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The Great Shower Debate

Posted on August 23 2021

August 2021 | Vol 7

Ever so often the age old question of how often is too often or not often enough for someone to shower arises. I for one, never understand the need for this constant debate but yet here we are again.

I decided to do a little research of my own to see what the health world is saying. What I found only slightly surprises me. While most organizations that I reviewed advised that daily showering is not required for most people; they all stressed this also depends on various factors such as skin type, skin condition, daily activities, and the weather or climate in your area.

In a few surveys that I came across most people shower at least once a day, either in the morning or at night before bed.
 In some cases depending on that days activities and or the weather some may even take two or three showers in a day.

Let's review shall we...

The Argument For Skipping Showers:
Most of us are aware that our bodies produce essential oils in our skin which act as a protective barrier against mother nature's "elements". So this argument isn't against the importance of personal hygiene instead it is an attempt to prevent skin issues and disorders. Some dermatologists only recommend a shower every other day, up to three times a week. Each person’s skin is different and can often change from season to season so keep this in mind. 

 According to Healthline, taking a shower more than once per day can "potentially strip your skin of essential oils. This causes dryness, which can lead to skin inflammation or eczema. Your skin may feel itchy and may crack, flake, and become red."

They also noted that "if you have a skin condition like psoriasis, more than one shower per day might even trigger a flare-up and that too many showers may rinse away “good” bacteria from your skin, putting you at risk for infections".

When deciding whether or not to start skipping showers, you will need to take into consideration how your skin reacts each season, for instance most regions have drier air in the winter causing your skin to be dry; while the Summer season in some regions such as here in the North East are extremely humid which can lead to excess moisture in the skin from sweating. 

The Argument For Daily Showers:
Just as we know our skin needs its essential oils, we should also be aware that these streets are filthy! Even removing Covid aka That Chic Rona from the equation, public transportation, bathrooms, offices, gyms, etc are filled with germs galore. The skin you walked out the house with sees and feels far more than we realize by the time 
we return home.

Skipping showers on hot, humid days or days where you have been physically active causing your body to sweat can not only cause body odor (most obvious), according to Healthline, poor hygiene or infrequent showers can cause a buildup of dead skin cells, dirt, sweat, and an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria on your skin which can lead to skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis neglecta (yup that's a thing), and possibly exacerbate conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema. Soooo too much not good, too little not good either for these common skin disorders. Showering helps to buff away the top layer of dead skin cells. By not removing these dead cells (I mean why would you be ok with leaving them on you anyway?), you leave your skin open to skin issues such as hyperpigmentation. And really who wants that?

While water alone does contribute to stripping away of our skin's natural oils, this is especially exaggerated by the use of soaps which contain harsh chemicals, almost detergent like in nature; as well as abrasive scrubbing of the skin during bathing. How do we combat this? Check your soap's ingredients! You always want to use moisture-rich soap that is loaded with water, humectants, butters and oils that attract and lock moisture into the skin. Shameless plug, Hummingbird Blends offers fragrant moisture-rich bar soaps for you to choose from, click here. Also, stop scrubbing your skin like it's a sink full of dirty pots and pans. Exfoliate with care.

I would also argue that for many people, shower time is their only moment of respite and self-care. A quiet time to reflect on the past, present or future. No distractions, no interruptions (we hope), that one bit of "me-time" that is so desperately needed.

A summary from Harvard Health, "while there is no ideal frequency, experts suggest that showering several times per week is plenty for most people (unless you are grimy, sweaty, or have other reasons to shower more often). Short showers (lasting three or four minutes) with a focus on the armpits and groin may suffice." Ummm, several times a week = a shower a day, but hey that's just how my mind works. 

I, for one am a daily shower kind of 'gyal. For me it is a combination of hygiene, a moment of solitude, and a bit of aromatherapy. My take away, is as with everything in life, make informed decisions. Always take into consideration the weather conditions, your skin type or condition, and your daily activity when deciding how often to bath or shower. Worried about loosing oils or drying out your skin, find the right hydrating soap, follow that up with moisture loaded lotion and bit of body oil and problem solved. Concerns about irritating your skin, test your skin to know the right amount scrubbing it can tolerate. Maybe you need a regular washcloth instead of a loofah brush. Either way, I say bade yuh backside or bathe your butt! Whichever accent you prefer.

So, what's your take on this topic?

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