A Dermatologist Says *This* Is How Often You Should Be Showering

Photo: Getty/Cavan Images

In this world, there are two types of showerers. There are the get-in-there-and-get-it-done types who hop in the tub with the mere purpose of cleaning their bodies. Then there are the folks who like to turn their showers into a full-on experience complete with fresh eucalyptus, essential oil-infused body wash and delicious-smelling body scrubs (guilty!). You get the picture.

If you fall into the latter category, then you know showers can be pretty time-consuming and sometimes, let’s face it, you just can’t be bothered. You’ve got important things to do! People to see! Which begs the question: How often should you actually be showering? Here, we asked Beverly Hills dermatologist Jennifer Herrmann, MD, all of the most pressing shower-related questions.

So how often should you be showering?

The short answer: It depends on your lifestyle. “If you’re very physically active or work in an environment where you’re exposed to chemicals, dirt, or dust, showering daily or twice daily may be ideal to keep skin clean,” says Dr. Herrmann. “For the average person, once daily usually suffices.” (And this applies whether you're exploring cold shower benefits or taking regular-ol' warm ones.)

The news-breaking caveat here is that you don’t actually need to use soap all over your body every single day. “Excess cleanser strips the skin of natural oils and disrupts the native microbiome—the normal milieu of organisms that live on the skin and help keep it healthy—which can lead to dryness and worsen certain skin conditions like eczema,” Dr. Herrmann explains. Just imagine all the dollars you’ll save on fancy body soaps per year. Cha-ching!

What are the pros and cons of showering daily?

One of the big pros to daily shower, as I'm sure that you've guessed is that you're able to do away with smells. From a skin standpoint, daily showers can help you get rid of acne-causing bacteria (which means they'll help you stave off breakouts on your chest, back, and butt). Plus, if you're prone to dryness, derms say regular showers will help to replenish your skin's moisture and kill germs. But beyond that, there aren't a whole lot of benefits to lathering and rinsing every single day.

In the "negatives" column, there's the fact that if you're spending 20 minutes washing yourself every day, that adds up to 12,167 hours of washing yourself (if you live to be 100) over the course of a lifetime—and that time could probably be put to more efficient use outside of the shower. Plus, as mentioned if you're using stripping cleansers you run the risk of drying out your skin and creating a whole host of issues in your neck-down complexion.

Is it necessary to shower every day?

According to both dermatologists and germ pros, the answer here is a big, fat "nope." "You can probably go for as long as you want without showering without too much affecting your health," says Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of The Germ Files. "It's good to wash your privates every few days at least to be sure they are not at risk for contamination from fecal bacteria leading to UTIs, but the rest of your body can take care of itself." You might start to smell, but you should be able to stave off any odor with regular cleansing of your armpits, private parts, and feet without having to give your full body a once over.

What are the health benefits of showering every day?

Based on conversations with skin and germ pros, there really isn't a whole lot of them. If you like the feeling of being clean, by all means—do your thing.  But as far as your health goes, daily showers aren't a must-do.

Speaking of suds, is there an ideal type of soap to use? Oh! And are loofahs a good idea?

The best soap to use is one that caters to your skin type, Dr. Herrmann says. She recommends using a gentle cleanser if you have sensitive skin. “These tend to have few additives and no fragrances, which can irritate the skin,” she explains. If you struggle with acne, a cleanser with antibacterial like benzoyl peroxide or an exfoliator like salicylic acid is better suited for your skin.

As for loofahs, or any other cleansing sponges, Dr. Herrmann isn’t a fan. “They tend to be not only too harsh on the skin, but they hold a tremendous amount of bacteria because they don’t completely dry out between showers.”

Do you recommend different shower frequencies for different skin types?

In addition to lifestyle, skin types also play a factor in determining how often you should shower. “For those with very oily, acne-prone skin, showering more frequently and using antibacterial cleansers can be helpful,” Dr. Herrmann says. “On the other hand, those with dry skin should shower less frequently or at least limit cleansers to the face, groin, and armpits if showering is done daily. ”

Does ideal showering frequency differ depending on gender and age?

While Dr. Herrman says gender doesn’t really matter when it comes to showering patterns, age does. “Infants and elderly people have thinner, more sensitive skin, and baths should happen less frequently, with cooler water and they should use the most gentle cleansers made for sensitive skin,” she says.  

Should you change your showering frequency when the seasons change?

“In the winter months, when air is drier and indoor heaters are in full force, the skin tends to be more dry as well,” Dr. Herrmann says. “Too frequent showering worsens dryness and flares skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.” During the summer, however, things can get pretty sweaty so increasing your shower frequency is probably a good idea.

What happens if you go too long without showering?

One thing to keep in mind if you happen to skip one too many showers, besides odor, is that thick, yellowish patches can start to form on your skin. “On the body, this may lead to rough patches and on areas with higher levels of oil glands like the scalp, face, and chest, this may allow yeast to overpopulate the skin in a condition called seborrheic dermatitis, leading to patches of itchy reddish flaking,” Dr. Herrmann says.

What happens if you shower too often?

On the other side, if you’re a shower enthusiast who maybe showers a little too often, it might not be such a good idea if your skin is prone to dryness or you struggle with some kind of skin condition. “The skin is stripped of natural oils and protective organisms,” explains Dr. Herrmann of showering too often. “This leads to dryness and can exacerbate many skin conditions from eczema to rosacea to psoriasis.”

What’s the ideal shower length and water temperature?

The answer: As long as it takes you to clean your body, Dr. Herrmann says. In other words, despite the fact that those 45-minute hot showers might feel divine, they aren’t the best thing for your skin. Too much water (especially hot water) will dry out your skin. Instead, use lukewarm and keep showers as short as possible.

How often should you wash your hair?

So you've got the skin on your bod covered, but what about your hair? Dr. Herrmann says this also depends on your lifestyle. If you’re hitting up a hot yoga class and getting pretty sweaty every day, washing your hair daily is probably best. “For most people, or for those with colored hair, it isn’t necessary to use shampoo every day as this strips natural protective oils and fades color more quickly,” she says.

So there you have it. How often you should shower depends on your lifestyle habits and skin type, but it’s safe to say showering once a day is a good rule for most of us. Mystery solved.

Now that we've got that out of the way, this is the order to apply your products once you're in the shower and this is how to turn a $3 purchase into the ultimate spa getaway.

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