Open Thread: Thoughts on Bathing

AOriginally uploaded to Flickr by happydacks. few days ago the NYT had an interesting article about people who don’t shower regularly. Reading it, I was particularly intrigued about the woman who, they said, was a “petite, put-together brunette,” who “showers ‘no more than three times a week,’ she said, and less if she hasn’t been ‘working out vigorously.’  So I thought I’d start an open thread… how often do you shower or bathe?  What are your thoughts on how that affects professionalism and decorum?

For my $.02 — I shower every day, although I’ve noticed in my older years that I don’t need to wash my hair every day.  (Still, the longest I can go without washing my hair is only 2 days — after 3 I need dry shampoo, at the very least, but I usually only do that if I”m trying to make a blowout last.)

Originally uploaded to Flickr by happydacks.

Comments

  1. The woman quoted was not me, but could have been. I generally shower 3 or 4 times a week in the winter, very often only 3. I wear my hair in a ponytail every day, so it doesn’t matter that much if it is shampooed daily. I have dry skin and scalp, and showering daily doesn’t actually seem to be good for it. Unfortunately, I drive to and from work and sit at a desk all day, so I’m not working up much of a sweat except at that gym. Showering daily seems like a waste of time, a waste of water/energy, and unnecessary.

    • This is me too. I shower and wash my hair probably about 3-4 times a week. My skin gets REALLY dry and showering daily makes my skin very itchy and flaky. I’ll use dry shampoo if necessary but generally my hair can go 48 hours without washing and still look nice. I actually get more compliments on my ‘dirty hair’ days.

      That said, if I go to the gym or do anything beyond work/the usual errands, I always shower that day.

      • You can always just wash your hair in the sink/tub.

      • What exactly is “dry shampoo”?

        • Dry shampoo usually comes in an aerosol can, and it’s a kind of powder that you rub into your scalp and hair to pick up excess oil. Then you brush or towel it out. You can buy small trial cans at Sephora, and I think Tressemme now makes a not expensive version at CVS.

          • I use baby powder on my hair before going to bed. It works just as well and it is much cheaper.

          • I’m in love with the Tressemme version. It’s super affordable & works better than a lot of the more expensive brands of dry shampoo.

            The concept of using a dry shampoo was a little weird to me at first, but now I’m in love with it. It’s even good to use on clean hair when you need a little texture for styling.

          • This is very interesting. My fiance has very very oily hair, and I’m wondering if this will help him as well. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

          • Dry shampoo has always seemed to weird to me, if you’re going to go to that much trouble, you might as well just wash your hair (I realize that drying time may be a factor).

            If you have curly or kinky hair that must be handled wet, dry shampoo is not an option.

          • baby powder also works wonders! I usually put my hair up on the dirty days, but baby powder makes it look really clean and voluminous even up in a ponytail. Just sprinkle a bunch of it on top of your head, get some above your ears and make sure you get it down to the root. Turn your head upside-down over the bathtub and shake the powder out using your hands. Finish with a blow-drier and a brush to get out the rest. Words WONDERS!

  2. Everyday unless I am literally not leaving the house that day (i.e., it’s a Sunday and I’m hungover). Sometimes twice a day if I work out. I live in a very hot/humid city in the south and “glisten” at least a little bit everyday from at least March-October (southern girls don’t “sweat”). I also can’t afford to cool my poorly-insulated, 12-foot-ceiling 1940′s apartment down to my optimal sleeping temperature of 68, so I probably glisten a little at night too. Maybe I am just a little more hot-natured than average, but I can’t imagine going more than a day without feeling the need for a shower. Maybe if it was below freezing for more than 2 days out of the year.

    I usually wash my hair everyday. I might skip a casual weekend day every now and then, or a workday once every few weeks if I oversleep, but my hair just doesn’t look good the second day unless it’s the day after a salon visit.

