A shower may be part of your daily routine, along with having a morning cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. Or, you may skip the occasional rinse-off due to lack of time or simply feeling like you don’t need it. Of course, men and women tend to have different needs when it comes to bathing, shaving and grooming. But for the average person, showering at least once a week is a good way to feel fresh. Beyond that, there’s a whole host of factors to consider when you’re wondering whether or not to hop in that steamy stall.
Your showering habits may not be a topic for public discussion but how often you shower can contribute to your personal appearance and overall sense of cleanliness. Nobody wants to smell like they’ve gone days without bathing, but sudsing up every morning or evening can be counterproductive. If you’re regularly stripping your skin of its natural barriers, it can go into overdrive producing more oil than necessary. That said, if you’re highly active and break a deep sweat at the gym, you should probably quickly rinse off for a minute or two. The same goes for those sweltering days of summer when your skin can get clogged with sunscreen, perspiration and all sorts of debris floating in the air outdoors. But for other times of year, try showering every other day. Once your skin and hair get used to the reduced schedule, try cutting back to every third day, relying on dry shampoo, deodorants and cleansing towelettes as needed. But don’t neglect washing your face every morning and evening in the sink.
What time of day?
If you have a choice between an extra 30 minutes of sleep or waking up early for a shower, you should probably choose sleep. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but many of us are not getting that recommended amount. Showering in the evening—as long as it doesn’t interfere with snoozing—is a good way to wind down and relax before bed. If a bath sounds appealing, soaking in lukewarm water and then moisturizing directly afterwards is a great way to condition skin and more hydrating than a shower.
It’s tempting to take a nice hot shower after coming in from the cold, but a soaring temperature can take away your skin’s natural oils and cause wintertime itch. If the water feels hot to the touch, dial it way back. A less drying way to shower is to keep the temperature tepid and then finish with a blast of cold water. Your skin (and hair) will be all the better for it!
Length of shower?
You’re probably spending much more time bathing than you need to be. (In fact, research has shown that the 18-24 age group spends a whopping 13+ minutes in the shower!) Next time you jump in, time how long you’re in there and see if it’s as short as you thought it was. The goal is to be in and out in five minutes or less. Beyond that, you’re wasting a ton of time…and water.
To shampoo or not to shampoo?
It’s becoming more and more popular to skip shampooing here and there—and that’s a trend in the right direction. Beauty experts seem to agree that using shampoo 2-4 times per week is the sweet spot. Some purists have given up shampooing altogether and claim their hair has never looked better. If your hair is particularly long, thick or curly, you can probably go longer without washing it. Shorter, thinner and straighter hair should lean towards more frequent showers. To avoid overdrying, choose a shampoo without sulfates and parabens. Also, when it comes to your body, you don’t need to lather up all over. Concentrate on your armpits, feet and groin area, and forget your chest, back, legs and arms. Unless you know for a fact that you’re covered in dirt, you don’t need to use soap on the majority of your body. And keep in mind that soaps shouldn’t be harsh. Try to find one without sodium lauryl sulfate, which can be especially irritating to sensitive skin.
The overall message is simple: Less is more. Showering less frequently, for a shorter period of time, at a lower temperature setting while using less soap will allow your body to do its natural self-cleaning work.