Are You TOO Clean?

You shower every day — shampoo, suds up, rinse, wait 24 hours, and repeat. You may also wash your hands with antibacterial soaps regularly, all in the name of being hygienic, right? As it turns out, showering and soaping up too much can actually make you too clean.

Yes, there is such a thing a too clean. According to scientists, soaps and shampoos that make you squeaky clean destroy the bodyís natural oils. These oils — your sebum — provide myriad benefits, from bringing Vitamin E protection to the skin and guarding against microbes of malicious intent, to moisturizing and delivering precious antioxidants and pheromones. Your sebum plays a huge role in your health. If you are constantly scrubbing your sebum away with highly alkaline or antibacterial soaps, your skin becomes, in essence, sterilized. It will dehydrate easily, have a deficit of beneficial bacteria, and bear no effective protection against unwanted germs or the harsh rays of the Sun. In fact,† a 2009 study showed that the presence of natural skin bacteria actually reduced inflammation around injured skin rather than increase it. Your bacteria is important. Using that Purell antibacterial (Triclosan? No thank you.)†every day may be doing more harm than good. Believe it or not, itís better to be a little “dirty.”

The same goes for shampooing. Your hair needs its natural oils to stay hydrated and lustrous (especially all of my curly-haired companions out there). By shampooing and stripping those oils each and every day, it becomes necessary to buy numerous toxic products†to protect and hydrate our oilless hair. You may be thinking eww! Who doesnít shampoo? Actually, people didnít start showering and shampooing every day until the mid 1900s. Before then, humankind wasnít nearly as neurotic about cleanliness. In the Middle Ages, people thought bathing led to illness. The Romans merely applied scented oils and scraped the grime off of their skin. Our renegade against germs and oils is still in its infancy. Sooner or later, we’ll realize that a little oil and bacteria are hugely beneficial.

You need bacteria. They are essential to your health. Try skipping out on the antibacterial soaps and nightly shampoos to allow your sebum production and natural bacteria levels to regulate. Let your body do what it has evolved to do. Healthy levels of sebum can actually counteract premature skin aging, and itís a lot less expensive than that $40 anti-aging creme that yields dubious results. Simple rubbing can be enough to rid your skin of sweat and dirt without compromising its integrity. There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on products filled with toxins that strip away your skinís natural barriers.

Cleanliness and proper hygiene are important, but our modern interpretation of the word takes it a little too far.† Nowadays, no oneís claiming that bathing regularly is bad, but sometimes just some water and a loofah might do the trick. Some soaps and hydrating products are great and can be useful, but make sure you know the difference between being clean and being sterile.

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136 comments

Christine Jones
Christine J.10 months ago

Timely advice. This obsession with cleanliness has resulted in poor immune systems, asthma, eczema, chemicals in our waterways and wastage of water.

Kath P.
Kath P.2 years ago

Moderation is key.

Dale O.

Very true, Darren W, a lot of the advertising is trying to get us to purchase a number of interesting things.

Some people can ignore the natural bacteria that is part and parcel of living and over do it. Some of the same people over do it when cleaning the house with chemicals every day. Moderation is always useful, one can be clean, but not overdo it.

Else G.
Else G.2 years ago

This is a great book on the history of hygene. " The Dirt on Clean." It's a great read.

Spencer Young
Spencer Young2 years ago

Just "Dial" it up, "Coast" through the day and you'll have a bit of "Irish Spring" in your life.

Wendy H.
Wendy H.2 years ago

Thank you

mmmm w.
mmmm w.2 years ago

it's true, it's true, it's true...my hair has never been so thick until i've starting using a new hair product called "dirt"! shower daily, just no products.:)

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G.2 years ago

everything in moderation !!

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Sybil G.
Sybil G.2 years ago

@John C.
I'm French and be assured, French people bathe as often as Americans do... I don't use perfumes as I cannot stand chemical smells.

I take a shower every day, after work. I wash my hair every 5 days. I had to endure the greasy hair days until my hair adjusted (I went from every other day to every 3 days to every 4 days...). I used diluted castille soap to wash my hands and avoid antibacterial soaps. They are bad for us.