  3. I normally shower once a day – but skip days on the weekend when I don’t need too. Sometimes in the winter I switch to just washing my hair in the tub and doing a full shower every 2-3 days. My hair is really fine and can only go 48 hours max w/o a shower.

    I broke my leg last year and was only doing a full shower once every 7-10 days bc of the cast and I didn’t smell, or feel particularly gross (it was in the winter though, so I wasn’t really sweating). I washed my hair most days and did a quick underarm scrub too.

  4. At least once. More on days when I workout, run, hike, etc.

    • Anonymous :

      Same for me (every morning is a shower and wash hair after morning workout, then another shower in the evening after evening workout – whether or not hair gets washed depends on how sweaty it is, since I know I”ll be washing it in the morning regardless).

    • Same here. Cannot imagine not showering every day.

      Once every morning for sure. Often in the evening/night as well.
      I don’t wash my hair every time I shower though.

    • Same. I am a smelly person and absolutely need to shower regularly. My boyfriend, somehow, just needs to rinse off once in a while and never ever smells, gets greasy, etc. I think it’s just a body chemistry thing and there’s no one right answer.

    • Same here. I shower at least twice a day and have to wash my hair every day. I’m also fairly hot-natured and sweat a lot.

  5. Depends on the week.

    Most of the time… I shower almost every day except when I’m really pressed for time and need the extra 20 minutes of sleep or just really want to lay in bed hitting snooze. I wash my hair about 3-5 times a week depending on the week’s activities.

    Above goes out the window during (1) camping weekends or weekends at the cabin when I don’t shower, wash face, or do any beautifying rituals for as long as I’m there; and (2) those increasingly rare weeks when I’m much better about working out – I’m as swimmer and need to shower and wash hair to get rid of damaging chlorine.

  6. Ideally I shower five days out of seven and wash my hair once a week. But every month I have midlife-related issues that can get me into the shower twice a day. I feel more “on” when I’m freshly-clean and dry, whether I’m headed to work or not.

  7. I always shower and wash my hair on days when I exercise enough to work up a sweat. (If I work out at night, but plan to do so again in the morning, I may just wash off my body at night and not do my hair, since that will be taken care of 12 hours later or whatever.)

    If I don’t feel sweaty, I don’t shower as often. This means that when it isn’t super-hot, and I am not in an exercise mode, I might shower every 2-3 days.

    Sometimes, when I feel icky in only certain parts (like when it is that time of the month, or when I have been cooking and gotten food all up my forearms, or my feet smell gross, etc.), I will shower but not wash my hair. However, I have curly-to-frizzy hair, and the humidity of the shower isn’t great for its appearance, so this isn’t the best option.

    Also, I generally prefer to shower at night (mainly so I can sleep later in the morning and don’t have to compete with DH, who always showers in the morning), even though my hair definitely looks better before it’s been slept on.

    A hairdresser once encouraged me to use head-sweat and salts instead of shampoo (to just wet my hair and rub it in my scalp oils). I tried this, but I found that I got head-acne and my hair became somewhat limp.

    I use Bumble & Bumble curly hair shampoo and conditioner, but sparingly, because it is pricey.

    • Anonymous Poser :

      I’ve recently developed wavy and frizzy hair, and though I am not completely following the “curly girl” regimen, I do still like the scalp scrub she recommends: 1 tbs brown sugar mixed with 3 tbs conditioner. I expect it will help my usually flaky scalp, this winter. She recommends it once a week, but some do it more often. I would think daily would be too often for a scrub. YMMV.

      • Anonymous Poser :

        Oh! The scalp scrub is to be used in place of shampoo.

        • I have straight hair that needs to be washed every day – mainly to style it – but my daughter has curly red hair (truly enviable long red ringlets, actually) and I have found the Curly Girl book to be so helpful. I highly recommend that book.
          We are not going the no-shampoo route with her because she’s a kid and kids do get dirty, but I learned to wash her hair much less often than I do my own, use massive amounts of conditioner, only comb it when it’s completely wet, and in between washings, refresh the curls with a water spray bottle and my fingers.

