From a young age, we're taught that the daily use of a hot shower, copious amounts of soap and a scratchy washcloth are necessary to rid ourselves of dangerous microorganisms and the putrid smell of human skin. And if you aren't squeaky-clean, you can forget about dating, career advancement and the promise of a future that doesn't involve dying alone in a den of your own filth.
As it turns out, showering or bathing daily, while it may make us more socially acceptable, wreaks havoc on something hilariously called the horny layer. Hot water, soap and abrasive surfaces strip off the horny layer, exposing living cells to the elements. And although we've just used the words "strip," "exposing" and "horny" in the same sentence, we assure you that this is not the making of a sexy situation. On the contrary, damaging this protective layer of skin makes us more susceptible to disease.
Before recent modern conveniences, people bathed less often, and frequently in the same water. Even nowadays, showering doesn't kill bacteria or other microorganisms, though it does move them around. A colony of bacteria living on your shower wall might move to your leg; a colony from your leg might move to your head; a colony from your groin might even take up residence on your hands. For this reason, surgeons in many hospitals are not allowed to shower right before operating.
Studies have shown that there are no measurable differences in the number of microorganism colonies a person is host to regardless of how frequently that person showers. Of course, using antibacterial soaps can kill microorganisms, though in an effort not to create too many super bacteria, medical experts generally recommend not using these soaps daily.
So how the hell are we meant to do it?
The most important thing to do to keep the skin healthy is to preserve the horny layer. There's no magic number of showers each week, though it's generally agreed that the number would fall somewhat shy of seven. Skipping showers, or, if you'd like a fancy French term, celebrating sans douche days, gives your skin time to repair some of the damage that the last shower caused.
When you shower, use warm or cool water and a mild soap (if at all), and rehydrate the horny layer by rubbing on some moisturizer afterward. Better yet, convince an attractive friend to help with this. Once you've cleaned up, you'll want to make sure you air dry. Ignore protesting roommates or family members and remind them, as you're drip-drying at the breakfast table, that they should be grateful you're showering only a couple of times a week.