One of the simplest and most overlooked parts of a person’s beauty regimen is showering – and the step that comes right after showering, namely applying a deodorant or antiperspirant. While these two things are looked at as basic hygiene more than a take it or leave it step, the New York Times actually featured two articles – one in 2007 and one only a few months ago – that describe the apparent decline of the shower and of deodorant usage.

Most people are aware of the cancer scare that occurred a few years ago regarding the aluminum in deodorants. And even after that fear subsided, there has been subsequent concern over the fact that the same aluminum is a possible neurotoxin that may be involved with Alzheimer’s. Still, the National Cancer Institute claims that there is no conclusive research linking deodorant to cancer; the Alzheimer’s Association claims that while there is “circumstantial evidence” linking aluminum to Alzheimer’s, there is no causal relationship as of yet and “a possible link with aluminum seems increasingly unlikely.”

Perhaps the fact that Americans spent over $2.3 billion on deodorant and antiperspirant in 2006 is due to the fact that people were relieved by these scientific findings, or perhaps (and more likely) it is due to society’s fear of stink. Even though less than 5% of the population suffers from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and even fewer people suffer from particularly strong malodor, adults younger than 24 years old use deodorant 9 times per week, while average usage among all adults is once per day.

People are so afraid of offending others with their stench, in fact, that Botox has become a popular solution to sweating issues.  The neurotoxin actually paralyzes sweat glands when it is injected in the armpits.

And what about showering? Well, most people aren’t going to own up to showering less often than they should – at least, according to societal standards. But there are growing indicators of a rebellious movement against daily bathing. Take, for example, the fact that dry shampoo sales have more than doubled from 2007 to 2009. And a Cosmopolitan Magazine poll found that only 36% of participants shower 7 times per week. 32% shower 5 – 6 times per week and a surprisingly high 26% shower only 3 – 4 times per week.

Most people know that a major benefit of abstaining from washing hair everyday is preserving the natural oils found in the scalp and preventing dryness, but did you know that the same benefit applies to skin? Not only are you removing lipids and oils from the skin (which may cause eczema and other dry skin conditions) when you shower, but you are also removing good bacteria that maintain healthy skin. Similar to the way that the human gut contains good bacteria, the skin also contains beneficial bacteria that produce antibiotics, which kill off bad bacteria.

It is completely understandable if you are repulsed by the idea of not showering daily; however, it seems perfectly reasonable to believe that the advent of cars, the decline of farming, and other modern day conveniences have simply lowered showering on society’s list of priorities. Bathing just isn’t as important as it was eighty years ago, when the world was a dirtier place.

Here at TIA, there is more than one of us who forgoes deodorant (in favor of going au natural or, in one case, using rose oil), and while we can’t quite get over the idea of not showering daily, we’re on board for an every other day hose down (with the exception of gym days and sticky summer days) with a wash cloth swipe in between.