    • I have the book, and I like some of the suggestions. (I’ve started drying my hair with a t-shirt instead of a towel and I think it makes a difference.) But I think maybe my scalp isn’t as dry as the typical curly-headed person’s. My Devachon (sp?) person at first tried to get me to stop shampooing or buy the no-poo, but then when she actually inspected my hair, she conceded that I could probably use real shampoo. Which I have chosen to do.

      • Anonymous Poser :

        Who would have thought that using something other than a regular towel for drying your hair could make such a difference? I actually splurged on a microfiber towel–TJ Maxx has some good ones for cheap. I use non-sulfate-containing shampoo about once a week, now, because I do have the standard dryness (weird after years of oily hair!).

  8. I usually shower 3-4 times a week… my hair looks a little more limp on the day after the shower, but it never looks greasy, maybe I’ll just wear a ponytail on the second day. If I am going somewhere important, I will always shower and do my hair before, of course. For me it is a time issue, drying my hair takes sooo long, and wearing a shower cap makes my naturally wavy hair kink up and wave with the steam – not pretty.

  9. I shower every day that I exercise, and I exercise almost every day. On a day that I don’t work out, I probably won’t shower, and the only thing that I notice is that my hair is easier to put up, because it’s dirtier. If you have fine hair, it’s a nightmare to style when it’s clean.

    I will say that my take on that article was that relying on strangers and friends to tell you you’re stinky is not an entirely effective strategy. How often do people write into advice columnists asking for help on telling a co-worker that he smells? I know that I tried a new natural deoderant in college, and finally realized that it was not working and that I REALLY smelled. My roommate admitted she’d been too embarrassed to tell me.

    (on which note, has anyone EVER found a natural deoderant that works?)

    • Anonymous :

      I use Crystal brand deodorant, and I found that the roll-on version works significantly better than the “original” crystal. I use pomegranate flavor, found in CVS.

    • The trick to natural deoderant is detox. You actually have to work to get the old chemical deoderant out of your pores. It takes a long time (like a month!) of using natrual deoderant and smelling bad, but once that is done the natural stuff works fine.

      • Oh man, really? I was really interested in trying it, but a month detox? Maybe when the weather gets colder…

        • Anonymous Poser :

          I’ve never done the detox. I’ve found that some natural deodorants work well for me, like Kiss My Face Liquid Rock Roll-On Deodorant Fragrance Free, and others–various Tom’s of Maine deodorants–don’t work as well. So I’ll wear the Kiss My Face deodorant even to work in seasons other than summer (I live in the humid South and frankly wear only regular deodorants in the summer), and other natural deodorants only on days when I’m off and/or only in the winter.

          Some natural deodorants don’t work at all for me, so I think it’s largely a matter of figuring out which ingredients work with your body chemistry.

          • Tom’s of Maine was, indeed, the one i had my biggest failed experiment with. Not touching that again…

          • Tom’s of Maine worked for me for about 2 or 3 years if I wasn’t exercising.

            Then is mysteriously stopped working – no idea what happened.

          • Anonymous Poser :

            I find that whatever deodorant I’m using, if I use it *exclusively* for a long period of time, will become ineffective.

      • Hm, I don’t think my life as a biglawyer can accommodate a month of stinkiness. Oh well.

        • Anonymous Poser :

          To be clearer: I don’t know that a “detox” is necessary for everyone. I even alternate use of a typical deodorant with a natural one on different weeks and sometimes even different *days*, and if the natural deodorant is one of the ones I know works for me (I test them on a day off when I don’t have any big plans), I have no problems.

          • to be clear, I was a life-long mitchum user. Depending on what you used to do and how your body chemistry works, you might not have as long of a transistion as I experienced. I guess my point was to say if you are trying to go with a natural deodorant, don’t give up thinking “it doesn’t work” without taking some time for your body chemistry to adjust. for me, it finally did and I smell better now than I did in the old Mitchum days (at least I think I do!)

