Basic hygiene is undoubtedly important, but is it possible to be too clean?
Recent research has found that showering too much might have a negative impact on our bodies’ microbiome– the population of friendly bacteria that keep us healthy. Dermatologists also seem to agree that soaping up too frequently can damage your skin and hair.
Here are a few key ways to tell if you’re actually showering too often.
Your hair is always greasy.
Though it probably sounds counter-intuitive, washing your hair frequently might actually be making it greasier.
“It can lead the scalp to think it needs to replace the oils, and thus it overproduces them,” stylist Carolyn Aronson told Bustle.
Stripping your hair of its natural oils by showering too often can propel you into a vicious cycle of overly-oily hair and constant washing.
The trick is to cleanse your hair just enough to remove dirt and excess oil without drying it out. Aronson recommended using sulfate-free shampoos and applying a light conditioner to the ends of your hair to avoid weighing down your roots with a heavy product.
Your skin is dry.
Dry, flaky skin can have a number of different causes, but one you may not have considered is your shower routine. Taking long or frequent hot showers might be damaging your skin.
“Staying in too long washes the oils away from your skin,” Dr. Carolyn Goh, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA, told WebMD.
By stripping away your skin’s the natural oils – the ones that lock in moisture and keep your skin soft – showering too much can leave your complexion looking dull and dry.
“On occasion, there may be a reason to shower twice a day,” Dr. Jessica Krant, a board-certified dermatologist with the American Academy of Dermatology, told NBC News. “But those should be extremely short showers.”
Your skin is red and irritated.
Showering too much can actually damage your skin and make it look and feel more irritated.
As Josh Clark of How Stuff Works explained, our skin is made up of multiple layers. The outer layer is called the stratum corneum or “horny layer.” This layer is made up of hardened, dead skin cells that are held together by fatty compounds, and it helps keep your skin protected from irritants.
When you take a shower and scrub yourself with a washcloth or loofah, you’re actually chipping away at this protective outer skin layer. The heat of the shower also dissolves the lipids in your skin that help to keep moisture in.
“The more showers you take, the more frequently this damage takes place and the less time your skin has to repair itself through natural oil production,” Clark wrote.
Your skin always seems to be itchy.
Showering too often can have a range of negative effects on your skin, including annoying itchiness.
“Hot showers and baths can inflame the skin, causing redness, itching, and even peeling – similar to a sunburn – and can disrupt the skin’s natural balance of moisture, robbing you of the natural oils, fats, and proteins that keep skin healthy,” according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Instead of frequent hot showers, the UPMC recommended cool or lukewarm showers just a few times a week. How do you know if your shower is too hot? If your skin is pink after you get out, you need to turn the temperature down.
You have stubborn dandruff.
It can be a frustrating situation – you wash your hair because you have dandruff and scalp buildup, only to find that the flakes return almost immediately.
“This happens when the scalp gets a tad too dry and starts to flake,” stylist Tonya Le told INSIDER. “So minimising your shampoo sessions will help give your oil glands a chance to do its job and soothe the scalp naturally.”
Try easing off the shampoo and hot water for a little while to see if your dandruff improves. Giving your scalp the chance to regulate itself might be the solution to your dandruff woes.
Your hair is frizzy and breaks easily.
Making sure your hair is clean might seem like an important part of keeping it healthy, but experts say that too much washing can actually cause your locks to suffer.
“Hair becomes flatter and also begins to lack shine too, so [you should use] moisturizing styling products that will help restore the hair cuticles by making them more soft, manageable and, most important, luscious,” Le told INSIDER.
If you’re experiencing major bouts of frizz and breakage, you might be washing your sebum away before it can do its job.
Your hair colour is fading fast.
If the cost of countless hair colour touch-ups as is eating into your rent money, your showering habits could be to blame.
Hairstylist Kerrie Urban told Elite Daily that “minerals in shower water can dull blondes, strip colour from reds, and cause brunettes to lose richness.”
Sudsing up your mane daily could be stripping away the colour you’ve paid so dearly to have applied. Cut down on the amount of showers you take and switch to a colour-protective shampoo to keep colour loss to a minimum.
You always lather up after the gym.
OK, so a dose of soap and hot water might be very necessary if you’re smelly after a long gym session. But if you’ve just spent a few minutes stretching and aren’t really that sweaty, you might be able to skip showering.
Hairstylist Julien Farel told GQ that in many cases, soaping up in the shower after the gym is overkill. He actually pointed out that the salt in your sweat can give your hair texture. If you just can’t skip the shower, Farel recommended simply rinsing with plain water.
Your scalp is always itchy.
Showering too often can mess with the delicate balance pH balance of your head and hair, which might lead to a seriously itchy scalp.
“Washing with shampoo should be limited to one or two times a week,” master barber Arthur Reamir told GQ. “This is because chemical hair products disrupt the natural acidity and pH balance of the hair and can lead to a very unhealthy scalp.”
Reamir advised that one sign of an ailing scalp is dandruff and itching. Cutting back on showers might help sort out irritation and itch.
It’s getting hard to run a brush through your hair.
You shouldn’t have to use both hands to get your hairbrush to move through your mane. If you’re struggling to comb out your tresses, frequent showers could be to blame.
As stylist Carolyn Aronson explained to Bustle, over-washing causes the cuticle of the hair to remain open. This can give your hair a dry and frizzy texture.
“When you brush your hair, it will catch more on the tangles and not slide through the hair shaft easily,” said Aronson.
If you notice a change in your hair’s texture, make sure you’re not lathering up too often.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.