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How often should you shower and wash your hair?

4 minute read
A woman stepping out of a shower with a towel wrapped around her body and hair

There’s nothing like coming home from a hard day at the office and jumping into a steaming hot shower, but research has shown that although soaping up on the daily might leave you smelling sweet, it could be dirty business for your skin.

It might be time to skip the wash and instead opt for a few sprays of Lynx Africa and some dry shampoo with the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Center finding that over-cleaning can damage the human microbiome, which can impact your immune system, digestion and heart health.

How often should I be showering?

Emily Newsom MD, a dermatologist at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre, suggests that the average Joe needs to only shower two or three times a week, although it really all depends on your lifestyle. If you’re hitting the gym on the daily, are a labourer or work with strong smelling chemicals, you might have to rinse off more regularly. And, if you plan on stepping outdoors in Australia anytime between December and February, you’ll probably also need a quick soak to wash off the humidity.

That might explain why Aussies some of the biggest culprits of over-bathing with 90% of women and 80% of men having a daily rinse, while only 43% of the French shower every other day (or less)!

How often should I wash my hair?

It’s one of the most commonly Googled questions, so when it comes to hair washing, we wanted to straighten out any confusion and get to the root of the issue (sorry – couldn’t help ourselves).

Just like showering, washing your hair every day could also be a mistake. Columbia University’s health column explains that the frequency of your hair washes all comes down to your hair texture and growth, as well as the climate you live in.

“As a basic guideline, people with normal to dry hair can wash once or twice a week, while those with oily hair can probably wash more frequently.”

A person's feet sticking out of a bubble bath

Tips for safe showering

When you’re ready to whip out the rubber ducky and have a wash, there are a few ways to protect your skin (and reduce the risk of damaging your all-important microbiome).

1. Keep it cool and set the timer

Dermatologist Dr Emily McKenzie explains, “The hotter the water it is, the more oil and moisture is removed from your skin. The longer you're in the shower, the more that this process is prolonged. So taking shorter lukewarm showers is actually more protective for your skin."

2. Oil up

No need to head out to your nearest Sephora in search of a luxe shower gel, simply apply some good old fashioned extra virgin olive oil says Paul Lorenc MD.

“Olive oil contains antioxidants that fight free-radical damage and an ingredient called squalene, which is extremely hydrating," explains Lorenc, “With the added benefits of antioxidants and a hydrating squalene, it moisturises the delicate skin in the eye area, plus nourishes eyelashes the same way conditioner works on the hair. As for cuticles, olive oil keeps them moist and soft to encourage strong, healthy nail growth.”

3. Focus on the smelly three

When lathering up, focus your efforts on the armpits, groin and feet as these are the places that generally produce B.O. Your armpits and groin have apocrine sweat glands. These glands produce a fluid that when mixed with the bacteria on your skin can leave you with that ‘sweaty smell’.

4. Shampoo for you

Columbia University’s health column suggests buying a shampoo based on your hair type. You could try a mix of lemon and water to cut out excess oil or opt for a jojoba-based shampoo if you have a scalp condition.

The biggest lesson in all of this? Consider taking a less is more approach before you jump into the shower… just like the French.

Looking for more ways you can improve your overall health and wellbeing? Check out The Check Up’s dedicated Healthy Living section.

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