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How often do you shower? In our hyperclean world, you would think most people would say "daily" (even if they don't). Which is why we were surprised when we asked the question the other day on our No More Dirty Looks blog: The answers were all over the map. We were inspired by a recent New York Times story about attractive people who don't like to bathe (or, in some instances, wear deodorant). And any time we can encourage people do buy and use fewer personal care products, we do.
So as the seasons change, and people start reaching for their magnums of synthetic-filled moisturizer, we have another idea: Just shower less. There are surprising benefits, from healthier, clearer skin, to higher sex appeal. Click through for an explanation.
This is part of a series inspired by No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, by Siobhan O'Connor and her co-author Alexandra Spunt.
Read more on their blog.
Illustration by Brianna Harden
Your skin will be softer. There are two ways your skin gets hydrated: from the water and beneficial oils inside your body, and by attracting moisture in the air. As the seasons change and the air gets dryer, so can your skin. While we understand the impulse to simply load up on moisturizer, consider this instead: Hot water dries out your skin by softening the oils and washing them away more easily, so if you shower less, and use a nontoxic soap only where you really need it—we're going to assume we don't need to tell you what those parts are—you will probably find your skin is able to maintain a nice balance on its own. (If you still need a little boost, try organic raw oils like coconut, jojoba, or olive, or pure shea butter creams without artificial fragrance or chemical preservatives).
It will allow your own smell to come through. We're not advocating for odor of the unpleasant kind here: No one who is passing you on the street should be able to smell you, whether it's your cologne (in which case you are wearing too much) or the smell of your underarms (in which case you need a new deodorant). But there's a difference between being stinky and allowing your own natural scent to emerge for people who get close enough to smell it. Studies have shown time and again that smell influences sexual attraction and mate selection on a psychological level, as well as a physiological one.
It preserves helpful bacteria that can boost immunity. The recent New York Times story about not showering cited interesting new research showing that, just like our stomachs benefit from so-called "good" bacteria, so can our skin. “Good bacteria are educating your own skin cells to make your own ,” the University of California dermatology chief Dr. Richard Gallo told the Times. These good guys help your skin fight off bad bacteria—which is more than can be said about, oh, I don't know, body lotion.
It reduces your exposure to harmful chemicals. As gross as it sounds, the dead skin cells and oils that live on our skin are actually desirable—they're there to help protect us from undesirable bacteria, and they can make it harder for some harmful chemicals to easily penetrate the skin. Which means that when you strip your skin with harsh soap or body washes—which can contain a cocktail of chemicals that have no business in your bathroom, or your body—you make it more vulnerable. Instead, use soap only where you need it, and make sure you use a nontoxic one with as few ingredients as possible. (Dr. Bronner's is always a good bet.)
It may reduce eczema, rosacea, and other kinds of irritation. People with irritated skin and rashes know very well that the less they expose their skin to hot showers, the better their skin behaves. Here's another thing to consider: Many people with eczema or psoriasis actually have an allergy to "sensitizers" in their shampoo and soaps. Clean out the toxic products, and your rashes may just disappear forever like mine did. (Check the hair and body sections of our book No More Dirty Looks for more about this, and for specific product recommendations.)