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Trend Alert: Banning Baths and Skipping Showers

By sandymaple |

the great unwashed

Some say cleanliess is overrated.

When your schedule revolves around a young child, finding time to take care of yourself can be a challenge.  With all that feeding, changing, playing and cleaning, something usually has to give.  And for many of us, that something is the daily shower.

But if bypassing the bath has you feeling like maybe you should keep your unwashed self at a distance from other adults, relax.  You aren’t dirty and smelly.  You are trendy!

According to the New York Times, dirty is the new clean. It seems that all kinds of people – not just busy moms – are resisting societal expectations regarding personal hygiene and just saying no to soap and deodorant.  And not because they are too busy to bathe.

Some shower-skippers say that daily washing dries their skin and makes them more prone to flare-ups of skin conditions like eczema.  Others cite preservation of the skin’s natural oils as well as water conservation as their reasons for bathing less than daily.  Still others just like the way they smell unwashed and undeodorized.

But while companies that make personal hygiene products tell us we can never be too clean, Richard Gallo, chief of the dermatology division at the University of California, San Diego, says we can.  Because just as there are good bacteria that keep you healthy on the inside, there’s also good bacteria that keeps you healthy on the outside.

Good bacteria are educating your own skin cells to make your own antibiotics.  They produce their own antibiotics that kills off bad bacteria. It’s not just removing the lipids  and oils on your skin that’s drying it out.

Back when I used to work in an office with other people, my morning routine always involved showering and washing my hair.  For me, leaving the house unwashed would have been akin to leaving the house unclothed.  But when my youngest was a baby and I was lucky enough to stay home with her, showering became an every-other-day event at best.

Now that I work at home and my nearest coworker sits about 25 miles away from me, I often skip the shower and head straight to my desk.  But unlike the people profiled in this article, I don’t embrace my funk.  I feel dirty when I don’t shower and even if nobody tells me I stink, I suspect I probably do.

How about you?  If you don’t mind me asking, how often do you bathe?  And did having children impact your personal hygiene routine?

Image: stevendepolo/Flickr

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26 thoughts on “Trend Alert: Banning Baths and Skipping Showers

  1. Gretchen Powers says:

    People especially don’t need deodorant if they are healthy…

  2. PlumbLucky says:

    Hmmm…my eczema is worse if I don’t shower on a daily basis.
    Based on that GP, one of my college profs must have been on his deathbed. I can still smell his rank self some days, I swear! (He had severe BO and did not use deod or antipersp. Nobody sat in the first ten rows in lecture because it was that overpowering.)

  3. Gretchen Powers says:

    I bet he ate meat.

  4. Linda, the original one says:

    Okay, this is really gross. I have dry skin so I totally understand not putting soap on every square inch of your body, but you should at least be soaping up any areas with the potential to smell bad, daily. I have a few friends who don’t wear deoderant. Love’em, but don’t kid yourself ~ you stink!

  5. Laure68 says:

    @GP – I have met several vegans who stink. I mean really, really stink. I’m not saying the lack of meat is causing it, but it sure doesn’t prevent it.

  6. Gretchen Powers says:

    This from a woman who encourages her children to shave their pubes…OK…makes sense. Sorry…I just laugh…it is entirely possible for people who are healthy in body to not shower daily or wear deodorant and not stink. It may be hard for the masses to believe (like it seems unbelievable that a mom can stay home and not have 2 incomes, like you can breastfeed without problems, like you don’t need cable and cell phones, but people, you CAN, you really, truly CAN : ) You don’t HAVE to, but you sure can!

  7. Gretchen Powers says:

    Hmmm…I am not saying not eating meat automatically means you won’t stink and I am not saying that people don’t need to bathe…but I think an every-other-day/3x a week shower/bath for most people and not wearing deodorant for people who are eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly (crapping regulary, etc.) is pretty much something that can be non-newsworthy. Maybe the vegans in question were smokers or something? Why oh why do I get involved in these discussions. Must. Find. Other. Things. To. Do!

  8. jenny tries too hard says:

    Must. Find. Other. Things. To. Do!

    Hey, we agree on something! You’re obviously much better and cooler and nicer-smelling than the rest of us omnivores.

    I’ve known one vegan in particular who did not smoke and smelled plain awful, like dirt and broccoli, every time he showed up except when was dressed up and deodorized to go on a date. His vegan girlfriend smelled like Teen Spirit. So who knows. Basically, though, people naturally smell different, so diet, hygiene, cologne/perfume is going to have a different effect on each and every one. Some people, vegan or not, can get away with skipping the deodorant; some just think they can. I for one could swear that all women who’ve had children smell just plain different from those who haven’t and that kids smell different when they have a bug (even one that doesn’t include puke or loose stools that would definitely cause a smell) so I can definitely see that someone who eats meat and not veg to the point of constipation would probably smell different from a vegan.

  9. Huh? says:

    Agreed GP, you. Must. That being said, I will second the stinky vegan comment. Yes, eating meat will contribute to BO, but holy monkeys, overloading on the soy/TVP/random fake meat will make you smell something FIERCE. That stuff will come out of your pores.

  10. Gretchen Powers says:

    yeah, I think you guys are right about different people just having different smells…and that different other people might interpret the smells differently…I’d rather have someone smell like dirt and broccoli for example than Polo…I certainly agree with the dissing of fake meat, too, and I don’t really consider eating those in excess being healthy

  11. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Some people smell, even over the internet.

