In my last few years of adulthood, I’ve started questioning a lot of the beauty myths I’ve been told my whole life. “You don’t need sunscreen inside!” Debunked. “You need to wash your hair every day!” Debunked. “The only way to get rid of a zit is to pop it!” Debunked times one million. “You don’t have to shave past your knees!” Actually, still in-tact. And most recently, I started to question a very common beauty myth: do we actually have to shower every day? I’m sure you’ve wondered too. I mean, I’ve done it before, and my body didn’t implode. But is a daily shower as important as our moms have told us since we were kids?
To be clear, if I stink, I shower, but do I need to add my entire shower routine into my day when I feel (and smell) as clean as a whistle? My first guess: probably not. So I reached out to an expert to get to the bottom of it, and I know you’ll appreciate what she had to say. Spoiler: I sure did.
Do you really have to shower every day?
According to Dr. Charlotte Birnbaum, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, nope! Taking a shower removes dirt, pollution, oil, and sweat from our skin, so how often you shower depends on your activity level and your skin type. “If you have dry or sensitive skin, I recommend showering every 2-3 days,” Dr. Birnbaum said. “On the other hand, if you have a more oily skin type and are acne-prone, it is important to rinse off to avoid breakouts.” She explained that typically, showering every other day should be enough to keep your skin clean and irritation-free.
What to do after a workout
Dr. Birnbaum recommended showering any time after excessive sweating to avoid breakouts or skin irritation. However, try to avoid using too much soap. If you know you’re going to work out at 6 pm tonight, try not to shower that morning before work. Showering too much can dry out your skin, especially if you’re not using the right products, showering for too long, or the water is too hot (more on all of this in a moment!).
And of course, if you’re visibly dirty, please shower. It’s better to have a little dryness than to smell, of course.
How to limit skin irritation
Dr. Birnbaum provided a few tips to keep your skin in check while showering.
- Avoid really hot water. Instead, shower in warm or cool water.
- Limit the length of your shower to 5-10 minutes so you’re not standing in the water for too long.
- Use your fingertips to lather and spread soap on the body instead of a washcloth or a loofah. (If not a new or clean one every time, these can harbor lots of bacteria and basically just spread around all the dirt and gunk you removed from your last shower.)
- Opt for a gentle, fragrance-free (or naturally fragranced) soap.
- After showering, blot your skin dry with a towel instead of rubbing it. This can lead to extra exfoliation that you don’t want when your skin is wet and vulnerable. If you have a microfiber towel, even better.
- While your skin is still slightly damp, apply any moisturizing lotions or creams.
Fun fact: according to Dr. Birnbaum, you don’t actually have to use soap all over the whole body. Again, if you just went on a week-long camping trip and are visibly dirty, you’ll want to lather up all over. But otherwise, Dr. Birnbaum said you only need soap on the underarms and groin. If your skin gets dry and irritated easily, try this technique during your regular, not-after-workouts-or-camping showers.
Shower essentials we live and die for
Treat bumps, target hyperpigmentation, and polish away dry patches with this dermatologist-tested, fragrance-free, and sensitive-skin approved body exfoliator. AHAs and pumice beads work hand-in-hand alongside pomegranate enzymes to gently polish the skin and promote cell renewal.
Plant oils, niacinamide, and five esssential ceramides make up this 2% physical exfoliant bar that is dermatologist-tested, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and suitable for all skin types. If you struggle with ingrown hairs, keratosis pilaris, or dry and rough patches, this bar can help exfoliate and smooth your skin.
Jojoba, shea butter, and coconut oil work together to quickly condition and moisturize your skin. The whipped formula of this moisturizer is activated with water in the shower, so before you turn the water off, apply it to wet skin and then rinse quickly before stepping out of the shower and patting dry.
Fragrance-free and suitable for all skin types, this body lotion is weightless while still providing softness and hydration. Aloe vera helps visibly balance any irritation you might have and coconut oil acts as a sealant to lock in moisture. This lotion is straight-forward and effective. What's not to love?