Whether you like them short, efficient, and ice cold or piping hot with a dozen different products to use, showering is a regular part of our lives.
But just how “regular” does it need to be?
On those days where you’re short on time and you didn’t really break a sweat, you might find yourself having an internal “how often should I shower” debate.
Is it okay to skip a day…or two, or three?
Here’s what the experts say about how often you really need to clean your bod.
Should You Shower Every Day?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to “How often should I shower?”
It hinges on several factors, including the climate where you live, skin type, line of work, and how active you are.
“Showering is an individual task and changes with everyone’s lifestyle and goals,” says Anna Chacon, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Miami, FL.
If you live in a humid climate, or you exercise every day, or your job puts you in contact with germs, a daily shower might be best.
If you prefer daily showers, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends limiting them to five minutes.
Use warm (not hot) water and a gentle cleanser to help prevent dry skin.
If you live in a drier climate, exercise occasionally, or have sensitive skin, a shower every two to three days may suffice.
Once sweat, germs, or body odor come into play, it’s probably time for a rinse-off.
What Happens If You Don’t Shower Enough?
If you don’t shower often enough, you (and anyone within a few feet of you) may notice a build-up of body odor.
Showering too infrequently may also affect your skin health.
Pores can get clogged with sweat and dirt, leading to breakouts or acne on the chest, back, or buttocks. Skin cells are regularly regenerating, leaving dead skin cells in their wake.
If these dead skin cells aren’t washed off, they can build up, leading to rough, dry, or patchy skin.
Allergens, germs, or bacteria can also irritate skin or even lead to infection.
This is especially true for individuals with sensitive skin.
Can you shower too often?
More is not always better when it comes to showering.
“Showering too often can dry out your skin and strip your skin of essential oils,” says Jill Canes, a board-certified nurse practitioner and founder of Face Forward Medical Aesthetics.
This can lead to itchy or flaky skin and may exacerbate certain skin conditions.
Excessive showering may also mess up your skin’s microbiome, Canes adds.
Disrupting your skin’s mini “ecosystem” could lead to irritation or infection.
Bottom line: Shower as often as your skin and lifestyle requires, and consider using a timer to limit your shower to five minutes or less.
3 Tips for a Better Shower
No matter how often you shower, follow these best practices to protect your skin and keep your showers efficient and eco-friendly.
1. Use warm water
While hot and cold showers both have their benefits for your body, extra hot water can actually strip moisture from your skin.
“Hot water dries out the skin,” says Susan Bard, M.D., F.A.A.D., F.A.C.M.S., a board-certified dermatologist at Vive Dermatology in Brooklyn, NY. “Warm water is best.”
If you can’t resist a hot shower, Bard adds, keep it short and re-hydrate your skin afterward by patting — not rubbing — your skin just until damp and then applying body lotion head to toe.
2. Don’t forget your hair
You don’t need to wash your hair every time you shower, especially if you shower daily and have dry or damaged hair.
But if you notice your scalp feels oily or flaky, wash with shampoo (focusing on the scalp) and conditioner (focusing on the ends).
3. Go easy on your skin
Use a gentle, unscented cleanser to avoid irritating your skin, and apply only where you need it.
Exfoliate once a week with a loofah or body puff instead of a grainy scrub which may send particles down the drain.