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How far would you go for the environmental cause? What are your individual limits to contribute to the collective? Could you sacrifice the daily bath to save water and energy?
According to El País, a report by Euromonitor International affirms that there are already people around the world who do not shower every day.
James Hamblin, editor of The Atlantic, decided to undergo this experiment and tell about it in an article titled I Stopped Showering and Life Continued.
"It may not make sense to destroy our ecosystem to scrub ourselves with soap every day."
At first, he reports that he felt terrible about being “a stinky, sweaty animal,” but over time his body self-regulates, dispensing with the need for daily showers.
About Taking a Shower Every Day: What Does Science Say?
A group of researchers from Harvard University has raised the question of whether daily bathing is really necessary. Researcher Robert H. Shmerling wrote the article Is it necessary to take a shower every day? to reflect that such a habit is much more social than healthy, since too much cleaning can damage the immune system. That is, a small subject in the body is good for our health.
The dermatologist Yolanda Gilaberte, vice president of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, told El País that our skin is covered with a layer of lipids, which is intended to protect it naturally.
“This lipid barrier [organic molecules] has a slightly acidic pH, around 5.5. Changing this level means modifying the natural state so that the epidermis performs its function: preventing the passage of germs, bacteria, viruses and mites ”.
Daily bathing is a relatively recent modern habit, at least if we think about the urban environment. In the postwar period, bathing was a luxury, as there was no water available and sometimes there was no toilet. He bathed once a week, usually on Sundays.
Excessive hygiene, which often becomes an obsession, can cause a variety of diseases such as atopic dermatitis and infections such as pityriasis or allergies.
Especially in children, it is recommended that they are not subjected to such excessive hygiene in order for their immune system to develop. The justification, according to Gilaberte, is that:
"It is better that our immune systems are busy and in continuous training."
Beware of soap
Another problem pointed out by experts is the use of soap. Gilaberte makes the following alert:
“It is true that water dries the skin, especially if it is very hot, and the water that comes out of the shower does not come from a spring, it is. It contains chlorine as well as lime and other substances, depending on where you live. But the most harmful to the skin are soaps and detergent gels. That is why there are already people who only foam in certain parts (armpits, feet, genitals) and they do it with the most natural products possible. It mainly does not contain triclosan [a powerful antibacterial and fungicide, which kills good and bad bacteria, and when it reaches rivers or seas it continues its destructive work] and sodium lauryl ether sulfate [a detergent and surfactant found in many articles of toilet as it is very cheap and produces a lot of foam]. When the bathroom does not have the function of cleaning, but of relaxing or cooling in the summer, we can dispense the soap completely and use only water.
The professional's recommendation is that people should wash twice a week to make sure they kill bacteria and thus prevent illness. And, daily, we must do a partial disinfection to avoid unpleasant odors.
The damage of bathing every day doesn't stop there. Dermatologist David Leffell, chief of dermatologic surgery at Yale School of Medicine (USA) and author of Total Skin: The Definitive Guide to Whole Skin Care for Life. tells us that when we towel ourselves dry after bathing, we remove moisture from the skin. This layer of moisture that is removed needs to be replaced. This is usually done with a moisturizer. And that's where the danger lies. According to Leffell, care should be taken with the composition of the cream used on the skin, which may contain substances that are harmful to health.
The recommendation of the dermatologist is to bathe in a warm water temperature and briefly, a maximum of three minutes in the shower, never more than five, for the good of our skin and the planet.
In addition to the health problems that excessive bathing can cause, another reason has motivated people to de-automate the daily bath habit: ecology. Water has become an increasingly scarce natural good and, therefore, it is necessary to rethink our relationship with drinking.
But are we really ready to give up our daily bath, even with so many implications for our health and the environment?
Article in Portuguese