I know that the idea of a daily or even twice daily shower is the norm for the majority of people in the United States. Living in Houston, Texas which is the 4th closest city to the sun, combined with the heat and humidity, makes you want to shower at least 3 times a day. I enjoy the feeling of warm water running down my body almost as much as I do the cool waves of the Caribbean sea. Water is my element and bathing is a ritual that I hold highly as the concept of being submerged in a beautiful bath of essential oils, baking soda, oatmeal and lavender buds makes my heart sing. So don't get me wrong when I state that I do not shower every day and the benefits are totally amazing!
Daily showering is expensive, polluting and unnecessary. The old-school weekly bath or shower – with a brief daily sink-wash – is healthier for the environment, and for us. It is clear my daily shower habit resulted from falsely imposed cultural norms, rather than any legitimate health benefits. We do need to wash our hands frequently, for obvious hygiene reasons. But our skin has its own natural cleansing mechanism and it is generally only our armpits, feet and privates that produce any odors if unwashed.
The skin is an essential organ that gets taken for granted too often. The skin's purpose is to provide protection to your internal organs and is your first line of defense to diseases and bacteria. Applying detergents (soaps) to our skin and hair every day disrupts a sort of balance between skin oils and the bacteria that live on our skin. When you shower aggressively, you obliterate the ecosystems. They repopulate quickly, but the species are out of balance and tend to favor the kinds of microbes that produce odor. But after a while, the idea goes, your ecosystem reaches a steady state, and you stop smelling bad. I mean, you don’t smell like rosewater and lavender, but you don’t smell like B.O., either. You just smell like you.
If we do more to allow our oil glands and bacteria to equilibrate, the theory goes, skin should stop fluctuating between oily and dry. Doctors say that overuse of soap removes the skin’s natural protective oils and good bacteria. This can exacerbate or cause complaints such as dermatitis. The longer one stays in the shower, the more of the skin’s oils are removed. The only real beneficiaries of over-frequent baths and showers are the companies that make and market soaps and shampoos. Just stop, or think about it at least.