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Wait, should we really actually shower just once a week?



The once-a-week revolution is picking up, and we might all soon be washing differently.

Most kids hate bathing unless it involves some sort of incentive. One more hour with the iPad? Yes! Bring on the soap-filled waterworks!


Then puberty hits and the idea of an “optional wash” horrifies parents more than it does the teens. Because seriously, this is the time we all become gross. For me, hair washing had to pick up – going from once a week to suddenly shampooing my beautiful blonde hair at least every two days.

Because vetkoek hair is not attractive.

And as an adult, there is really nothing that kills sexy or romantic vibes like a smelly date. I’ve heard that unpleasant human “musk” is one of the biggest buzzkills of relationships.

But The Guardian notes that daily showers are a) expensive, b) polluting and c) unnecessary.

A 10-minute shower wastes about 60 litres of water, while a bath does 80. 80?! Um… gulp!

To combat these environmental factors, more and more people are apparently opting for the once-a-week revolution or the sink wash.

...it’s mostly for aesthetic reasons. Turns out that bacterially it's not actually essential for remaining healthy.

Sink wash?

You do the sink 6 days a week and shower on day 7 (no need for this to be the Sabbath).

Hit the main areas which tend to emit strong scents – i.e. groin, pits and bits. But the rest of your body apparently needs very little soap.

Time interviewed Dr Elaine Larson, an infectious disease expert and associate dean for research at Columbia University School of Nursing about how often one should wash. She explained that it’s mostly for “aesthetic reasons”. Turns out that bacterially, it’s not actually essential for remaining healthy.

But for the love of avo – please don’t do your sink wash using wipes – landfills are chock-a-block with tad-thicker-than-toilet-paper-towelettes!

Is it “dangerous” to be “too clean”?

What? Impossible? In our minds clean always equates excellent and dirty evil.

“Some scientists believe that our society’s current obsession with cleanliness, both in the form of overuse of antibacterial cleaning products, as well as an exceedingly sanitized lifestyle that keeps us isolated from most sources of germs that can make us ill — has caused our immune systems to become hypersensitive to foreign assaults of all kinds, whether harmful or beneficial,” says Time.

So our current behaviour is merely about upholding societal norms?

Buzzfeed reports that the dermatologists they consulted see regular showers as more of a cultural phenomenon than anything else.

Over-bathing can open up the already dry skin to infections...

So it's not necessary for life?
Larson notes that showering and bathing is useful when it comes to removing odour – i.e. after gym, a long day in the sun, etc. Yet “keeping clean” won’t prevent illness. Hand washing is optimal for this concern.

The Guardian notes that dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, says that “parents should stop bathing babies and toddlers daily because early exposure to dirt and bacteria may help make skin less sensitive, even preventing conditions like eczema in the long run”.

And Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University says that daily showers are not ideal as the body is already a well-oiled machine. Literally. Over-washing strips the shape of its natural oils which nourish the skin and hair. This stripping can even cause skin conditions such as dermatitis.

Over-bathing can open up the already dry skin to infections (this is often a concern for the elderly), while it may also disrupt the skin’s population of immune system-supporting bacteria. Larson recommends you skip the antibacterial cleansers altogether.

In the end, it’s about cultural norms vs actual health risks. The only beneficiaries of the cult of over-cleansing are really beauty product companies selling the idea of squeaky cleanliness.

And yet, I can’t see myself opting for the sink wash any time soon though. As Haley Nahman of Manrepeller says “Fifty-two showers a year would make me feel like I was permanently camping. Inside my body.”
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