    • I went through a natural deodorant phase in college, and my roommate was NOT too embarrassed to tell me (thank goodness?). I think I could probably get away with using it in the winter, but I lived in Texas at the time and it just wasn’t happening.

  10. As someone with oily skin and baby-fine hair that looks unwashed about 5 hours after a shower, I can’t fathom going three days between showers. How do these people know they don’t smell? Have they asked their friends/family/coworkers?

    I grew up with one girl whose family bragged about how much water they saved by keeping individual showers to three times a week. No one had the heart to tell them that the subject of their family’s pungent body odor was a well known fact in our community.

    • This happens a lot. It’s hard to smell yourself, so do check in with others! It’s really uncomfortable to tell someone they smell. In fact, see http://www.slate.com/id/2273580/ (b0tt0m of the first page). That being said, some people don’t smell as much as others.

    • Chicago K :

      Same here. My hair looks stringy by night time most days. I can’t even wash it at night and have it look clean through out the entire next day.

      I definately shower every day – sometimes two or 3 times a day. When it is hot in the summer I like to shower before bed to help keep me cool. If I work out at lunch, I’ll shower then and I always, always shower in the morning.

      I have a walking commute, in the summer if I don’t shower at night, I at least wash my feet before bedtime – I’m sorry, but feet get dirty walking around in sandals and flip flops and I know that’s not just my body! The dirt comes from the street – yuck.

      I am so jealous of people who can go a week without showering. It would be really nice to just get up and go in the morning, and not to have to wash/dry and style hair every day.

    • I am the exact same way. I am sooo jealous of people who’s hair looks still looks fine 2 or even 3 days after watching. Alot of days, my hair is noticeably limper by the time I go to bed.
      I know there’s the whole “train your hair/skin” thing – been there, done that, didn’t work.
      I can kind of understand the thinking to not showering every day. Sometimes when I get in the shower, I’ll just let the hot water run over my body (my face gets super oily, the rest of me not as much).
      And I live in the very and humid lovely state of FL, anyone who doesn’t shower daily (or near daily) during the summer either (a) lacks sweat glands or (b) is just flat out gross.

  11. At least every day. In the winter I can get away with showering at night, so then I only shower once a day, but in the summer I need to shower in the morning. And I work out at least 4 times a week so on those days in the summer, I shower twice. On the other hand, my hair is color treated so I usually only use shampoo on it once a week- the other days I scrub my scalp with conditioner then work it through my hair. My hair is clean, but not overly dried out that way.

  12. I shower every single morning, I can remember skipping a day only twice (car accident, flu). I run about 4.5 miles every morning, so getting dressed without showering would feel uncomfortable and gross.

    I shampoo and condition 5 or 6 days a week, sometimes skipping a day if I will be working at home–but I still rinse and dry my hair that day. My hair is fine and straight, and it would look lank if I didn’t do anything at all.

    A morning shower helps me feel energized, fresh, and more ready to face the day. I don’t think I would feel “right” all day without one.

  13. I wash my hair 2 times a week – generally on Mondays and Thursdays. Unless I have an early meeting (7 am) like today, so I washed it last night. I usually shower every other day. More frequently, if I’ve gone running or its 90 degrees out and I started sweating merely going from the office to the house.

  14. I shower every weekday morning because it helps me wake up before work (and I find it easier to wash my face in the shower than at the sink). I only wash my hair about 2 mornings a week though unless I’ve had a particularly vigorous workout or something. During the weekends, I usually only shower once (again, unless I’ve had a vigorous workout). If I don’t go out at all during the weekends, I’ve actually been known not to shower at all. I don’t think I’m particularly smelly though…

  15. Lionheart :

    I shower three times a week. My husband is the same. He’s got dry skin but I would say I’m average.

