It's been well-reported that a number of gross things happen to our bodies if we don't shower for a couple of days, yet there's increasing evidence to suggest that showering too often can actually do more harm than good.
Some researchers believe that over-showering can damage the human microbiome, defined by the Genetic Science Centre at the University of Utah as a collection of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that live in and on our bodies. According to the university, "disrupting our microbial ecosystems can cause disease," and as a recent study published by Science Advances suggests, washing too often may damage these microorganisms which are vital for our health.
The study of the people of Yanomami village in the Amazon, who had "no documented previous contact with Western people," were found to have a "microbiome with the highest diversity of bacteria and genetic functions ever reported in a human group." These people also harboured bacteria which carried antibiotic resistance, despite no known contact with antibiotics.
The study concluded that "westernization significantly affects human microbiome diversity," although as IFL Science points out, there's no published research which clearly links showering to health, nor is there evidence to answer the question, "How often should I shower?"
Still, there are number of people who have been willing to find out if showering daily is really necessary. James Hamblin, senior editor of The Atlantic, charted his journey towards giving up showering all together in an article published in June 2016.
"At first, I was an oily, smelly beast," Hamblin wrote, but his body soon adjusted to his shower-free routine."When you shower aggressively, you obliterate the ecosystems," he added. "They repopulate quickly, but the species are out of balance and tend to favor the kinds of microbes that produce odor."
Yet the smell doesn't last forever. "After a while...your ecosystem reaches a steady state, and you stop smelling bad. I mean, you don't smell like rosewater or Axe Body Spray, but you don't smell like B.O., either," Hamblin said. "You just smell like a person."
Hamblin's view is shared by New York Times journalist Julia Scott, who swapped shampoos and soap to test a living bacterial skin tonic developed by AOBiome in 2014. After week two of the experiment, Scott's friends commented that she smelt of onions, but after week three, she noticed her skin had become softer and smoother as the "good" bacteria had been allowed to build up.
While clearer skin is definitely a great perk, the thought of giving up showering entirely isn't too appealing. But the idea that cutting down on scrubbing and cleansing could save time, money and water suggests it might just be a positive lifestyle change.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.