Some days, a long soak in a bubble bath is just what the doctor ordered. Other days, a spritz of dry shampoo and a clean T-shirt is the best you can do.
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But how many days should you really go without a shower? Dermatologist Shilpi Khetarpal, MD, shares a few tips to help us clean up those questionable habits.
There’s no magic formula for how often you should break out the body wash. Someone who runs five miles every day probably needs to lather up more often than someone who rarely breaks a sweat. Some people have oilier skin and hair than others. Others are cursed with extra-stinky pits.
But in general, Dr. Khetarpal says to aim for showering once a day. “We come in contact with thousands of allergens every day. Showering rinses off those allergens, as well as bacteria and viruses,” she says.
You don’t have to overdo it though. Showering too often can strip skin of moisture, says Dr. Khetarpal. “Some people shower in the morning, after the gym, then again before bed. That’s not necessary, and can be very drying and irritating for your skin.”
Do you smell something? The biggest sign of skipping showers is obvious. But body odor isn’t the only reason to clean up your act.
Not showering enough can cause other problems, Dr. Khetarpal says. Here are just a few of them:
The way you shower is just as important as how often you do it, Dr. Khetarpal says. She shares these tips to keep skin clean and healthy:
Very hot water feels good on a chilly day, but it can make your skin dry and itchy. “Water should be warm but not too hot,” she says.
It’s sad but true: “Fragrance pulls moisture out of the skin, so avoid any of those good-smelling soaps and body washes,” says Dr. Khetarpal. Whether or not your skin is easily irritated, she recommends reaching for products with labels like “gentle cleanser” or “sensitive skin.”
Unless you’ve been mud wrestling, you probably don’t need to use soap on your entire body. “Generally, the only areas that you need to wash with soap are your face, armpits and groin,” she says.
You don’t necessarily need to wash your hair every time you shower. Typically, shampooing two or three times a week will help keep your scalp healthy and hair happy, Dr. Khetarpal says. But you may need to lather up more often if your hair is oily, and less if it’s dry. (In between, your beloved dry shampoo can pinch-hit.)
After a shower or bath, you should rub on a fragrance-free moisturizer, she says. “Pat dry and put on moisturizer within three minutes to trap moisture in the skin and maintain a healthy skin barrier.”
So what’s the takeaway? Shower every day, or close to it. Your skin (and your coworkers) will thank you.