Showering without soap: This is what happens when you only wash with water

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Does showering without soap sound unimaginable? Lathering your entire body with shower gel is a daily ritual for many people. But what if the foam isn’t the best thing for you and your body?

Showering without soap or shower gel can be unusual for many people. Soaking up in the shower is a normal part of life in Western society, and drugstores are brimming with shower products. But what happens if you only wash with water and simply leave out soap or shower gel?

This is how often you should shower
With or without soap, daily showers are usually not necessary for people with normal skin, as dermatologist Stefanie Derendorf explained to Utopia in an interview. However, it is not unhealthy for these people either. According to Derendorf, it even makes sense to shower every day in some cases—for example, if you have been sweating or have dirt on your skin. For people with dry skin, on the other hand, showering every day is harmful, according to the expert.

When showering, she explains, it is never necessary to soap the entire body. Regularly, but not daily, areas rich in sebaceous glands and areas that get a lot of dirt should be cleaned with shower gel or soap. Hands, armpits, and feet, as well as the middle of the chest and back, are examples of these. Water is sufficient for cleaning the rest of the body.

However, articles and videos about people showering altogether without soap are circulating on the internet. In other words, they only use water—even for armpits, feet, and other body parts with lots of sebaceous glands.

This is fine, explains dermatologist Yael Adler in an interview with SWR3. “You can only shower with water; it removes everything that needs to be removed, from dust to sweat and skin flakes. Even urine is water-soluble,” says the expert.

Erhard Hackler from Deutsche Haut- und Allergiehilfe (German Skin and Allergy Aid) even recommends not using shower gel if you shower frequently. Instead, you could use a fragrance-free deodorant stick after showering with clean water. This is because water alone damages the skin barrier, warns Bernadette Eberlein, senior physician at the Clinic and Polyclinic for Dermatology and Allergology at the Biederstein of the Technical University of Munich. According to her, shower gel and soap increase the damage. This is because they dissolve the fats that protect the skin.

Instead of attacking the skin’s natural protective layer with shower gel or soap and rebuilding it with creams after showering, it can make sense to shower without soap. This leaves the body’s lipids and microorganisms on the body, protecting the skin from external influences.

You don’t have to fear smelling unpleasant if you shower without soap. Dermatologist Adler dispels these concerns, according to dpa. “We’re not dirty,” says the doctor.

Suppose you still don’t want to shower your body without soap. In that case, dermatologist Adler recommends washing substances with synthetic surfactants, such as shower gels based on sugar and coconut surfactants from the health food store. The pH value of the product should be around 5. This strengthens the protective acid mantle, and such products are less degreasing.

You should avoid shower gels or soaps with fragrances, colorants, preservatives, foam, and glitter. The dermatologist advises against alkaline soaps, which damage the skin’s protective acid mantle for up to eight hours. This makes it easier for pathogens like fungi, viruses, or bacteria to penetrate the skin.

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