You're Showering Too Much If This Happens To You

Many of us turn to a hot shower for more than just essential cleaning. It's part of our morning wake-up ritual, a socially-mandated part of the post-workout routine, as well as the busy parent's personal mini-escape room. It's hard to imagine a substitute for the hot shower experience. And yet, experts tell us that most of us are taking personal hygiene measures way too far.

James Hamblin, M.D., puts it to us straight in The Atlantic with his article titled "You're Showering Too Much." He explains that a balanced skin microbiome — the trillions of bacteria that populate on the surface of the skin — is essential to good skin health, and may even help protect against troublesome skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. The overuse of soaps and body washes, as well as long hot showers, wreak havoc on our skin's microbiome, not only disrupting the work that the 'good' bacteria are doing, but drying out and irritating our skin too.

Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology, adds "Our heads may love long, hot showers, but our skin does not. If skin appears red, looks flaky, dull, or feels itchy, then external factors may be contributing, such as excessive showering" (via Ditto if skin is dry or peeling.

Showering too much can irritate the skin

If the thought of following Dr. Hamblin's lead in giving up showering is absolutely not an option, there are still ways to help your skin out without getting too extreme. How about just showering less? If you're used to a morning shower, and then another one after your afternoon workout, how about giving up the morning rinse?

When showering, sticking to warm (not hot) water, limiting the length to a quick 5 – 10 minutes, and using a gentle cleanser only on the face, armpits, groin, and feet, can help skin hang on to more of its moisture and 'good' bacteria. Applying moisturizer while the skin is still damp helps too.

Obviously, the 'right' amount of showering will vary from person to person. Those who work up a sweat exercising daily, get physically dirty during the workday, or are exposed to allergens or dangerous chemicals, will likely want to shower more than someone with dry skin who works behind a desk.

Mary L. Stevenson, M.D., assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Health, says "The main reason that we shower is to wash away sweat and dead skin cells, remove dirt and debris, and prevent things like body odor" (via SELF). She also adds that, for most people, showering two or three times a week is really enough.