Did you know that latest research suggests that bathing daily can actually be bad for you? While it’s important to wash wounds clean and keep the soot of the day from building up and attracting colonies of bacteria, the chemicals inside even the most sensitive of soaps and body washes have been shown to do a considerable amount of destruction to the epidermis. The reason soaps do such a great job at getting you fresh and clean is the same reason they’re so corrosive on the top level of skin; soap molecules glob onto loose pieces of dirt and dead skin and carry them off with hot water. While this mix gets you squeaky, it also removes the majority of the epidermis, which consists mainly of dead skin that acts as a sort of hardened shield against the elements. Once removed, the skin underneath becomes susceptible to infections and other ailments.
You have to remember that the daily bath is a relatively new concept for human beings. Once upon time, and we’re only talking the first 180,000 years of humanity’s 200,000 year existence here, we bathed as often as we encountered sources of water that weren’t immediately used for drinking. In other words, hardly ever if not never did prehistoric humans rub-a-dub-dub. Flash forward to recorded history, the Roman Empire with its famous baths and indoor plumbing and humans are bathing on a once-a-week basis if they’re of privilege, and typically in the same vat of water that hundreds of other dirty bodies had washed in previously. It sounds disgusting, but you have to keep in mind that this was the majority of our existence. Our DNA still thinks we’re being born and bred on the plains of Africa, and so as much as our modern society promotes the idea of washing up once a day, our bodies don’t like it very much. Our bodies want to be dirty.
But this is the world we live in. Even if the idea of going a day or two sans douche sounds appealing to you, it probably won’t smell very appealing to anyone around you. Body odor is another relatively recent human experience. Beforehand, you kind of just got used to people smelling bad before you could talk and then didn’t care about it until you died. That’s neither here nor there however, so if the only way to preserve our epidermis is by being funky, what can we do to save our skin and our social lives?
Instead of washing up vigorously at the end of the day, simply run some warm water over your body and if you must, use a gentle soap conservatively. Afterwards, pat dry with a towel, don’t rub as this kind of abrasive motion is likely to do further damage to the epidermis. Use a natural skin care lotion or cream to replenish the protective oils and particles that kept your skin healthy. That way you can avoid harming the forgotten human organ while also smelling good.
We’ve come a long way from the Sub-Saharan land of our genesis, but societal impositions on our bodies have oftentimes moved at a pace independent from both practicality and rationality. Our society is one where smelling good is more important than ever before, even if, strictly speaking survival, smelling bad isn’t that big a deal. Once you understand these wayward dynamics weaved into the story of the human experience, you can begin to see how humans “are born free, yet everywhere they are in chains.” Your chain may simply be the one attached to your bath plug.