Science Says You're Taking Too Many Showers (Are You?)
My morning just doesn't start without a cup of coffee and an incredibly hot shower. There's nothing better than sloughing off sleep with a dose of warm, cleansing water. Except, as scientists are pointing out, our habit of showering daily isn't exactly the healthiest choice. Though it feels great, if you have a shower-a-day habit like I do, you're showering all wrong.
Our compulsion to hop in the shower every day—or even multiple times—isn't written into our DNA. Instead, it's simply a cultural habit, one that doctors argue isn't doing as much for our bodies and cleanliness as we think.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, assistant professor of dermatology Dr. Joshua Zeichner and dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch discussed the problematic side effects of showering daily. While Hirsch remarks that we (i.e., Americans), as a culture, are "over-bathing," Zeichner points out that we think we're dirtier than we actually are.
Thanks to great advertising and a gullible audience, cleanliness and our need to shower frequently took off in popularity after the Civil War. With promises of greater beauty (and, of course, success in all areas of life), soap and showering took off, and became a staple of daily life.
If you're worried about the state of your skin, Zeichner and Hirsch don't recommend getting in the shower every day. In fact, too much of that steamy, wonderfully hot water dries out our skin and removes good bacteria—the bacteria we need to keep our body healthy and warding off greater infection. With drier skin, you open yourself to the possibility of cracked skin, and expose yourself to gross, unhealthy bacteria.
Though your shower regimen should depend on what it is, exactly, that you do every day, Zeichner and Hirsch recommend showering every two to three days. If you're more active, and prone to sweaty activities, you may need to shower more often. If you're a fan of swimming frequently, you'll need to rinse that chlorine out of your skin to prevent damage, too.
Or, as The Today Show website discusses, you could skip more showers and focus on becoming better at showering "correctly." According to Dr. Casey Carlos, assistant professor of medicine in dermatology at University of California San Diego, how you bathe each time you shower makes a big difference in cleanliness.
While we tend to think more soap is better, Carlos doesn't recommend lathering your skin in bubbly, sweet-smelling soap. Instead, use soap only where it's needed: armpits, groin, feet. Carlos tells Today that soap is only for our smelliest, oiliest of areas.
If you're someone with dry skin, you might want to swap the shower for a nice soak. Taking a lukewarm bath will actually help the skin soak in more moisture as it opens the pores with its warmth, even more so than lathering on lotion after a shower.
It might seem unbelievable, but there is a right way to shower—and it means you should refrain from turning yours on at full blast and full heat. Whether you choose to shower less often, or simply turn down the temperature of your next one to save your skin, you'll leave cleaner than you once thought.
And who knows what else you might be doing wrong? Maybe you've been pooping incorrectly, unsure of how to properly use your own bathroom. Or maybe your morning coffee holds secrets you know nothing about. With a few tweaks to your daily routine, you can live a simpler and better life.