Experts Say We're All Showering Too Much
Perhaps I should have written the headline as "You're" showering too much.
I live alone, spending most of my days writing and blogging and I very rarely have to interact with other people. After my daughter went to college and I was back in my writer hermit mode, I began wondering if there was a point to a daily shower. Even at "quick guy shower" length one is wasting precious time that could be spent with Netflix, after all. Absent the need to make other people happy, was there any sound reasoning for wasting water like that?
Not really. In fact, not only is frequent showering not necessary, it can be harmful to the skin:
Anytime you take a shower -- especially a hot one -- with soap and a scrubbing device like a washcloth or a loofah, you're undermining the integrity of your skin's horny layer. The soap and the hot water dissolve the lipids in the skin and scrubbing only hastens the process. The more showers you take, the more frequently this damage takes place and the less time your skin has to repair itself through natural oil production. What's more, the horny layer of your skin can be sloughed off by scrubbing, exposing the delicate skin cells beneath. The result of showering too frequently is generally dry, irritated and cracked skin.
For the longest time, a key component of my personal mission statement has centered on maintaining the integrity of my skin's horny layer. I can't be alone in that regard. Imagine my horror upon discovering that societal daily hygiene norms were keeping me from my life goals.
As if it weren't awful enough that the shower is assaulting my skin, there is a terrycloth demon awaiting afterward to do even more damage:
Another problem related to showering too often is the use of a towel to dry off. While rubbing yourself dry with a towel is common practice, it's also a damaging one for your skin.
Is there no end to the havoc that the pressure to smell good for strangers can wreak on one's epidermis?
Even with damning evidence like the above, questions still lingered in my mind about whether I should break from modern tradition.
As always, the Internet came through for me:
Too much all-over bathing may even raise your risk for some health issues. Dry, cracked skin opens up gaps for infection-causing germs to slip through. That means frequent bathing when your skin is already dry—and especially as you age, when your skin becomes thinner and less hydrated—may increase the odds of coming down with something, Larson says.
Other experts agree. “I think most people over-bathe,” says Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University.
Finding that my choice has the support of experts I've never met has been liberating. The discovery has me rethinking my hygiene habits when I'm on the road.
Throughout my career I have showered before every show. Other than the time it takes for a brief handshake and to offer a few words of effusive praise to me when the show is over, the audience is never too close to me. A little extra cologne should be all that's needed for non-shower night shows.
Not only will I reap the emotional benefits of living my best life, but my horny layer will thank me for years to come.