Acquire team thoroughly researches & reviews the best gear, services and staples for life.
Showering feels pretty amazing. Few pleasures are as enjoyable and hot shower after a long day at work. But are you doing your body more harm than good? The short answer is yes. Kind of.
From an evolutionary standpoint for the overwhelming majority of human history we didn’t bathe every day or even every week. Now most of us feel dirtier than a pig in mud if we don’t shower a couple of times a day. But this idea isn’t just a theory, there has been a glut of interest in the topic in the past few years and and some research is advocating for saying “No” to the shower. Some research shows that not only is it unnecessary for the most part, it’s actually harmful your skin and your body’s natural chemistry.
RELATED: The Best Bar Soaps For Guys
To even begin to understand why we shouldn’t shower daily we need to first understand the human microbiome. It’s been a fairly recent obsession among scientists, but microbes live in and on your body. It’s like a good parasite that actually makes you more healthy. It’s a giver not a taker.
So how do we respond in gratitude? We commit microbial genocide daily when we shower, essentially killing them before they can doing their jobs. That job includes extracting vitamins and other nutrients that we need to survive, teaching our immune systems how to recognize dangerous invaders and producing helpful anti-inflammatory compounds and chemicals that fight off other viruses that could make us sick. Essentially when you shower and you destroy the species. Every day just as the healthy microbes begin to repopulate we shower again, repeating the cycle.
The body regulates the bacteria it needs but when you shower, yes you’ll smell great but you also stop your body from building this natural defense system. Don’t shower and you build this pretty awesome microbe-laden colony BUT you’re gonna be known as Mr. BO — title no one wants.
RELATED: Learn The Right Way To Wash Your Face
Luckily some braver souls than me have already undertaken the task and logged the results.
James Hamblin The Atlantic’s resident health expert took this to the extreme, forget not showering every day he decided not to shower for a two full years. Here’s a progression of his journey and how it affected him, in his words:
“At first, I did smell bad, especially as I went without deodorant. I didn’t quit cold turkey but transitioned from a traditional aluminum-based stick to Soapwalla,, which is just some plant oils and starches.”
“But after a while, the idea goes, your ecosystem reaches a steady state, and you stop smelling bad.”
“I went from everyday to every other day to every three. And now I’ve pretty much stopped altogether.”
“And everything is fine. I wake up and get out the door in minutes. At times when I might’ve smelled bad before, like at the end of a long day or after working out, I just don’t.”
But let’s be real, you’re not showering with the aim of killing microbes, you’re showering because it’s a societal norm and you’re gonna stink if you don’t. And therein lies the rub, no one wants to smell. It’s voluntary social suicide.
The main problem with subscribing to #NotMyShower (come on let’s make this a thing) is that not showering is the same problem any man sporting a “struggle” beard at the moment (it gets better I promise) understands: It’s going to get worse, A LOT worse before it eventually gets better. We’ve sanitized ourselves so much that we simply don’t even smell human anymore. When we abandon soap, however, our body returns to its natural state eventually and we just smell like humans are supposed to.
So what’s the solution?
One compromise is to shower every day if you wish, but do it for far less time (say 90 seconds to two minutes). This essentially limits the negative impacts of soap and other chemicals on your skin. You can also follow Hamblin’s initial strategy, showering just a couple of times a week.
RELATED: Three Things I Learned From Weighing Myself Everyday
As information about the human microbiome continues to be uncovered some companies have emerged to the forefront. None more so than Cleveland firm AOBiome which has become one of the major proponents in this field. They aren’t quite convincing you NOT to shower but they are producing microbe boosting, products through their subsidiary Mother Dirt. Mother Dirt produced AO + Mist which is highly regarded as the best product on the market for replacing the natural body chemistry on our skin. The products contains live patented bacteria that restores the good bacteria that once lived on our skin. The product is designed to replace deodorant (for 60% of users depending on their body chemistry) and moisturizers. The product claims it helps restore the body’s natural balance by improving oily, dry and sensitive skin. And the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive thus far.
While Mother Dirt doesn’t actively advocate for fewer showers, they do have a unique understanding of what is lost every time we scrub our skin cells clean. WeightlossPlans caught up with the president of Mother Dirt, Jasmina Aganovic, to get the dirt on cleanliness.
“I was brought into [Mother Dirt] at the time of one of the biggest shifts in public health in our generation,” said Aganovic who started as president of the brand in 2015.
“I think the future there will be a reevaluation of healthy bacteria. We’re not trying to fundamentally change and tell people to stop showering but offering an option to replace what’s lost from our natural ecosystem.”
It’s not likely that we’ll start skipping daily showers. But as the research continues to unfold the daily shower could be one of the casualties of this societal shift. It’s not too hard to imagine a future where our great great grandchildren struggle to justify why showering was such massive part of our daily lives.
Dude Shower Body Wipes
Perfect for traveling, these biodegradable wipes save you the time and energy of hoping in the shower without sacrificing the certainty of clean man parts. They are thick and built like a washcloth so that you’re able to clean off without going barefoot into a locker room shower. We all know what happens in there.
$7.59 at Amazon.com
Mother Dirt Biome-Friendly Face & Body Cleanser
With no fragrances and no preservatives, Mother Dirt’s face and body cleanser is safe for sensitive skin and uses only plant-based ingredients. The frothy cleanser is designed to clean your skin without removing the healthy bacteria your body needs that usually gets stripped away during showers using harsher products.
$14.95 at Amazon.com
Dove Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo
Clean your hair without stripping away the oils and vitamins that keep your hair healthy. Dry shampoo absorbs excess oil, leaving your hair revived and feeling fresh. It’s also perfect when you’re on the go or leaving the gym and simply don’t have time for an all-out shower.
$3.94 at Amazon.com
WeightlossPlans may receive a portion of revenue if you click a link in this article and buy a product or service.
The links are independently placed by our Commerce team and do not influence editorial content. To find out more, please read our complete