Is there a right amount of time to spend in the shower?
Ah yes, the age-old question that’s haunted humankind since hygiene became a thing: How often should we be showering?
Surprisingly, showers are way more controversial than we initially realized. There’s actually a long-winded debate that’s been going on, revolving around the amount of time that should be spent in the shower. The not-so-simple answer that’s being argued over, according to Independent: Shower only when you need to. (But what does that mean?!)
Professor Stephen Shumack actually gave the Sunday Morning Herald a bit of a history lesson on showering, explaining why showering is such a big deal nowadays. He stated, “It’s only in the last fifty to sixty years (since the advent of bathrooms with showers) that the idea of a daily shower has become commonplace. The pressure to do that is actually social pressure rather than actual need. It’s become popular because of the social need to smell good. But it’s only the glands in your armpit and groin that produce body odour. They’re not all over the body.”
Okay, so taking care of your armpits and groin on a daily basis is super important, but what about the rest of the body?
Well, if you habitually work-out, live in a hot climate, or perform a labor-intensive job every day, Dr. Kiripolsky and Dr. Benabio agree that you could get away with showering daily. However, you need to make sure that you are showering correctly (yes, apparently there is a way to shower the “right” way). Dr. Woolery-Lloyd reports that hot showers “can also increase generalized itching even in people who do not have eczema.” Instead, we should be taking warm, short showers to prevent any sort of skin damage (and to not waste water).
Also, if you plan on showering every day, you should also make sure you’re using soap that won’t strip natural oils from your skin. “The ingredient in soap that does this is called a surfactant. Surfactants are chemicals that attract both oil and water,” Dr. Woolery-Lloyd told The Huffington Post. “When combined with water, surfactants are able to bind oil and remove these natural oils from our skin.” In other words, you should invest in a gentle cleanser if you plan on spending more time underneath your shower head.
Then again, if you don’t feel as though you need to shower every single day, that’s okay, too – as long as you focus on keeping the right areas clean (i.e. your armpits and groin). In fact, showering this way is beneficial because, according to Shumack, “Overwashing causes ‘defatting’ of the skin – getting rid of the natural body oils we produce to protect the skin cells. This can cause actual damage making them more permeable to bacteria or viruses, precipitating itchy skin, dryness, flakiness and worsening conditions like eczema.” Dermatologist Dr. Zeichner agrees, stating that you can use a cleansing towelette or washcloth to gently care for these areas.
Essentially, you should listen to what your body is telling you when it comes to showering. If you shower every day and notice that your skin isn’t happy, try to space out your showers, change the water temperature, or buy a soap that isn’t as harsh. If, instead, you don’t shower every day and feel gross not doing so, then focus on cleaning the areas of your body that need TLC. Or, shower on the reg (but keep it short and warm).
In the end, showering time is proportional to how your body feels. Since we’re all different, it’s important that we adjust our showering habits to accommodate for our own specific needs.