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How often should you shower? It might be less than you think, according to derms

Read this before you suds up your loofah.
Beautiful Plus Size Woman Applying Body Lotion after Taking a Shower
FreshSplash / Getty Images

For the most part, your personal hygiene habits are exactly that — personal. While some people are fine with intermittent showering, others can’t start their day (or head to bed) without at least a quick rinse.

Most of us think we have a pretty good idea about what our own bodies require by now, but some recent internet debate has caused us to reconsider. Within the last few years, both celebrities and social media users have caused quite a stir when talking about how often they bathe — and how exactly they do it.

So, are there really clear-cut recommendations for how you go about cleaning yourself? We turned to the experts to find out.

How often should you shower? | Can you shower too much? | How to wash your body in the shower | Best body washes and soaps | How we chose | Meet the experts

Best body washes and soaps

How often should you shower?

Here's the thing: There's no real scientific evidence to show that you need to bathe or shower after a certain period of time — it's mostly a matter of personal preference, Dr. Angela Lamb, director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice tells Shop TODAY.

Dr. Mary Stevenson, dermatological surgeon and associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, shares similar thoughts, adding that how often you should be showering depends on a number of factors, including your skin, your age and your activity level. Generally, she says "you should be showering, bathing or cleansing yourself every two to three days." Though, if you're working out or engaging in an activity where you are sweating a lot, you may have to shower more often.

The biggest problem that may stem from not showering enough? The stink. Some people don't produce as much body odor as others, Lamb says, so from a social perspective, they may be able to get away without showering for longer. And others may simply not feel the need to wash at the first smell of funk. "A lot of how much we bathe in modern society and culture is really cultural," she adds.

Additionally, Stevenson says that the thick layer of oil on your skin can potentially predispose you to folliculitis, an infection of your hair follicles.

Can you shower too much?

Though showering too frequently can also cause some issues. The process can be drying for the skin and can disrupt your skin barrier, Lamb says. "You can actually make yourself more prone to infection if you over-wash because the skin is protected with some really nice natural bacteria and things that protect it and you want to preserve those," she says. So typically showering multiple times a day isn't a great idea, she shares.

What people tend to do is they soap up their entire body, which is really not necessary.

Dr. Mary Stevenson

How to wash your body in the shower

When it comes to how you're showering, you may be surprised to hear that you actually don't need to wash your entire body. "What people tend to do is soap up their entire body, which is really not necessary," Stevenson says. "You really only need soap in your armpits, your groin and your feet. Places that you get stinky." Soap is a detergent and it helps to break down the top layer of oil and get it off your skin. By soaping up everywhere, you remove some of these oils, making yourself more prone to dry, sensitive skin — especially during these colder winter months, Stevenson adds. Of course, there are rare occasions where you may need to give other areas of your body a scrub, like if you went on a hike or jumped in mud puddles with the kids, but for the most part, you don't need to soap up your legs, arms or abdomen, she says.

Another common mistake? Taking long, steamy showers. "We like to say keep it to three minutes and keep it lukewarm," Stevenson says.

Because showering can be so harsh on the skin, both experts agreed that you want to focus on using hydrating products. "Using those more gentle products while you're washing can be extremely helpful," Stevenson says. "One kind of cheat sheet is to look at stuff for sensitive skin and for babies because usually, baby products are formulated for sensitive skin. But that being said, you also want to talk to a dermatologist about what ingredients might be irritating, and always look at the ingredient list." According to Stevenson, you should opt for products without fragrances or dyes.

With all that in mind, we're sharing some of the best products to use in the shower, according to both experts and reviewers.

Best body washes and soaps

Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash

Lamb says that Dove makes a range of cream-based cleansers that she says cleanse well while still moisturizing skin. According to the company, the formula of this Deep Moisture Body Wash includes a mix of nourishing ingredients and plant-based moisturizers that absorb deep into the top layers of skin to boost hydration.

Vanicream Cleansing Bar for Sensitive Skin

Lamb also likes Vanicream's cleansing bar. Formulated for sensitive skin, the product is free from dyes, fragrances, parabens and other unwanted ingredients. It's also enriched with the brand's popular Moisturizing Cream to hydrate skin while cleansing.

Native Unscented Body Wash

The brand says this body wash can give you a "luxury" cleansing experience, but without the added fragrances or irritative ingredients that normally come with them. There are no dyes, sulfates, phthalates or parabens. Just what you need to get soft, hydrated skin.

Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash

This body wash from the dermatologist-recommended skin care brand contains aloe vera and says it'll leave your skin feeling clean without stripping it of its natural oils. One reviewer loves how gentle it feels, "I have very sensitive skin and not only was this a relief, it felt like a recovery."

CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash

Ceramides are other helpful ingredients to look out for in your bath products, Stevenson says. A type of lipid, ceramides are naturally found in the top layer of skin and help lock in moisture. So using a skin care product with these ingredients can help boost hydration. This body wash from CeraVe features ceramides along with hydrating hyaluronic acid.

The Honest Company 2-in-1 Cleansing Shampoo and Body Wash

According to the clean beauty brand, this hypoallergenic body wash is made for sensitive skin and is gentle enough for babies. And it can even be used as a shampoo, which is helpful if you're looking to cut your shower time down to three minutes.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar

If you gravitate towards cleansing bars, rather than a body wash, this option is still packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid. It has a near five-star rating and many reviewers like using it for both their face and body.

Eucerin Advanced Cleansing Body & Face Cleanser

This cleanser does double-duty, serving as a wash for both your body and face. According to the brand, the formula, which won a Shop TODAY Beauty Award, helps keep your skin from drying out and preserves your skin's barrier.

Burt's Bees Baby Shampoo & Wash

You don't need to be a new parent to appreciate this top-rated body wash. The Burt's Bees Baby Shampoo & Wash has more than 1,000 five-star ratings, from parents as well as adults who have used the product on their sensitive skin. It features a blend of soothing ingredients including aloe vera, vitamin E and shea butter.

Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Body Wash

Thousands of Amazon shoppers have raved about this gentle moisturizing body wash from Aveeno. "This is the most effective product I’ve ever bought for my eczema," wrote one verified reviewer who had been using the product for a year. "It soothes, cleans, and moisturizes all in one! I hardly ever have to put lotion on after anymore."

Dove Hypoallergenic Beauty Bar

Currently the No. 2 bestselling bath soap on Amazon, the Dove Beauty Bar has a nearly five-star rating from more than 5,000 reviewers. According to the brand, it's formulated with ultra-mild cleansers and moisturizing cream to leave skin feeling soft and nourished. This pack comes with eight bars of soap, so your beauty cabinet will be well-stocked, though, you can also get it in packs of six, four or two.

Odele Ultra Sensitive Body Wash

If you deal with eczema flare-ups, listen up. This fragrance-free body wash is so effective that it's been accepted by the National Eczema Association. The formula was created to work well with sensitive skin types to hydrate and balance its PH levels.

Sol De Janeiro Brazilian 4-Play Moisturizing Body Wash

If you aren't sensitive to fragrances and want something that will leave you smelling great, try this body wash that's full of skin-friendly benefits. It was named the best moisturizing body wash during the 2023 Shop TODAY Beauty Awards. While it's at a higher price point, all the reviewers noted that because of its size, the bottle should last a while.

How we chose

We selected the best body washes and soaps based on skin type, fragrance preference and featured ingredients. We followed dermatologist recommendations, Shop TODAY Beauty Award winners and shopper reviews.

Meet the experts