Serious Question: How Often Should You Shower?

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With New York City mysteriously under siege of the stifling summer heat in what felt like the blink of an eye, I’ve already grown weary for the work I’ve got cut out for the next few months.

Summertime brings a lot good and fun energy but also a lot of extremeness. There’s the dressing appropriate for work situation while trying out to soil your clothes in sweat while walking to the train. There’s also the rabid stench of someone sitting next to you on the train who may have needed an extra shower or should think about carrying wet wipes for extra protection. Which brings me to my question for today: How often should you shower? Once a day? Twice a day?

During a girl chat segment on The Real, the ladies discussed the “Dirty Truth About Showering.” Growing up, my mother instilled in me the two showers a day rule: one in the morning and one at night. And if I felt the needed an extra wash up to feel cleaner, I did so. However, according to Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University, daily showering isn’t necessary. “I think most people over-bathe,” Mitchell said, suggesting that you shower once or twice a week.

“I think showering is mostly for aesthetic reasons,” Dr. Elaine Larson, an infectious disease expert and associate dean for research at Columbia University School of Nursing, told TIME. “People think they’re showering for hygiene or to be cleaner, but bacteriologically, that’s not the case. Bathing will remove odor if you’re stinky or have been to the gym.” But when it comes to protecting you from illness, she actually deems washing your hands regularly probably more adequate. 

“I tell patients who shower daily not to lather their whole bodies,” Mitchell says. Hit your pits, butt and groin, which are the areas that produce strong-smelling secretions. “The rest of your body doesn’t need much soaping. Your body is naturally a well-oiled machine [so] a daily shower isn’t necessary.”

Apparently, there’s also such a thing as “too much” all-over bathing, which can raise your risk for health issues ranging from dry, cracked skin that opens up gaps for infection-causing germs to slip through to thinner and less hydrated skin to disrupting the skin’s population of immune system-supporting bacteria.

Personally, I’m all about aesthetic. When you look good, you feel good. And that also goes for the way you smell. No one wants to be that person who is a bit tart because a Professor said daily showering isn’t necessary. No matter how unnecessary, there are some things that can’t be skipped and a shower is definitely one! Sure, we’ve all taken a bird bath a few times, but skipping a shower shouldn’t be the norm, especially when it’s summertime.

What are your thoughts?

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