Personal hygiene is a personal matter, but recent internet debates have made us reconsider how we go about cleaning ourselves.
Are there really clear-cut recommendations for how you go about showering?
Well, TODAY turned to the experts to find out, and the answers certainly contained a few surprises.
Dr. Angela Lamb, director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice, says there’s no real scientific evidence to show that you need to bathe or shower after a certain period of time – it’s mostly a matter of personal preference.
Dr. Mary Stevenson, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, shares similar thoughts, adding that how often you should be showering depends on a number of factors, including your skin, your age, and your activity level.
Generally, she says, ‘you should be showering, bathing, or cleansing yourself every two to three days’.
However, if you’re working out or engaging in an activity where you are sweating a lot, you may have to shower more often.
The biggest problem that may stem from not showering enough, though, is the smell…
Some people don’t produce as much body odour as others, Lamb says, so from a social perspective, they may be able to get away without showering for longer.
And others may simply not feel the need to wash at the first smell of a bit of funk. Gross.
“A lot of how much we bathe in modern society is really cultural,” she adds.
Although, showering too frequently can also cause some issues, such as drying out the skin and disrupting your skin barrier.
Lamb says: “You can actually make yourself more prone to infection if you over-wash because the skin is protected with some really nice natural bacteria and things that protect it, and you want to preserve those.”
Typically, showering multiple times a day isn’t a great idea, Lamb adds.
When it comes to how you’re showering, you may be surprised to hear that you actually don’t need to wash your entire body.
“What people tend to do is soap up their entire body, which is really not necessary,” Stevenson says.
“You really only need soap in your armpits, your groin, and your feet. Places that you get stinky.”
Soap is a detergent, and it helps to break down the top layer of oil and get it off your skin.
By soaping up everywhere, you remove some of these oils, making yourself more prone to dry, sensitive skin — especially during these colder winter months, Stevenson adds.
Another common mistake? Taking long, steamy showers.
“We like to say keep it to three minutes and keep it lukewarm,” Stevenson says.
Because showering can be so harsh on the skin, both experts agreed that you want to focus on using hydrating products.
“Using those more gentle products while you’re washing can be extremely helpful,” Stevenson says.
“One kind of cheat sheet is to look at stuff for sensitive skin and for babies because usually, baby products are formulated for sensitive skin.
“But that being said, you also want to talk to a dermatologist about what ingredients might be irritating, and always look at the ingredient list.”
According to Stevenson, you should opt for products without fragrances or dyes.
All in all, there is no scientific evidence to show that you need to bathe or shower after a certain period of time.
It’s mostly a matter of personal preference and depends on various factors.
However, showering too frequently can cause issues, such as drying out the skin and disrupting your skin barrier.