  16. I typically shower everyday. During the winter I shower at night and dry my hair and then in the morning just wash my face and style my hair. My hair is long and curly and takes forever to dry! Usually once a week I will just shower the next morning and wash my body and face and put my hair in a bun (with the Spin Pin). Also sometimes on the weekends if I am home by myself with the kids I won’t shower, but I usually feel better if I do, so I don’t do that very often.

    In the summer I usually shower in the morning and either put my hair up wet or do a quick blow dry and use some sort of curling gel and just leave it curly.

  17. I shower every day, but only wash my hair about 3 times a week. I have a head of hair that is curly, baby fine, and very thick, which means any time my head hits a pillow for sleep, it wakes up like I put my finger in a light socket. Even if I don’t shampoo, I still get it wet. I also run five mornings a week and can’t imagine not showering after.

    Going w/o a daily shower may be fine for some people, but daily strategic washing is a must! I’m looking at you stinky pits, stinky feet, and um, stinky crotchual regions!

  18. Anon for this :

    Great post! When not working out, I tend to shower every other day. Sometimes I wash my hair when I shower, sometimes I don’t. I wash my hair at a minimum twice/week. I also live in a cold climate and tend to have dry skin. If I go to the gym, I do shower that night or the next morning before work. Occassionaly, 1 shower will be the night before and the next one will be the morning of so it seems longer than “every other day.” For ex. Shower on a Monday night (counts as Tuesday’s shower) skip Wednesday, shower Thursday morning.

  19. Lana Lang :

    I just couldn’t not shower every day. Same with hair. As someone mentioned above, I might not shower/wash my hair if I’m not leaving the house due to hangover or whatever reason. My hair gets totally greasy by day two and it would not be appropriate for work. I’m not a particularly sweaty/smelly person (I hope!) but I do always feel a little scuzzy when I wake up and don’t feel un-scuzzy until I have showered. This is also why showering or washing my hair at night would be completely pointless as I would just have to do it again in the morning.

    It totally is body chemistry though – when I was younger I definitely didn’t need to wash my hair every day!

  20. I shower everyday. I cannot fathom not doing so.
    I have a sensitive sense of smell and trust – people can tell when you haven’t showered.

    I have dry skin, so in the winter I shower at night, and slather on moisturizer and fresh clothes. I do my face and dress in the morning.

    In the summer I shower at least twice a day if I’ve been outside. I grew up in a tropical country where this was the norm.

  21. I shower every other day, which amounts to 3-4 times a week. I also wash my hair during this time. I really don’t sweat at all… and I don’t go to the gym, so I really don’t see the need to shower more than that. Plus my hair is super long, thick and wavy, so I just put a little water on it on day 2 and 3, it curls back up and looks fresh as a daisy!

  22. I am the poster in #34.

    For those of you who go to the gym every day but only wash it 3x a week… how does that work??? Doesn’t your hair get sweaty and smelly and look gross?? When I used to go to the gym, my showers AND hair-washing got upped to once a day.

    • By wash “it” I meant to write “your hair”

    • Anddd by 34 I mean 35. Man I’m on a ROLL this afternoon :)

    • I put my hair up, and also wear a headband. Also, if I don’t want to wash my hair, I will plan to do something less sweaty at the gym…for example lift weights or do yoga.

      But if I am kickboxing, then yes, I need to wash my hair afterward!

    • I rinse my hair and put a small amount of conditioner on the ends, per instructions of an erstwhile stylist.

    • Putting a gym towel around the back of my neck at the gym helps me stretch out hair washings. I sweat a LOT at the gym but that helps keep the bottom part of my hair from soaking it up and I also use the front ends to wipe my forehead…it helps. I have really thick hair that I usually only wash every 3 days or so.

  23. I shower & wash my hair every single day.
    If I don’t I feel gross & itchy. Also, I can’t wake up in the morning w/o a proper hot shower.

  24. skippy pea :

    I have to shower everyday! Its just basic hygien. It does not have to take long and you can use after shower oils or lotions to combat dry skin problems.

