Think: How often do you wash? Perhaps you have a shower in the morning after breakfast, or a bath before bedtime to relax. Or maybe both.
You might remember from history class, however, that washing every day is actually a pretty modern phenomenon. Back in the day, royalty might take a bath once at year at best. And while there’s no chance you’ll catch us washing that infrequently, it does make you think – is washing as frequently as we do nowadays really that necessary, and could it even be bad for our skin?
According to cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting, yes – it can be: “Washing is important for personal hygiene and, psychologically, it feels good to be clean.
“But we are increasingly in danger of being too clean and I see patients who have literally showered themselves into developing eczema from too-zealous washing.”
Dr Bunting says that our skin has an outer layer of “natural moisturising factor and oils”, which repeated washing can deplete.
“This can leave barrier function impaired, and the result can be dry, flaky skin that becomes cracked, sore and itchy.”
In which case, how much washing counts as “too-zealous”?
“Try to avoid showering more often than necessary,” she says. “This is especially pertinent to regular gym goers who often shower twice a day.”
Knowing how much we should shower is a little more complex, however, as this depends on one’s skin type and the environment around us.
So if you’re pretty active and live in hot, humid conditions, Dr Bunting says you can get away with washing more frequently, but if you have dry skin and live in temperate conditions, not so much.
Dr Bunting says that generally, once a day is probably best - though she emphasises that how you wash is just as important as how often you wash, too:
“Wash with a soap-free moisturising wash and using a non-foaming moisturising bath or shower product, then apply a moisturiser generously after bathing when your skin is still damp,” she says.
“Avoid using overly hot water, and keep showers and baths brief.”
For more tips on healthy skin, check out Dr Bunting’s YouTube channel.
Do you avoid over-washing for the sake of your skin? Tweet us at @YahooStyleUK.