Actress Naya Rivera’s recent comments about showering have landed her in some hot water. But that begs the question: Is it actually necessary to shower every day?
It’s a topic that Glee star Naya Rivera brought up by way of controversy while guest-hosting The View this week: “I feel like showering more than once a day or every day is such a white people thing,” she said, to the surprise of her fellow hosts.
The actress, who is part Puerto-Rican, African-American, and German, later clarified her comment. “Yesterday, we were talking about a study that says you’re supposed to shower once or twice every three days. I had an opinion on it that was supposed to be a joke,” she said.
You can watch Rivera’s comments here.
Kidding or not, the whole thing got us thinking: Is showering every day really necessary, for anyone?
“Daily showering is a more cultural phenomenon than medical necessity,” explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology. “In the U.S., people commonly shower once or even more per day – this can actually be harmful to skin, as hot water strips essential oils and can lead to irritation,” he adds.
Another issue, particularly in the wintertime, is that the alkaline pH of some soaps can disrupt normal skin barrier function, says Zeichner. This, along with heavily fragranced formulas and long hot showers, can result in chronically parched and itchy skin that is prone to irritation.
However, for many people, bacteria that accumulate in sweat-prone areas can build up quickly and produce body odor, says New York dermatologist Eric Schweiger, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group. If showering is skipped for too long, that bacteria can potentially turn harmful and result in infection.
“Realistically, most people shower daily to feel clean, and I think it can be fine for skin health if you do so in a way that protects the barrier,” says Schweiger.
Whether you do it daily or a few times a week, our experts advise the following pointers.
Keep Showers Under About 7 Minutes
The longer you’re under running warm water, the more depleted your skin’s natural moisture barrier becomes. Turn the temperature down from hot to warm to help your skin retain as much hydration as possible, and set your cellphone alarm to know when time is up.
Suds Sweat-Prone Areas Only
It’s actually not necessary to suds your whole body. Go for the areas that have concentrated sweat glands – your underarms, private areas and feet. Include your upper chest and back if you tend to sweat in these areas. The soapy runoff from cleansing these strategic spots is plenty enough to clean the rest of your body, say our experts.
Switch To Body Wash
Traditional soap can simply be too caustic for some sensitive and aging skin types, particularly when temperature and humidity levels drop. Try switching to a moisturizing body wash that is soap-free, as well as free of drying detergent ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate.
Shower Less, Use Wipes
If you do decided to cut back on showering, you can still swipe sweat-prone areas with baby or cleansing wipes to stay fresh. Look for formulas that contain natural astringents like cucumber or citrus. Change out underwear and socks for a fresh pair on days you skip, so that bacteria doesn’t have the chance to propagate into body odor, suggests our experts.