Cleansing reduction: Why taking daily showers may be bad for your skin health
Daily showers could become a thing of the past, if a new beauty trend called ‘cleansing reduction’ takes off.
Instead of bathing every day, proponents whittle their washing habits down to once or twice a week on the grounds that too much cleansing can strip the skin and hair of essential natural oils.
While it might sound disgusting, it would seem that cleansing reduction is catching on, after a poll for tissue manufacturer, SCA, found that 41 per cent of British men and 33 per cent of women no longer shower every day.
The poll also revealed that a filthy 12 per cent said that they indulge in a ‘proper wash’ just once a week.
It is the younger generation are joining who are leading this trend for the great unwashed, with 37 per cent admitting to taking a ‘shower in a can’ – that’s a quick spritz of deodorant to you and me – on a regular basis, according to market analysts, Mintel.
An RSA blog on the subject also attracted some illuminating responses, including one committed soap dodger, who revealed that they washed only ‘when dirty, sweaty or smelly, so if I’ve been gardening or out for a vigorous bike ride, or if it’s just very hot weather.’
Disgusting as it might sound, going for long periods without bathing is nothing new, according to Lancaster University sociologist, Dr Elizabeth Lancaster.
According to Lancaster, daily showers are a relatively recent development and less than a century ago, a weekly bath would have been considered perfectly adequate.
‘Now we think nothing of showering once, twice or even three times a day, before and after work or going out and after the gym,’ she said in an interview with the Times.
‘It has embedded itself in our routine and become an essential, not an optional, thing to do.’
Soap dodgers: Both Prince Harry and Jessica Simpson are said to prefer using dry, rather than liquid, shampoo
While dermatologists worry about the impact all the washing could have on your skin, green campaigners have long argued that reducing the amount of time we spend in the shower would benefit the environment.
Waterwise, an NGO dedicated to reducing water consumption in the UK, argues that having fewer or shorter showers ‘will use less water and less energy’ and will also ‘reduce your carbon footprint, which helps prevent global warming.’
Its long-running ‘Shower Power’ campaign has attracted some celebrity supporters too, most notably the former children’s TV presenter, Kriss Akabusi.
But while preserving the environment is driving the soap-free trend for some, for many more, it’s simply because they’re too lazy to get up early for a wash.
A survey by the Global Hygiene Council last year found that 58 per cent of British men regularly miss their morning shower because they are too idle or too rushed.
Likewise, sales of time-saving products such as dry shampoo have soared, with Asda reporting a 37 per cent rise in sales.
What’s more, they add, one in five products are bought by men – possibly including Prince Harry who once revealed that he hadn’t washed his hair for two years.
With some hairdressers arguing that too much washing strips hair of sebum, resulting in a lank and greasy look, it would seem that he – and fellow dry shampoo addict, Jessica Simpson – might be on to something.
Interestingly, a study conducted by the University of California found that too much washing can actually be bad for you, because it strips away beneficial bugs that the body uses to help ward off infections.
‘A vigorous daily shower would disturb the natural bug flora of the skin as well as skin oils,’ revealed John Oxford, Professor of Virology at Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Nevertheless, Oxford told the Times that he was concerned by a study released by the Hygiene Council that found nearly half of the population wash their hands less than five times a day, saying it means our hands carry ‘as many germs as a toilet bowl’.
But despite his dim view of sink-dodgers, Oxford still doesn’t think we need to shower as much as we do.
‘As long as people wash their hands often enough and pay attention to the area of the body below the belt, showering or bathing every other day would do no harm.
‘Even twice a week would not be a problem if people used a bidet daily as most infectious bugs hang around our lower halves.
‘We pay too much attention to the body beautiful and smelling good, with perfumes for men and women,’ he added.
‘We should wash to stop cross-infection, not for grooming reasons.’
Read more: Daily Mail