Up until about two years ago, I was a huge advocate for a shower a day — or sometimes even two. In fact, I loved a long and very hot shower. It was relaxing and I felt it was necessary for optimal cleanliness. I workout daily and just didn’t feel right not showering to freshen up.
It wasn’t until I discovered that I was vitamin D deficient (despite spending a great amount of time outdoors) that I realized I needed to stop showering so frequently.
According to leading natural health expert, Dr. Joseph Mercola, vitamin D can take up to 48 hours to absorb through the skin when first exposed to the sun. If you use soap and water on the skin it can actually interfere with the necessary chemical reaction.
Not wanting to “wash off” the vitamin D that I had absorbed from the sun, I began to be more cognizant of the amount of time I spent in the shower.
Vitamin D3 is an oil soluble steroid hormone
Vitamin D3 is what’s known as an oil soluble steroid hormone. It is actually formed when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from the sun. When the rays hit your skin, it converts a cholesterol derivative in the skin into vitamin D3.
Once the D3 is formed, it sits on the surface of the skin for quite some time. It takes a long time — up to 48 hours — for it to be completely absorbed. So, you can see that a nice warm shower with body wash will cancel any benefit you gained from your time in the sun. In fact, in order to fully optimize your time in the sun, it is best not to shower for a full two days after exposure to the sun.
Showers strip away natural oils
I live in the Southwest where the air is incredibly dry. After moving from the swampy southeast a couple of years ago, I decided that daily showers would only contribute to the battle I was having with dry skin. Showers, especially long and hot ones like I used to take, strip the body of natural oils, leaving it dry and cracked. In addition, frequent showering also disrupts immune supporting bacteria. This is especially true if you use an antibacterial soap or body wash.
Showering is really only aesthetic
What if I told you that showering is practically for aesthetic reasons? According to Dr. Elaine Larson, an infectious disease expert and associate dean for research at Columbia University School of Nursing. “People think they’re showering for hygiene or to be cleaner, but bacteriologically, that’s not the case.”
If you must shower daily, only hit your stinkiest parts — your pits, groin and buttocks. It isn’t really necessary to bother with the rest of your body. Once you hop out of the shower, be sure to apply a natural moisturizer like coconut oil.
How often should I shower?
According to Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University, most people over-bathe. If you are bathing for health reasons, Mitchell states that once or twice a week is plenty to keep natural oils and bacteria in balance. The body is an amazing self regulating machine that doesn’t need washing nearly as much as we think it does.
What is the right way to shower?
So when you do make it to the shower, is there one way that is better than another to wash your body? The ideal shower is very dependent on water temperature. Again, as much as most of us probably love a steaming hot shower, this is not the best thing for our skin or hair. Hot water will make your hair very brittle over time and leave your skin dry and cracking. Also, be sure to use an all natural, preferably organic body wash and lightly rub your skin in circular motions to cleanse. More aggressive scrubbing will only cause damage and irritate your skin.
When you finish showering, don’t rub your skin harshly with a towel. Instead, gently pat yourself dry. Follow up with a natural oil such as coconut or hemp seed all over to help replenish moisture.
I love to end my shower with super cold blast of water. This helps to close open pores and firm skin. It is especially refreshing to let the cold water spray on your face.
Don’t forget a chlorine filter
Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and it is highly porous and absorbent. It may be possible to take in more chlorinated water through your skin during a hot bath or shower than through drinking it. So, if your home water system is treated with chlorine, and you take baths or showers without some sort of filtration system specifically designed to weed out the chlorine, you’re chronically exposed.
It’s not just chlorine itself that you have to worry about, either. Though chlorine alone has its own dangers, it also combines with organic compounds, such as the sweat and oil on our skin, to produce trihalomethane byproducts, commonly referred to as THMs. The levels of THMs produced when you take a hot bath or shower are rather low. However, over time, these carcinogens could have increasingly detrimental effects.
If your area does use chlorinated water, there are several steps you can take. You definitely don’t want to be drinking this stuff; installing a dechlorinating water filter on your taps is a great first step. Make sure to read reviews and compare units. Also, it’s key to find out how often these filters need to be replaced, and how they need to be maintained.
You can install a dechlorinating shower filter. There are many on the market, so it’s worth it to compare and check reviews on these, as well. There are also bath dechlorinators available, such as bath ball dechlorinators, which hang underneath your faucet and remove the chlorine when the water enters the filter. Remember, not all filters remove chlorine from water, so you want to make sure that the filter you choose is effective for this purpose.
If showering every day is something that you just can’t give up, consider the tips offered above. This will save your skin, maximize your vitamin D production and keep your good bacteria in check.