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How Often do you Really Need to Bathe to Stay Clean?

It’s an age-old question: How often do we actually need to bathe? While many believe that daily body washing is essential for cleanliness and hygiene, others believe it strips the body of its natural oils and dries the skin. Let’s take a look at what experts have to say about the body-washing controversy.

How This All Started

It all began when several celebrities came out with the news that they don’t feel the need to shower daily, sending the Twittersphere into a fierce debate. Actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard revealed that they’ve started to bathe their children less frequently as they get older. On Shepard’s podcast, “Armchair Expert,” celebrity couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher revealed they’re also in the habit of washing their children every few days. Jake Gyllenhaal also chimed in on an interview saying that not bathing is really helpful for skin maintenance, and we naturally clean ourselves.

While some people agree that bathing daily isn’t really necessary, others had strong reactions to these celebs’ hygiene habits, calling them disgusting and lacking basic hygiene skills. Despite the online backlash, it seems that bathing daily is becoming less and less popular. According to a poll taken by Millennial Podcast in May 2020, 55.6% of listeners said they hadn’t been showering daily throughout quarantine. Also in 2020, the Daily Mail revealed that roughly 25% of people in the United Kingdom had stopped showering daily during the pandemic.

What Experts Say About Daily Bathing

Derrick Phillips, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic in London, says washing once a day is optimal for social reasons, but it may not be absolutely necessary for your health. He says that washing once a day is adequate for most children and adults to maintain a socially acceptable level of personal hygiene and cleanliness. He adds that the skin is self-cleaning and naturally exfoliates. Scrubbing helps to remove physical dirt and reinforce the perception of cleanliness, but isn’t necessary. In other words, a daily shower will help you smell and feel fresh and clean, but scrubbing your body from head to toe every single day is probably not going to make you any “cleaner.”

Some people are concerned that showering could actually harm the skin, according to New York-based dermatologist Dr. Adarsh Mudgil, there’s little evidence to support this theory that daily bathing is anyway dangerous. He believes that daily washing isn’t necessary, but he also doesn’t think that it’s harmful to our skin as is being reported widely in the media lately. He adds that bathing daily can make the skin drier if you don’t moisturize, but that’s about all that can be proven. Its effects on our microbiome are speculative.

The Ideal Bathing Routine

Experts say bathing daily is safe for the skin and may help you have more positive social interactions. Here are a few tips on how you can build a healthy routine:

  • Bathe daily if it works for your lifestyle and body type.
  • Bathe every other day if you’re concerned about saving water or a skin condition.
  • Spot cleaning is better than nothing if you can’t shower daily.
  • Avoid products that are overly drying.
  • Avoid using scrubs or exfoliation techniques more than once a week.
  • Use body moisturizers and lotions after every shower or bath.

While bathing daily isn’t essential, Mudgil says it’s best not to wait longer than 2 days. We’re exposed to irritants, pathogenic organisms, and environmental pollutants every day. Leaving these on your skin for prolonged periods isn’t good. Phillips recommends focusing on areas with hair and those that tend to get sweaty, such as the armpits and groin, along with the feet.

The Takeaway

Even expert dermatologists are somewhat divided on the daily showering debate. However, there are a few points that most people seem to agree on. First, daily showering isn’t necessarily essential, but it won’t hurt you. If you feel sticky, grimy, or dirty, there’s nothing wrong with showering every day. When it comes to the question of how often to bathe, pay attention to how your body feels. Let that be your guide.

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