Many people love the act of getting clean. In fact, the popular series Orange is the New Black begins its first episode with a voiceover from the central character, Piper Chapman, extolling the virtues of bathing and showering. These acts are comforting ones that many people truly enjoy, and use as much for relaxation as for cleaning their bodies. However, a little-known fact is that washing too much can actually hinder cleanliness. The key for people of all ages is learning how to wash correctly so as to keep the body clean, balanced, and odor-free.
When washing the body, the practice of “less is more” should be remembered. While the phrase often refers to minimalist design, it is also perfectly suited to the subject of body care, as well. Most people wash daily, aiming to remove sweat, impurities, and odor from all areas of the body. The common practice most of us engage in is to wash the entire body with a soap or shower gel. The reason we do this is simple: these types of cleansers are meant to combine with impurities and dirt and make them more soluble, and therefore easier to remove from the body.
However, there’s one big problem with this practice: sweat and most impurities are already water soluble, and can be washed away by simply rinsing the body with water. Sweat only results in body odor because it is made up of a combination of water and organic substances that provide a prime environment in which bacteria can grow; however, this doesn’t mean it is difficult to remove. In fact, is much better for the body in general to rinse off sweat and impurities rather than wash them away.
You may be wondering why it’s better to rinse the body to free it from sweat and impurities. After all, is soap is a cleansing agent, why not use that regardless, and be extra clean? The problem with this is that washing can strip the body of things that keep it balanced and nourished. For example, our skin contains good bacteria that are actually necessary in keeping it clean and odor-free. Washing less frequently preserves this bacteria; washing daily strips it away.
Our bodies also have natural oils that don’t cause odor or result in any negative effects. Instead, they keep the body moisturized. Washing too frequently strips the body of this moisture, making skin dry. When this happens, the body often kicks oil production into over-drive, which then may result in oily skin. Continuing to wash too frequently will only exacerbate the problem, creating a never-ending cycle of the body over-producing oil to compensate for the frequent stripping of its existing oils by soap. Knowing this, you may be wondering why we use soap at all. One main reason is that removing body odor requires more focus.
The areas that cause body odor must be thoroughly washed; this is especially true for anyone over the age of 40. After that age, the body’s natural antioxidant defenses weaken and can contribute to aging odor. Anyone over the age of 40 can wash daily, and be what we would refer to as “squeaky-clean,” but still having aging odor. So, what is aging odor?
Aging odor, also known as nonenal, comes from our sebaceous glands. These glands produce lipids, or fatty acids, which come into contact with the air and “oxidize,” resulting in an odor. As our skin’s defenses weaken naturally with age, nonenal production, and the resulting odor, may increase.
All body odor, including aging odor, requires more cleansing than the rest of the body. We’ve already touched upon the fact that simply rinsing is an effective way to clean sweat and impurities from the most parts of the body on a daily basis. However, there are five areas that do require daily washing with soap to keep one fresh and odor-free. These areas are behind the ears, behind the neck, the underarms, the groin, and the feet. These areas all produce oil that contribute to body odor, and because oil is not water soluble, soap is needed to truly remove it.
So, remember: less is more. It isn’t good for your body to over wash; you remove helpful bacteria and oils that maintain naturally balanced skin. Washing too much can result in dryness, or even more body odor. If you only wash behind your ears, behind your neck, under your arms, your groin, and your feet with soap, you are allowing your skin to stay healthy. Wash these areas, and simply rinse the rest of your body; you will feel clean and fresh, as well as naturally moisturized. You truly can wash less, and be cleaner. Remember: when it comes to cleaning the body, less is more!