Cleanliness is next to godliness, right? Well it turns out that not everyone thinks so. There seems to be somewhat of a movement, a small one I gather, of people who are foregoing not only daily showers but the use of deodorant as well. I found this out by reading an article, The Great Unwashed, in The New York Times recently. People give a variety of reasons for making these lifestyle choices: a need to conserve water, potential health risks attributed to mass market deodorants (it should be pointed out that these concerns have been dismissed by experts time and again, see the actual article for more details), the feeling that one just doesn’t smell or is dirty, and that bathing daily contributes to skin conditions such as eczema. Of course the part of the article that really caught my attention was the part about how bathing daily may over dry or hurt your skin:
Of late, researchers have discovered that just as the gut contains good bacteria that help it run more efficiently, so does our skin brim with beneficial germs that we might not want to wash down the drain. “Good bacteria are educating your own skin cells to make your own antibiotics,” said Dr. Richard Gallo, chief of the dermatology division at the University of California, San Diego, and “they produce their own antibiotics that kills off bad bacteria.”
Some people have long complained that showering too much makes their skin drier or more prone to flare-ups of, say, eczema, and Dr. Gallo said that scientists are just beginning to understand why. “It’s not just removing the lipids and oils on your skin that’s drying it out,” he said. It could be “removing some of the good bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance of skin.”
Now there is definitely something to the fact that daily bathing, especially in the winter, might dry your skin. As the temperature drops so does the moisture level in the air all of which contributes to drier skin. I probably don’t even need to point that out – you can feel it. So if your skin becomes dry, perhaps even flaky and itchy, during the winter should you stop bathing daily? I’ll leave that decision up to you, but I certainly don’t think that you need it. Be sure to use a shower wash that contains moisturizing ingredients and make sure the water in the shower isn’t scalding hot. Hot and very hot water can dry out the skin. Consider limiting the time you spend in the shower too since spending too much time in the shower can also dry out your skin (and that helps conserve water as well if that is important to you). NEVER use bar soap to wash your face or body! Bar soap is highly alkaline so it is very drying. Immediately after exiting the shower and drying off (and try not to rub your body too strongly with your towel, be gentle) apply a rich moisturizer (my favorite, as I’ve already mentioned in this blog many times, is Trader Joe’s A Midsummer Night’s Cream Extra Dry Formula. I’m still searching for the perfect hand cream. If I ever find it I’ll be sure to write about it) all over your body but not your face. Treating your face is a totally different story. See below for a tip of treating dry skin on your face during the winter.
If you find that your face feels very dry or extra dry in the winter forego washing it in the morning (but in the morning only, still wash your face at night). Instead use a soft washcloth moistened in warm water all over your face in the morning or better yet use a toner that contains moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid (if the toner has antioxidants in it too even better). For more information about toners please see my earlier post: Toner: What Is It? Do You Need One?. The posts includes some product recommendations as well.
And for more tips on taking care of your skin during the winter please see my post: Winter Skincare Tips or Don’t Put Away Your Sunscreen.