    Has anyone tried body brushing?

    • Anon for this :

      Your comment is a value-laden judgment. Are you a hygeine expert? I really don’t think someone who showers every other day is unclean.

    • Anonymous K :

      Not to be rude, but it’s obvious to me that some of the posters aren’t taking into account that everyone’s body is different. It’s also obvious that many of the posters have never dealt with the same type of dry skin I have (and I’m sure others have).

      Combat dry skin with lotions and oils? Ha! I have psoriasis that is very resistant to every type of lotion, spray, etc. except Clobex. I can use the Clobex on patches, but considering that it is an expensive prescription that my insurance only partially covers, there’s no way I could afford enough Clobex to cover my entire body. Pay $1,000/month for lotion and spray (as opposed to the $200 I already pay) or not shower every day? Hmmm…not a tough choice for me.

      FWIW, every single roommate and SO I’ve ever lived with has been surprised that I don’t shower every day, and these people knew me for a while before living with me, so obviously they couldn’t tell when I hadn’t showered. I think the comments about being able to tell when someone hasn’t showered are just…off. Obviously you can tell when some people haven’t showered, but I’m willing to bet that those are you who are so sure you can always tell when someone hasn’t showered know at least one person whom you assume showers every day, but actually doesn’t.

      Everyone’s body chemistry is different; I don’t see why some people are being so judgmental.

      • Anonymous K :

        Oops, I meant to post this as it’s own thing, not as a response to #39, although it was partially in response to that comment.

      • This reminds me of conversations (not necessarily here but in general) where people are stunned by the idea that some people gain weight on relatively little food and other people can eat mountains of junk food and be a size 4, though I think most of us know people who fall into both categories. The “bodies are different” point seems to be an elusive one in our society.

      • I’m with you. I shower at least once each day but only wash my hair once or twice each week. As a black woman, this is not at all uncommon.

        The thing that bothers me in this post and many others is when someone states their opinion like it is fact ie “it is just basic hygiene”. No, it is not basic hygiene, it is just YOUR hygiene. Yes, this blog encourages personal opinions, but do we have to make other feel less than to voice that opinion?

        If you only want to take a shower once a month and it is working for you I say power on no matter what my personal preference might be.

        • I’m totally open to the idea that some people can get by on one shower a week. Or month. I don’t find it completely unbelievable at all.

          I am skeptical of the idea that we’re our own best measuring stick of how long we can go without a shower, though. In every group of people saying they only need to shower once a week, there is at least one person – if not two or three – who definitely NEED to shower more often, but no one has the heart to tell them. And there’s going to be the same couple of people that you’re surprised to hear saying they don’t need to shower more often because they always seem so fresh and so clean. If that makes sense.

    • “you can use after shower oils or lotions to combat dry skin problems”

      Don’t get me wrong, I love a super hot shower every morning before work which probably does not help my dry skin, but in the winter I slather on lotion in the morning and before bed and still spend most of the day with dry, itchy skin.

      • I have the itchy skin in the winter problem too, and I haven’t yet been willing to give up my daily morning shower. I find this helps a ton:

        http://tinyurl.com/2ek57ra

        If that link doesn’t work – it’s Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream (the cream, not the lotion, and definitely the one for babies)

        Also, though I too love a long hot shower, when I really have this itching problem I force myself to turn the water temp down to lukewarm and shower as quickly as possible. I use a moisturizing body wash rather than soap, and I don’t soap my itchiest parts (trunk and thighs) at all. Then I put the Aveeno cream on my legs the very instant I towel them off.

        Hope this helps. I feel your itch!

  25. I work out 5-6 days a week (always in the morning), and I shower after each workout; it’s an absolute necessity for me. If I don’t make it to the gym before work, I will shower anyway because I hate going to the office and feeling unclean. If it’s a weekend workout I miss, I will occasionally skip the shower if I don’t feel that I particularly need one. But I shampoo my hair with every shower — it gets greasy otherwise.

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