A few years back, a heated debate took hold over the Internet between people who wash their legs in the shower and people who don’t. Even dermatologists got in on the argument, with some saying that you should never skimp on soaping up your gams, while others gave us full permission not to bother. In the latest episode of Dear Derm, board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, doubles down on the topic, explaining that not only do your legs not need to be washed in the shower every single day, but most of the rest of your body doesn’t, either.
“Skin care starts in the shower,” she says, noting that everything from the soap you use to how frequently you cleanse your skin, shave, and exfoliate are part of this equation. Because of this, it’s extra-important to engage in skin-friendly practices every time you lather up. That means turning down the temperature, using gentle products, and according to Dr. Gohara, not washing your entire body. “I don’t cleanse every part of my body—just the parts of my body that can get smelly,” she says. “Your arms and legs don’t smell bad, but your armpits, genitalia, buttocks, and feet can produce odors, and washing eliminates those odors—or better yet prevents them.”
Because cleansing your skin in the shower can be drying, even when you’re doing everything right, it’s totally fine to just… not do it. “I don’t bother with the skin that won’t bother me everyday—I just stick with the parts that need attention,” says Dr. Gohara. When you do this, the soap you’re using in those smelly parts will drip down, giving the rest of your body the cleanse it needs.
For the parts of her body she does wash, Dr. Gohara uses a synthetic poof paired with Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash ($6). “I love poofs, because they’re good for my skin, they can hang so that they don’t sit in water so they don’t get all that bacteria and grime, and this is one of my favorite cleansers because it is gentle, and it moisturizes while I cleanse.”
Too much skin scrubbing isn’t the only thing most of us (myself and Dr. Gohara included) are doing wrong in the shower. To find out the most common mistakes people make—and the one popular item that thing Dr. Gohara says she would “never, ever” use on her skin—press play on the video above.
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