We admire celebrities – their style, their lifestyle, their cars, their diet. We want to imitate them. So when someone like Brad Pitt (and Zac Efron) says they often forgo a shower for a wet rub, we stop and take note. It’s been ingrained in us since childhood that good hygiene involves brushing your teeth twice a day and showering every day. It is the least we can do if we want to be part of society. After all, we all know someone who smells funky, and you don’t want to be that person. And so we lather ourselves daily – sometimes reluctantly.
But the debate over how often to bathe has reached its peak, and celebrities discussing a shower have left us wondering: is it imperative to shower every day? Not so much, according to actor Jake Gyllenhaal. In a recent interview, the actor said: “More and more I find that the bath is less and less necessary.” He also added that “there is a whole world of not bathing which is also very useful for the maintenance of the skin, and we cleanse ourselves naturally”. Gyllenhaal not only deemed the bath unnecessary, but also hinted that there is a benefit to not showering every day. Before low-maintenance men jump for joy and throw away their soaps, as providers of good hygiene, we ask cosmetic dermatologist Dr Madhuri Agarwal, medical director and CEO of the Yavana Aesthetics Clinic, about there is some truth to this. âOur skin’s natural function is to get rid of millions of dead cells every day,â says Dr Agarwal. âHowever, with increasing environmental changes, pollution and varied lifestyles, this natural process of skin repair and regeneration is being altered. People who exercise or work outdoors are also affected by dirt, which leads to fungal and bacterial skin infections. Therefore, in the present day (unlike the Neanderthal era) daily bathing is essential.
It can be argued both ways – daily bathing is hygienic and removes bacteria and sweat that are on the surface of your skin that can cause yeast and fungal infections. It keeps you clean and smells great. But as a counter-argument, excessive time spent under hot water can dry out and irritate your skin. Additionally, enthusiastic soap suds and exfoliation can also strip your skin of its natural oils, as expressed by actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. It is also said to disrupt your skin’s natural protective barrier comprising said oils which harbor beneficial bacteria and microorganisms, making it more susceptible to dryness and rashes. Especially for those who have sensitive skin or suffer from eczema. “Quick showers are recommended instead of long baths,” says Dr Agarwal. âLong baths or excessive showers can dry out the skin, disrupt its protective barrier and cause skin irritation. Avoid extreme temperatures and use lukewarm water for showering. This will cleanse without drying out or triggering skin reactivity. But even then, a good moisturizer after a shower can do the trick to keep your skin hydrated or skip the soap or go for a mild soap instead. âBar soaps that are harsh can be abrasive and strip the skin of natural oils if used too frequently. Go for gentle body cleansers that don’t disrupt the good bacteria in the skin and leave behind a layer of protective moisturizer.
Other than that, the positive environmental impact due to reduced water consumption and fewer microplastics and parabens is a definite plus – which is why Julia Roberts doesn’t shower often. Having said that, are these reasons enough to skip the showers?
The middle ground would be to take a shower every day, but to take a quick shower. Actress Mila Kunis advocates the âpits and breasts and holes and solesâ approach: soap the areas that sweat the most and are likely to generate body odor and miss the rest. Ashton Kutcher and Kunis both preach this to their children, who by their admission don’t bathe every day. âWhile it sounds great on paper, it is not advisable to wash only certain parts, especially in a humid environment like India. Neglecting other parts of the body can lead to different types of infections and acne-like rashes due to sweating under occlusive clothing.