I gave up showering every day around the time my parents stopped forcing me into the shower and waiting patiently (ish) until I was done and they could put me to bed. I mean, I still do shower – just not as frequently, and often my hair only gets washed once or twice a week.
Now, my friends sometimes think this is disgusting (and yes, they tell me so), but I have to say, I have noticed that my skin and hair don’t seem to be suffering. Quite the opposite, really.
And thanks to science, I have some ammunition the next time one of them @’s me.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point to hear that we each have our own unique microbiome, and that it plays an important role in our health that we’re only beginning to understand. Probiotics have become essential daily pills for many people (or whatever method you prefer) in order to maintain a healthy gut – but what about the organisms living on the outsides of our bodies?
Well, they’re important, too, and washing them away every single day can be harmful to your overall health. In addition to helping with digestion, your microbiome assists your immune system and heart health – but only if it’s functioning normally.
Evidence suggests that showering – along with the rest of our indoor, urbanized, sterile Western lives – really does damage the health of your skin and leave you with a less robust and complex microbiome going forward.
Proof? Scientists cite the case of the Yanomami people of the Amazon, who had no contact with Western people and possessed a rich complement of bacteria, including ones that act as natural antibiotics.
Shampoos and soap strip your skin and hair of essential oils, which your conditioner and lotions attempt to rebuild synthetically (because money). And even if you’re intrigued or convinced by the science, you’re probably wondering what to do about your likely smell if you chuck all those products and get back to nature.
It’s true that some of the bacteria that make up a healthy microbiome excrete stinky chemicals that lead to body odor. If you stop washing those off, well, there will be smells. But people who have given up showers claim that the smelly bacteria only exist because we’ve already upset our microbiome by showering too often (or at all) in the first place.
Like James Hamblin, a writer for The Atlantic who gave up showering as an experiment.
“At first, I was an oily, smelly beast.”
I know, not exactly inspiring. But wait!
“I still rinse off elsewhere when I’m visibly dirty, like after a run when I have to wash gnats off my face, because there is still the matter of society. If I have bed head, I lean into the shower and wet it down. But I don’t use shampoo or body soap, and I almost never get into a shower…
…And everything is fine. I wake up and get out the door in minutes. At times when I might’ve smelled bad before, like at the end of a long day or after working out, I just don’t. At least, to my nose. I’ve asked friends to smell me, and they insist that it’s all good. (Though they could be allied in an attempt to ruin me.)”
He also pointed out that not showering means also saving a lot of time, water, and money (and time – no getting up earlier in the morning!).
So, that’s the case! Now that you know, what are you going to do about it?