Americans are overwashed. Really. We take more frequent showers than any other people anywhere on earth, and across all of human time. Recently, I decided to think twice about the impulse to jump out of bed and into the shower practically every day. I mean–why? It’s not like I’m actually dirty. My hair might be flat and sort of ucky, but I can wash it in the sink. This takes less water, and much less time–lightening and simplifying my life on multiple levels. It also allows my skin to retain its natural oils– free from the daily dousing of hot water and soap, my skin is much softer and moister, and I need less lotion.
Think you need a shower to “wake up?” I always thought so, but try this:
–Pat your head and face gently all over on awakening.
–Give your hair a quick wash in the sink with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo. It’s paraben- free, and really does tingle–not just during the shampooing, but for a long while after. I just love this stuff. You could also add a couple drops of tea tree oil to your usual shampoo. If your kids are in summer camp or a school with lice issues, this will also help deter nits!
–Dry brush your skin every morning. This feels so good and invigorating, and allows the skin to exfoliate, while maintaining its natural moisture content. There are also benefits to the lymphatic system, muscular health, and the nervous system from dry brushing! They say it even decreases cellulite…
Feeling funky? Maybe all you need is a PTA Bath. When I was in fifth grade, we visited my dad’s family in Iowa. One day my mom said, “Lyanda, you should take a shower today,” and Gramma Carrie, who raised five children in poverty in rural Iowa, said, “Oh, she just needs a PTA bath.” We raised our eyebrows, and my cute little gramma shocked us by saying nonchalantly, “Pussy, tits, and armpits.” Ha! But that’s often plenty…
Lately, seeing the rampant media images from refugee camps across the globe–victims of natural, environmental, and political tragedy, living in waterless tents–I’ve realized more than ever how lightly I take the privilege of ready access to cheap, clean water. On a recent trip to Ethiopia, Tom took this amazing photo of a man carrying his day’s water from the river near Debre Birhan.
This isn’t about guilt–it’s about living our lives simply, beautifully, intentionally. We just don’t have to do what we always thought we had to do by rote. I’m not fanatic about fewer showers–if I’m gross, or sweaty, or smelly, or just really want a shower, I have one, gratefully. But fewer is better in lots of ways, and I’ve come to really enjoy the simplicity of non-shower days.
Thanks to Flickr users NeilsPhotogrpahy and stevedepolo.