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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 year, 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?
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 told Shop TODAY.
Dr. Mary Stevenson, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, shared 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 said, "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 said, 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 added.
Though Stevenson said 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 skin and can disrupt your skin barrier, Lamb said. "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 said. So typically showering multiple times a day isn't a great idea, she shared.
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 they soap up their entire body, which is really not necessary," Stevenson said. "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 said. 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 said.
Another common mistake? Taking long, steamy showers. "We like to say keep it to three minutes and keep it lukewarm," Stevenson said.
Because showering can be so harsh on 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 said. "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
Lamb said that Dove makes a range of cream-based cleansers that she says cleanse well while still moisturizing skin. This Deep Moisture body wash from the brand has an impressive average 4.8-star rating. "It's the only thing that doesn’t irritate my very sensitive skin," one reviewer wrote. According to the company, the formula includes a mix of nourishing ingredients and plant-based moisturizers that absorb deep into the top layers of skin to boost hydration.
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 been enriched with the brand's popular Moisturizing Cream to hydrate skin while cleansing.
Ceramides are another helpful ingredient to look out for in your bath products, Stevenson said. 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 the ingredient can help boost hydration. This body wash from CeraVe features ceramides along with hydrating hyaluronic acid.
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 8,000 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.
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."
Currently the No. 1 bestselling bath soap on Amazon, the Dove Beauty Bar has an average 4.8-star rating from more than 20,000 ratings. 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 14 bars of soap, so your beauty cabinet will be well-stocked, though, you can also get it in packs of two or six.
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