Do I Need to Shower Every Day?
You don't have to dig deep to find out what Hollywood thinks about showering—i.e., the basic hygienic practice most people stick to. Perhaps a daily act for most, the verdict on frequency from some of today's top stars may surprise you. For an industry that's all about being pretty, daily soap-and-water showers are becoming increasingly passé.
The stars have spoken...
Maybe it's my past as a bullied youth, but I cannot imagine proudly proclaiming I shower as little as possible. However, that's exactly what a growing number of actors are doing. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis shared on Dax Shepard's podcast, Armchair Expert, that, like Shepard himself, they aren't huge fans of bathing themselves or their kids any more than they need to. Jake Gyllenhaal told Vanity Fair recently that he's finding bathing "less and less necessary." The TL;DR version of Hollywood on showers? Not fans...at least not all the time.
Growing up, like many of you, I showered, if not daily, every other day. I showered less during the winter, since, in addition to being oily, my skin was also dry. Whenever I noticed my legs flaking, I'd shower less, thinking the excess hot water was to blame. Magazines taught me, in passing, that too much showering stripped your skin of its "natural protective oils." I never followed up with any sort of authority at the time about this information because, I thought, it was written in a magazine—so, I took it as sacrosanct.
Cut to a burgeoning career in lifestyle reporting and a passion for skincare later, and it occurred to me, as I dealt with another bout of dry skin, to check my facts and consult the experts. Should I go the path of Kutcher and Kunis? Or should I rinse every day? And am I damaging my skin if I do?
What doctors are saying
Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., owner of Mudgil Dermatology in New York City, was happy to help break it down.
"[Showering every day is] not necessary, but I also don't think it's harmful to our skin, as is being reported widely in the media lately," he said. "Bathing daily can make the skin drier if you don't moisturize, but that's about all that can be proven. Effects on our microbiome are speculative."
Mudgil said keeping your skin moisturized after showering is as simple as using your favorite body lotion regularly. He also notes children should bathe daily.
'How frequently one showers depends on the person's tendency to accumulate oil, sweat and body odor.'
Board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth Mullans, M.D., approaches the issue from a practical angle: Are you dirty?
"How frequently one showers depends on the person's tendency to accumulate oil, sweat and body odor," Mullans said. "Consider showering two to three times per week and limiting it to 10 minutes if you have sensitive skin."
So it's okay to shower frequently if you moisturize, and it's okay to skip a shower when you feel you can. But are there dangers if you wait too long to shower?
"We're exposed to irritants, pathogenic organisms, environmental pollutants, etc., every day," Mudgil said. "Leaving these on our skin for prolonged periods can't be good for us."
This especially applies to frequent gym-goers. Mudgil said in the case of intense workouts, a shower should be taken as close to when you finish as possible. This way, you rid your body of sweat and don't give any bad bacteria a fighting chance.
What about the other side of the equation—taking too many baths, perhaps several a day?
"The more you bathe, the more vigilant you should be about moisturizing," Mudgil countered.
Even infrequent showerers are known to up their visits when the season turns hot, or if they're traveling to someplace with particularly warm weather. Though you may want to jump into some cool water multiple times, he adds, just once a day is actually quite effective at keeping you clean. The same rule applies if your job is one in which you get particularly dirty—be it with sweat or the tools of your trade. One shower at the end of the day is probably sufficient.
Though you may want to jump into some cool water multiple times, just once a day is actually quite effective at keeping you clean.
So, there you have it: How often you shower is a study in moderation. Have an easy day around the office followed by couch and TV time? Perhaps you can skip the shower. Went to the gym or got sprayed by mud on the job? Time to suds up.
Soap and water are good for you, provided you don't overuse them and make sure to keep your lotion supply stocked.