Earlier this month, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis help ignite a social media firestorm after they revealed their untraditional bathing habits on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast. Kutcher explained that he has the tendency to "throw some water” on his face after a workout and you’ll only find him washing his armpits and crotch daily — “and nothing else ever." In response to the shocking revelation, Twitter lit up with agreeing and dissenting opinions on how often you should bathe. For example, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tweeted that he is the exact opposite of a “not washing themselves” celeb, saying he lathers up three times a day.
Since then, many other celebrities have spoken out about their personal hygiene philosophies. And between the placenta smoothies and candles that smell like someone’s orgasm, you’d think hearing that some celebrities wait for The Stink before they bathe would be a drop on the bucket. But fans and casual celebrity news consumers alike were still, well, shocked? Confused? Kind of grossed out? Even then, board-certified dermatologist and Founder of Visha Skincare Dr. Purvisha Patel, MD, FAAD, FASDS, FACMS, is positive that the bathing habits conversation is just a hot topic stemmed in shock value. “It’s just a trend or something to talk about,” she tells Elite Daily.
Trend or not, many people are still left sliding down a slippery slope of confusion when it comes to what bathing habits are necessary (and unnecessary) to keep your skin bright, happy, and healthy. Alongside Dr. Patel, Elite Daily chatted with board-certified dermatologists Dr. Mona Gohara, MD, and Dr. Susan Cox, MD, about all things bathing and body care, including how often you should bathe ideally, the effects of over-washing and under-washing, and more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Should you bathe or shower daily? Why or why not?
Dr. Purvisha Patel: We live in a symbiotic relationship with microbes on our skin. Washing daily is important to ensure that the balance is not disrupted from either too much or not enough washing.
Dr. Mona Gohara: Skin health truly begins in the shower, so I recommend daily showers — or at least every few days— to eliminate irritants. Using the right cleanser, such as Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar ($9.99, Target), is also important to strengthen the skin’s barrier and make it softer.
Can not showering enough damage the skin?
Dr. Mona Gohara: Oh, yes! If you leave too many irritants on the skin and don’t wash them off, your skin barrier and epidermis can be compromised.
Dr. Purvisha Patel: Lack of washing results in dirt, sweat, and microbial buildup on the skin. It can also inhibit the skin from shedding, as the top layer of cells do on a daily basis. This can lead to itching and irritation, which also puts you at an increased risk for infection.
On the flip side, what are some of the negative effects of over-washing?
Dr. Purvisha Patel: Overwashing strips the natural oils off the surface of the skin, resulting in a defenseless skin barrier to the elements.
Dr. Mona Gohara: You’ll know if you’re over-washing because the skin will send signals to the brain to let you know. Irritation, inflammation, flakiness, dryness, and itchiness could be signs of over-washing. It is also important to note that, regardless of how often you’re washing, if you’re using the wrong cleansers, it could disrupt the normal microbiome of the skin and lead to potential inflammation.
Is it OK to wait to shower or bathe until you start to smell?
Dr. Mona Gohara: It’s all about personal preference, but I also think there are two issues at hand here. There’s a hygiene issue, which, to some degree, is a societal construct that we’ve put upon ourselves. The bigger thing is the health issue. I’m personally on Team Shower because that is what is going to give your skin optimal health.
Dr. Susan Cox: Sweat in itself doesn’t smell. Body odor comes about when sweat mixes with the bacteria on skin. I would say, by the time you start smelling, your body is indicating there is a buildup of bacteria on the skin.
What’s the ideal shower routine and cadence?
Dr. Mona Gohara: I think that anyone who showers once a day has what I would consider the ideal washing routine, but it absolutely varies. As for the ideal shower, I suggest keeping it short and sweet! Overall, 10 minutes is a good amount of time to bask in the warm water. Just remember, hot showers are good for the soul, but not the skin.
What body parts should you absolutely wash daily?
Dr. Purvisha Patel: It is important to concentrate on the areas that we have eccrine sweat glands, like the armpits and groin. There, the sweat interacts with the bacteria on the skin to create body odor.
Dr. Mona Gohara: The armpits, groin, buttocks, and feet hold a lot of bacteria and are most in need of daily attention to prevent them from being inflamed.
Dr. Susan Cox: If you’re going to wear makeup, it’s non-negotiable that you should remove it every day and follow up by washing your face.
Does your skin type effect how often you should bathe or shower?
Dr. Mona Gohara: If you’re thinking about different skin types, it doesn’t come down to frequency. It comes down to products. Using a gentle cleanser, like Dove Soothing Care Body Wash ($6.99, Target), with your hands or a gentle cotton washcloth is what’s essential to get the job done. If you use the right products and the right tools, everyone should be able to take a daily shower.
Dr. Purvisha Patel: If you have oily, acne-prone skin, it is best to wash once a day. Those with eczema, dry, sensitive skin can shoot for every other day with a mild cleanser.
Dr. Susan Cox: If you struggle with acne, then you should be washing your face daily. I also encourage all my patients who work out, especially in gyms, to bathe daily! Sweat, dirt, and bacteria from the gym only aggravate existing skin irritation, such as acne. The only instance where I may not encourage someone to wash daily is if they have extremely dry skin or a severe case of eczema. With skin conditions like that, it may be best to bathe at your own comfort or every other day.
- Dr. Mona Gohara, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist who served as chief resident at Yale New Haven Hospital where she was trained in dermatology.
- Dr. Purvisha Patel, MD, FAAD, FASDS, FACMS, is a board-certified dermatologist, MOHS, cosmetic surgeon, the founder of Visha Skincare, and the founder and owner of Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Associates.
- Dr. Susan Cox, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist who’s been practicing for more than two decades and is well-versed in medical, surgical, pediatric, and cosmetic cases.