These days, it seems like every grocery store, classroom, and office comes equipped with enough hand sanitizer to kill every germ known to mankind. We're cleanliness obsessed—but is there such a thing as being too clean?
Most Americans hop in the shower at least once per day, with a few outliers who prefer bathing even more than that. And it's taking its toll on our skin.
"In America, we definitely are very clean, which is a good thing and a bad thing," says dermatologist Dr. Rosalyn George, laughing.
The reason why there might be such a thing as showering too often comes down to the composition of your skin. Think of the skin as a wall made of bricks and mortar, George says. The bricks are individual skin cells, and the mortar is the fatty acids that hold everything together.
"Whenever you wash your body with soap, you're depleting the fatty acids," George explains. "When you over-cleanse yourself, you can be prone to skin infections, eczema, and other skin issues."
The verdict? For most people, showering any more than once a day is probably too much.
Drying off after bathing is enough to suck the moisture out of your skin, George explains.Apply a soothing cream, lotion, or oil as soon as you get out of the shower to lock in moisture while skin is still porous and keep your complexion healthy.
And waiting until the water gets hot enough to boil a lobster isn't a good idea, either. Most of us tend to take showers that are too hot for our skin, George notes—the extra high temperature only dries out and irritates the skin more.
Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. Athletes and anyone who exercises more than once a day might need to shower slightly more often. And doctors can sometimes advise patients to take steamy showers to help with congestion. Use your best judgment, and don't take an extra long, extra hot shower just for the sake of showering.
Illustration by Katherine Prendergast