Cleanliness is next to godliness – this is a much quoted phrase. Whether you wish to be ‘godly’ or not, we are all brought up thinking that being clean is good and that being dirty is bad. People who cannot maintain adequate personal hygiene are ridiculed by polite society and are not the sort of people that we want to be sat next to on a bus. But, is there such a thing as being too clean?
Could your shower be doing you some harm? Here we explode some myths about human personal hygiene and suggest a healthy showering regime that will keep you clean and healthy at the same time.
There is certainly nothing wrong with taking a shower! Problems arise when the activity is practiced in excess. Some people take showering to the extreme and have several a day.
Personal hygiene habits need to be performed in the right way so we can achieve an ideal balance between our body’s natural secretions and what polite society deems acceptable in terms of personal hygiene.
Skin is one of our vital organs and is designed to perform its protective function perfectly. Excessive showering upsets the balance of our skin and this protective barrier can break down.
We tend to shower several times per day for a number of reasons. It can be to cool off on a hot day, wash ourselves after exercising or to wake ourselves up in the morning. Showers are a vital part of our daily routine – we just have to make sure that we do it in the right way for our bodies.
Too many showers a day?
Simply having too many showers a day can rob our bodies of essential oils and upset the balance of skin bacteria. If you regularly have more than three showers a day ask yourself why this is. Could you manage with less?
Shower products that do harm
Most of the products we use when showering have a large number of chemicals, such as parabens and xenoestrogens, as well as some petroleum products that obviously have damaging effects on our well-being.
Some of these products have even been linked with certain types of cancer. Consider using soaps that are made from natural ingredients. You can even make some of these at home yourself and save a fortune on expensive toiletries.
Tips for a healthy shower
Here are a few tips for making sure that you get the best out of your shower without compromising your health.
- Don’t have a shower that is too hot. Many of us absolutely love a very hot shower – especially at the start of the day. However, prolonged exposure to hot water can increase problems in your dermis. If you really must take a very hot shower, make sure that it is a short one! The alternative is to have a longer shower at a moderate temperature. You will save money on hot water too!
- Try to use the most gentle shower gel that you can find and only use a little. Better still, make your own.
- If you want to apply a face mask you should do so before showering, not after. That way, your skin won’t absorb any irritating chemicals that might be present in the mask.
- After applying products like soap and shampoo you should rinse it off thoroughly so that no excess product is left on your skin. They could cause irritation.
- Do not dry off by harshly rubbing with a rough towel. Instead, pat your skin dry and then apply a moisturising cream.
More about water temperature
The preference for water temperature in a shower is very variable. What feels warm and comfortable to one person is much too cold for another. So what exactly is a hot shower and when is hot actually too hot?
For a cooler shower, try to maintain the water at about 75° F, which will tighten up your skin. If you’re looking for a warmer shower, you should go for temperatures around 86° F, which will allow your whole body to relax.
Similarly, hot water, around 104° C, will have a refreshing effect. At this temperature, our body begins letting off its own heat, thus creating a fresh sensation. However, you should only shower for a short time at this temperature.