If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably come across the viral “everything shower” trend. If not, it’s exactly as its name suggests: a shower in which you indulge in every single one of your cleansing, exfoliating, shaving, and moisturising routines— basically, the equivalent of spending a few leisurely hours at the spa without ever leaving your own bathroom. While the trend has racked up over 400 million TikTok views, the concept isn’t actually that new: leisurely bathing rituals have been popular since the days of ancient Rome, at least. And, not to brag, but I’ve been doing a version of an #everythingshower since I was a teen – we just didn’t have a name for it back then.
Regardless of its origins, it’s easy to see the trend’s appeal: not only is it an effective way to hit all your beauty rituals at once, it’s also an accessible way to revel in some much-needed self-care. It’s just probably not something you should do everyday. The practice is time-consuming and wastes a tonne of water, for one, and it might not even be that healthy. “The everything shower seems like a very relaxing, spa-like experience,” Dr Mamina Turegano, a triple board-certified dermatologist, internist, and dermatopathologist explains. “However, spending prolonged periods in the shower can increase the risk of dry or irritated skin.”
And that’s not all: experts say that showering too long or too often can also disrupt your microbiome and wreak havoc on your hair. For those reasons, they say there are some best practices we should all be following when it comes to taking showers – whether we’re partaking in the latest social media trend or just jumping in for a regular rinse.
The restorative power of a shower
Of course, it goes without saying that bathing regularly is a must when it comes to maintaining good hygiene. But the benefits of showering go beyond simply removing dirt, sweat, dead skin cells, and debris. Showering also offers a host of other feel-good properties. It can stimulate circulation and improve immune function, ease aches and pain, reduce swelling, improve sleep, and lessen fatigue. It can even have a positive effect on brain health, learning, and memory. And – as anyone who has ever craved a restorative shower after a bad day can attest – there are proven mental health benefits as well. Showering can boost our self-esteem, ease anxiety, and soothe stress.
How often is too much?
But here’s the thing: we all might be showering way more than is necessary. “While most people can tolerate daily showering, many people could actually benefit from showering just three times a week,” explains board-certified dermatologist Deanne Robinson, MD, FAAD. “It really has to do with your skin condition, the products you’re using, and your lifestyle choices.” For example, she says you might need to shower more if you’re engaging in frequent sweaty workouts or are regularly exposed to allergens or toxins outdoors. “But if you’ve had a pretty chill day, chances are you can skip the shower and take one the next day,” she explains.
Dr Turegano agrees. “I think that showering three to four times a week is plenty for most people,” she says. “We start to see more issues with dry or irritated skin when showering happens more often than once a day.” She says this is especially true for those with already-dry or eczema-prone skin.
She also points out that showering too frequently – or not frequently enough – can lead to issues with scalp health, so there’s definitely a sweet spot when it comes to washing your hair. “If someone is prone to dandruff, greasy hair, or is dealing with hair loss, then I recommend washing every other day or even daily,” she says. And while those with textured hair can get away with washing it less, she says that if you’re dealing with dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis, you should wash your hair “at least once a week”, no matter what.
Not too hot, not too long
This may not be the news you want, but when it comes to shower temperature and length, it’s ideal to stick to lukewarm water and keep it to under 15 minutes, max. That’s because the longer and hotter the shower, the more oil and moisture is removed from the skin – and, the higher the chance of becoming a red, itchy mess. “I know, it’s not fun,” Dr Turegano says, “but it really is ideal for preventing dry skin and minimising eczema flare-ups.”
Of course, if you’re not prone to dryness, don’t have sensitive skin, and are not dealing with other skin issues, you can get away with taking a long, hot shower occasionally – just be sure to choose your products wisely. Board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, recommends avoiding harsh soaps that contain surfactants like sodium stearate, as well as abrasive scrubs and heavy fragrances, which can disrupt the skin barrier. She recommends hydrating body cleansers that don’t strip skin of its natural oils, like Dove’s Original Beauty Bar and CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser. And, don’t skimp on after-shower care: gently pat the skin with a towel instead of rubbing, and be sure to slather on a gentle, hydrating body lotion, too.
Above all, don’t neglect the importance of doing what’s best for you. “Listen to your body,” Dr. Robinson advises. “Check in with your skin. The ideal frequency and length of time to shower is all about your individual skin and needs.” So, keep these tips in mind – but remember to do you.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.