by Adam Hurly for GQ
Hair and skincare experts weigh in.
You shower every day—unless you don’t. Which is fine, unless it isn’t. Right?
So: should you shower every day? Do you need to?
Your gut response to this question is probably “yeah, obviously”. Because who wants to stink? Who wants greasy hair? If you poop, you gotta shower! If you wear the same sweaty shoes all day, you gotta get sudsy! If you got sneezed on by Toby the IT guy, then you gotta disinfect, fast!
But could it better to just wash your hands, cleanse your face, change your clothes, and rinse your hair? Sometimes, yes it would be! It depends.
That’s the trick: It’s inconclusive. Usually when we dole out grooming advice, one or two opinions are all that’s needed. That, or we’re already experts ourselves. In this case, it felt more appropriate to survey a group of hair- and skincare pros for a research-y data sample. As predicted, they didn’t all agree entirely. But they all sort of agreed in the grand scheme of things. The overall conclusion: “It depends.” (Great, back to square one.)
So read up, and learn when it’s a “yes,” when it’s a definitive “no,” and how to find your perfect shower balance.
It depends on climate
“If you live in a dry climate or in a place with harsh winters, then excess hot water and too much soap use can be drying and irritating to the skin. However, in humid areas, if you are more acne prone, or if you work out frequently, showering daily will be in your best interest to keep away acne, body odor, or other skin problems such as common fungal rashes.” Dr. Kendra Watson of Dakota Dermatology in Sioux Falls, SD
It depends on your lifestyle
“If you are a sweaty, smelly guy that likes to hit the gym, then for all our sake, please shower daily. This will decrease risk of clogged pores, acne and odor. “ Dr. James Collyer, of Modern Dermatology in Seattle
“I recommend that all men shower once a day. Depending on their exercise routine, I recommend twice to some: It’s always best to rinse off excess oil and sweat after exercise. A shower also helps rinse off any environmental contaminants. These contaminants can include bacteria, yeast, fungus, and chemicals like pollution or pesticides,” Dr. Christopher O’Connell of Skin Associates in South Florida in Miami
It depends on your genes
“For those with normal to oily skin, I would recommend a daily bathing in order to minimize the risk of infection, reduce body odor, and avoid acne. Men with sensitive skin, such as those with eczema or dry skin, may wish to avoid bathing daily. Soap and water tend to strip the skin of its natural moisturizing factors, therefore daily bathing can make already dry skin and sensitive skin even worse. Instead, I recommend simply rinsing most of the body with water and focusing on the underarms and groin areas with soap.” Dr. Ted Lain of Dr. Ted Lain Dermatology in Austin, TX
“Most guys shouldn’t shampoo their hair every day. Excessive shampooing strips your hair of good oils that help with shine and volume. Over-washing can cause your scalp to overproduce these oils resulting an oily mane, or under produce causing dry skin. This might be why you think you have dandruff. Try washing three or four times a week with a quality shampoo instead. Cutting back might feel weird at first, but after a few weeks your hair will never be the same. “ Lauren Rachel, men’s grooming expert at Boardroom Salon for Men (in various US locations)
“If you have a hair length that needs styling or a scalp condition such as seborrheic dermatitis that requires medicated shampoos, it can be helpful to shower every day to keep the hair and scalp healthy and styled.” Dr. Kendra Watson
“From a health perspective, the answer is an easy: No. The human body was not designed and nor does it require to have its natural oils and the ‘good’ bacteria stripped away on a daily basis. Avoiding occlusive and synthetic clothing and staying within a healthy weight (to minimize occlusion within the folds of skin) should be sufficient to avoid any skin issues that may arise from only bathing a few times per week. In fact, there may be some downsides to showering daily: Excessive showering can lead to dry skin and a disruption of the natural pH and ‘ecosystem’ of bacteria and yeast. This disruption of the natural barrier can open you up to more irritants, allergens, and pathogens.” Dr. Jeremy Fenton of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City
The general consensus:
It’s probably a good idea to shower daily. But take a short, warm (not hot!) shower.
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“Showering daily isn’t necessary for good skin health but isn’t a bad idea either. If you choose to shower daily, avoid using harsh, drying soaps and exfoliators, like loofas and washcloths, that can overly dry the skin and cause itchiness, focus on the smelly areas of the body (groin, underarms, feet), and moisturize right after the shower to lock in the moisture.” Dr. James Collyer
“From an American culture perspective, you may be pushing it if you don’t reduce your odor on a daily basis, but that can be done without a full shower: Use a washcloth to clean the odorous parts such as underarms, groin, buttocks, and feet. Showering every day comes mostly from cultural norms and society; there is no medical or health reason to do it.” Dr. Jeremy Fenton
“Think, ‘quality over quantity’. Invest in quality grooming products with lasting results. Your hair and skin will thank you. Nonetheless, a hot shower is a sure confidence booster, so be your own judge and figure out the grooming routine that works best for you and your lifestyle.” Lauren Rachel
“Showers don’t need to be long. I recommend 5 minutes or so. I like my patients to use pretty mild soaps or body washes. I recommend Aesop’s Coriander Seed Body Cleanser and Oribe’s shampoos and conditioners.” Dr. Christopher O’Connell