How often do you bathe in a week? Well, if you’re U.K.-born fashion designer Vivienne Westwood you get in the shower once a week, a decision she attributes to helping her stay young – so is she onto something?
According to The Independent, the 76-year-old spoke to reporters after the Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood Spring/Summer 2018 show during Paris Fashion Week where they asked how the designer kept her youthful appearance, to which she revealed it all came down to her bathing habits.
READ MORE: Reality check: Should you wash your hands in warm or cold water?
“She only takes a bath every week,” her 51-year-old husband Kornthaler said. “That’s why she looks so radiant.”
And Kornthaler bathes even less – only once a month, he admitted.
Studies in the past have advised against showering too often, saying it can lead to skin issues like eczema. Others, like this study by the University of Utah, even found that washing too much can damage the human microbiome – the collection of essential bacteria and other microbes that live on your body.
“You’re always going to have a buildup of a number of different microorganisms, on top of your normal microbial flora,” Canadian microbiologist Jason Tetro says. “Some of [that buildup], depending on what your environment is, could potentially cause problems not just for your skin, but for your hair and maybe your respiratory system and digestive tract.”
For example, if you’re on a jungle excursion, it’s OK to go without bathing for a period of time because you are being colonized by microbes that potentially aren’t going to cause harm.
If you live in a city environment, though, and take public transportation, then you’ll be acquiring a lot of microbes that potentially could cause you problems.
If you live in the latter type of environment, then having a full-body shower or bath every two to three days is ideal.
However, there are certain regions of the body that you should wash every day. They include the underarms, groin and posterior.
READ MORE: Parents should let their kids eat dirt. Here are the reasons why
“If you’re bathing too often then what can happen is you may actually change the nature of your microbial population,” Tetro explains. “When that happens, it may leave you vulnerable to both problems with your immune system in the skin, – sensitivity to the skin and dermatitis for example. But it may also leave you more open for colonization of microbes that could potentially cause you harm, like Staphylococcus aureus which causes a number of problems including impetigo – a problem where the skin forgets to heal and it just keeps flaking off. So you want to make sure you’re not washing too often and that you’re not using too harsh of soap.”
But if you don’t wash often enough, this can result in other problems like acne, boils, and skin irritations, Tetro says. And if that buildup of unwanted bacteria gets into your nose or lungs, then it may also cause respiratory issues and problems with your gut.
According to Tetro, the most effective showers are with warm water and last around 10 minutes. And while there are benefits to both washing in the morning or at night, the best time to bathe, he says, is actually in the morning – but it doesn’t hurt to do a quick water-only wash at the end of the day to get rid of the day’s dirt.