Several months ago, we started a series called Tips for Healthier Skin and a Healthier You. In the first two installments, we explored how both staying hydrated and your diet can affect your complexion and your health. This installment looks at bathing.
The idea came to me as I stood under the warm shower, trying to banish a bit of the winter chill. Obvious questions immediately came to mind: Shower or bath? Everyday or not? Soap or no soap? What’s best for us and our skin?
Shower vs Bath
Environmentally, it’s a no brainer. A responsible shower (limiting your shower to 7 minutes or less, and using a shower-head that delivers 3.5 GPM or less) will use considerably less water than just about any bath.There’s no way round that.
But we’re more concerned with the impact on our health and skin in this article. So let’s see what else showers have going for them, compared to baths.
Both clean equally well. Science has proven this. Even so, most people in our country “feel cleaner” when they shower. And how people feel can have an impact on their health. If taking a bath leaves you feeling yucky, or stresses you out, then shower instead. In other words, do whichever you are more comfortable doing.
Whether you shower or take a bath, keep these things in mind.
- Too hot, too long, and/or too often can spell trouble for your skin, and possibly your overall health. If you regularly do these things, you strip the natural oils and beneficial bacteria from your skin. This can cause itchy, dry skin that is prone to cracking. It will also aggravate many skin conditions, such as dermatitis and eczema. It can even give illness and infection a way to enter our bodies. So skip the steamy hot water, and go with warm or tepid water. Limit your time to 5-10 minutes at the most. And consider bathing only when it’s necessary.
- Consider hitting your hot-spots with the soap, and just rinsing off the rest.Your hot spots are the parts of your body that produce secretions and/or get stinky: Your pits, privates, bottom, and feet. If you are prone to acne, then also soap any areas where you break out (face, chest, back, neck, and/or butt checks) after you rinse off any hair products.
- Failing to rinse properly can cause or aggravate itchy skin, dermatitis, or other skin conditions. Make sure to rinse so you don’t go through the day covered in a layer of soap, body wash, shampoo, or conditioner. These products weren’t designed to be worn on your skin, but rather to aid in cleansing. This goes for all you bath takers too. Give yourself a quick rinse with clean tepid water before drying off.
- Always remember to apply a moisturizing lotion within a few minutes of bathing. This will help lock in any moisture absorbed by your skin as you bathed. Our favorite is More Bees Solid Lotion .
This brings us to the question of how often. Should you bathe once a day, once a week, once a month, or never at all?
It’s all about balance. Bathing everyday is too often for many (see point 2 above), and unnecessary for most. Experts agree that for the sake of health and healthy skin, most of us really only need to bathe 1-2 times a week. This grosses most Americans out. We’ve been raised to think that at least 1 shower or bath a day is a must. But studies have shown that for most people, routine washing of hands coupled with daily changing of clothes is enough to keep illness causing germs in check.
Of course, if you have a really nasty job, or get absolutely filthy when you play, bathing more often might be for you, just keep it short and sweet (again, see point 2 above).
So which is best. The shower or the bath? We leave it to you to decide which is best for you in each given situation. In my opinion, there are reasons why showering may be better overall. That said, there are some clear cut situations where the bath wins hands down. We’ll explore those situations in our next installment of the series.