Washing with soap is damaging our skin, says doctor – what to do instead

  • 15 Aug - 21 Aug, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Mag Files

Using soap to wash in the shower is a trivial task that none of us have ever thought anything of. But it turns out that it has actually been damaging our skin all this time. According to Dr James Hamblin, using soap in the shower can confuse our body's natural responses to dirt. In his book, Clean: The New Science of Skin, the author said cleaning agents can affect the balance of natural microbiomes. He writes: "While we have long thought about our skin as a barrier to separate us from the outside world, growing knowledge about the microbiome suggests that skin is instead a dynamic interface with our environment." But don't confuse Dr Hamblin's advice as a means to stop showering altogether, instead he thinks we should be questioning "rituals that are considered a necessity". The author added: "If you skip a day of showering you won’t look oily or smell like an onion. I don’t emanate some offensive odour and I don’t get really oily looking. I smell like a person." While there is no ideal frequency, experts suggest that showering several times per week is plenty for most people (unless you are grimy, sweaty, or have other reasons to shower more often). Short showers (lasting three or four minutes) with a focus on the armpits and groin may suffice. Who would have thought it?