As the days get shorter and my stomach ramps up its Neanderthal message of ‘winter is coming, food will get scarce, so eat eat eat’ I thought I would blog about how often as compared to how long in the shower. Hopefully I haven’t blogged about this before but hey, with 57 blogs already under my belt it’s a bit hard to check. Anyway, its def a new title…


A lot of the reasons relating to how often a person showers is down to cultural norms, whether those are family norms, peer norms or wider societal norms. I shower once a day now without fail. But when I was a lass I had a bath once a week in winter and twice a week in summer (cos we would get a bit sweaty in summer). For those of you reading this blog either a) from another country, or b) younger than – I don’t know, about 40? – I reckon that was pretty normal away from the metropolitan elite, though it could of course have just been a family norm. Mind you the Aussies certainly considered it a cultural norm ergo their (mentioned before, way back in Feb 2012) “Where is the best place to hide your money in England? Under a bar of soap.” wisecrack from the 1970s. Great joke – bit like their current one day cricket team…


Cultural norms can be seen more clearly when looking at global data about showering. In 2008, SCA (a global company that ‘develops, produces and markets personal care products’) in order to better understand their market did some wide ranging research and produced a report called Hygiene matters which focussed on showering as well as other aspects of personal hygiene. The research broke showering frequency down by gender. 65% of women shower every day in the UK. The corresponding figure for Australia and Mexico is 90%; for China it is 30%. In the absence of any other data (e.g. access to a shower, cost of water, whether baths are more popular) such a wide range does indeed seem like a cultural norm.


Their research showed that on the whole it’s the hotter, more humid countries that have an average showering frequency of greater than once a day which would make sense. My one shower a day is just above the global average which is 6.8 times a week, and above the UK figure of just over five.


Looking at the global range of shampooing frequency however, I am well below average. I went through a stage (of at least a year) of wetting my hair every time I showered and then shampooing and conditioning it every other time; the method behind this madness being to control my flyaway hair and stop it sticking up of a morning. Only it seemed to have the opposite effect. So I am currently on a shampooing once every 5 days regime and no wetting in between time in a mad carefree ‘let’s get out of that other routine’ kind of a way. I think it was probably all that shampooing that was making the hair fly away in the first place, so now I am hoping for a bit of grease build-up to flatten it down! I have a frequency of about 1.2 shampoos a week when globally, the average frequency of shampooing is 3.3 times a week with a pretty tight range from twice to four times a week. Apart from the Mexicans that is, who shower every day and shampoo on six out those seven days!


The SAC report showed that showering frequency is about the same across all age groups apart from in China and the United Kingdom. According to their research, in China the youngest shower far more often than the older generation whereas in the United Kingdom the youngest shower the least. They can’t have talked to any of the adolescents we work with then! Maybe they meant eight year old boys…


In our research on how often adolescents shower, the average is 7.5 times a week v 4.4 all of UK citizens (the 4.4 is from the Energy Savings Trust’s ‘At Home with Water’) with 21% of adolescents showering more than once a day, and most of this 21% showering twice a day.


Google ‘how often should you shower?’ and you will find loads of interesting data basically saying ‘not as often as you think’! Showering too often especially in hot water, is actually bad for your skin as it dries it out and gets rid of the good bacteria that’s living there. Whilst the drying out can be mitigated by the liberal application of cream products, once the good bacteria have gone it’s harder to get them back. Seemingly showering once every two to three days is fine. Some scientific work showed that “friendly” bacteria living on our skin may play a vital role in reducing inflammation triggered by injury and unwanted bacteria.  It also suggests that antibacterial hand gels and soaps might exacerbate skin conditions characterised by excessive inflammation. Aaah, the soap issue. Whilst washing hands with soap is considered by most punters as very important from a hygiene aspect, the advantage of using soap on the rest of your body is less clear-cut. This is a great little bit of research from two dads who went for six months without using soap. A quick summary goes like this: ‘Amazingly, you need virtually no soap. Deodorant and conditioner on the odd occasion remain useful’.


You probably wish they wrote all my blogs!

October 2016 – how often do you shower?