin turned into a way of life. He wrote that while at first he was super smelly from forgoing regular showers, his body eventually regulated itself and any foul odors disappeared. "Applying detergents (soaps) to our skin and hair every day disrupts a sort of balance between skin oils and the bacteria that live on our skin," Hamblin explained. "When you shower aggressively, you obliterate the ecosystems. They repopulate quickly, but the species are out of balance and tend to favor the kinds of microbes that produce odor. But after a while, the idea goes, your ecosystem reaches a steady state, and you stop smelling bad."
Now, Hamblin doesn't shower at all. Instead he noted that he still washes his hands, because that's important to halt the spread of disease. And, he also explained, "I still rinse off elsewhere when I’m visibly dirty, like after a run when I have to wash gnats off my face, because there is still the matter of society. If I have bed head, I lean into the shower and wet it down. But I don’t use shampoo or body soap, and I almost never get into a shower."
What's more, Letzer reported that, "A study of the people of Yanomami village in the Amazon, who had 'no documented previous contact with Western people' found their skin, mouths, and feces hosted the richest complement of bacteria in any human population examined until that point — a complement that included antibiotic-resistant species, despite no known contact with antibiotics."
While not showering to achieve optimum health sounds counterintuitive, daily showering is actually a pretty recent phenomenon, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola's blog. He noted that people in developed societies take between 5-12 showers a week, which was virtually unheard of 100 years ago. And, it's no surprise that the obsession with showering began to increase when products to keep people clean started to be marketed regularly.
It seems, the more products you use, the more products you need. Too much soap dries out your skin, which makes you reach for lotion and oils. Too much showering can also cause acne, and you need additional products to fight that. "Advertising and toilet soap grew up together," Gizmodo reporter Sarah Zhang quoted Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Dirt on Clean, as saying. "As advertising exploded in the early 20th century, so did our obsession with personal hygiene."
Stopping showering altogether is not something most people are willing to do, and I'm right there with you. However, the body's return to its natural state explains how all of the characters on LOST were hooking up with each other despite not showering on the regular after their plane crash. So, the good thing is that if you do get stranded on a desert island, you'll probably be just fine if you go the rest of your life without a shower. #TheMoreYouKnow
If your skin and hair are feeling dry and itchy, it could be from too much showering. And, if you are taking two or more showers a day, it might be time to consider cutting down. You're probably going to want to take a shower after going to the gym, and I totally get it. Perhaps take that shower, and forgo the morning shower. At first, it's going to feel super weird, and probably a little uncomfortable, to not shower in the morning if this is part of your regular routine. However, over time, you and your body will get used to it.
Plus, think of all of the extra time you'll have. Hamblin reported that if you live to be 100 years old, and you spend just 20 minutes a day washing your body, that adds up to 12,167 hours — more than a year — spent in the shower. And, that's just the average. Many of us spend a lot more time than that washing up. The bottom line? Getting an hour of your day back to sleep, or just chill out, is going to do you a whole lot more good than taking an extra shower.