  12. Gretchen Powers says:

    oh snap!

  13. bob says:

    Even if one should get a brief whiff of the probiotics one is fermenting, ultimately olfactory fatigue cancels it out so the person can go about business stinking up the place, convinced that everybody else is just being hypersensitive.
    .
    By the way, don’t miss the fascinating discussion continuing on this old article: http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2010/10/27/story-of-teenage-drug-addiction-henrys-story-to-air-on-tv/#comments

  14. Gretchen Powers says:

    Thanks, bob…does this mean you have something to contribute to the discussion of how we can keep our children off drugs, because I am still interested in hearing practical ideas from folks…I haven’t really heard any yet.

  15. Linda, the original one says:

    You’re such a complete witch, GP. What the hell? My daughter swims year round swim team. What’s your solution, that she walk around in a swimsuit with her pubic hair hanging out instead of shaving her bathing suit line? At any rate, that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. It’s good to know that your your body probably stinks as much as your personality, you jerk!

  16. Gretchen Powers says:

    Well, sorry, I don’t. I am just illustrating that people say A or B is “judgemental” and bad, but when it comes to something THEY do or believe in, then it’s a whole other story. You’ve experienced this yourself on Babble. The general intellectual dishonesty is startling. Oh well…

  17. Linda, the original one says:

    Thanks for the head up, bob. GP, you’re a waste of oxyegn. See you next Tuesday. I can’t believe you talked to Katie Granju like that… It’s my supreme hope that no one on here talks to you again, ever. I’ll be starting right now.

  18. jenny tries too hard says:

    Gah. Judging actions is fine, GP. We all make judgment calls every day. When you veer into the territory of being judgmental to a fault and frankly being a pain in the ass, it’s when you insist that your way is the only right way to do something, or when use something unrelated to push an agenda (like using Henry Granju’s addiction and death to push your belief that everyone ought to do as you have done and have only one child and be a SAHM, when there is no evidence that one had anything to do with the other), or attempt to dehumanize those with whom you disagree through name-calling, like “breeder” and “cackling hens”. It’s also the condescending attitude you often have, the way you often insist that when you are roundly disagreed with here on babble, that we’re all just resistant to an alternative way of doing something. Oh, and the way you are so *certain* that you know better than others what their experiences (re: breastfeeding issues, for example) were.

  19. MnMama says:

    There is nothing worse than smelling BO when you are in the morning sickness phase of pregnancy. It sets me off every time I get a whiff.

  20. Huh? says:

    bob, thanks for pointing that out. I had no idea that was still going on. Troll diet; commence.

  21. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    I can’t imagine what Gretchen’s mother did to her to make her into this bile-filled sociopath.

  22. LogicalMama says:

    @MnMama– even smelling the refrigerator door opening from across the room set me off when I was pregnant; can’t imagine what BO would have done! Vegan or omnivore BO– it all stinks hahahahahaha!!!!

  23. Tanya says:

    From howstuffworks.com (I thought they worded it pretty well):
    If native florae on the skin like to chow down on fats and proteins and, as a result, produce malodorous byproducts like androstenes (steroid compounds) and isovaleric acid, then cutting down on foods heavy in these nutrients should reduce body odor. It’s kind of like odor reduction through bacterial starvation. This could explain why the meat-eating participants in the Czech experiment had a less preferable body odor than their vegetarian counterparts. It’s important to point out, however, that the experiment provided a correlation between meat and the perception of body odor, not a causal link.

    Other foods that are perennially cited as worth avoiding to reduce body odor have their own strong scents. Curries, onions and garlic all fall into this category. The reasoning is that the enzymes that give these foods their strong smell may escape full digestion and be excreted intact from the eater’s pores, creating body odor. This remains unproven through scientific inquiry, however.

    Food can also lead to body odor in a more roundabout way. Spicy food tends to make its eater sweat from both the apocrine and eccrine glands. More sweat can equal more body odor; hence, cutting spicy foods from your diet can lead to a reduction in body odor [source: Mayo Clinic].

    Ultimately, if you subscribe to Western science, simply bathing regularly and using antiperspirant or deodorant is the best way to reduce body odor.

    Just a bit of a tip for those that want to go the non hygiene route… instead of picking the best foods, I find easier to shower. You choose. To decrease the bacteria in those areas and thus odor, try using hydrogen peroxide or some other method of thinning out their numbers. :)

  24. Bella_Rose says:

    So this whole article went from what it was supposed to be about, how often do you shower or bathe and why, to meat eaters smell worse than non-meat eaters? You people crack me up!

  25. Bella_Rose says:

    Ok, not the article, but the responses..

  26. Amber M Frantz says:

    So.. getting back on topic. I don’t see anything wrong with showering every other day or every 3 days. But I’m not a person who sweats a lot, and I strongly believe in deodorant. I don’t think anyone should really got without it, because even if you don’t have strong BO, you still have the smell of pits on you. lol I don’t think your diet really affects it much, however I do notice I smell sweeter when I’ve been drinking my strawberry whey protein more during the day. Or maybe it’s wishful thinking. My son on the other hand showers every single day no ifs ands or buts about it, because I’m trying to teach him healthy habits. When he’s a teenager it’ll be up to him. However, I might ground him if he goes more then a week without showering. That’s just nasty.

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