Living in a tropical country means showering is part of any Filipino’s daily routine. While there are a fortunate few who can get away with skipping a day every once in awhile during the colder months, majority of us need to jump in the shower on the reg to wash away all that sweat that’s dried on our skin.
Of course, while this makes us all very familiar with the act, many don’t realize that you can actually be doing it completely wrong, or at least, ineffectively. That 30-second soap-and-rinse drill you’ve been accustomed to since you were a kid? Definitely not enough to keep you squeaky clean and smelling fresh.
And if you’re the type who thinks swiping on some deodorant is enough, then don’t be surprised if no one wants to come close enough to even chat with you.
“If a person doesn’t shower for days, bad microbes may accumulate causing various bacterial and fungal skin infections (buni, an-an, and had-had). This increased transmission can cause body odor,” warns Dr. Nadine Baclagan, a Dermatology resident at UERM Memorial Medical Center. So if you don’t want to perpetually smell funky, practice some basic hygiene.
“Oil build-up in the setting of sweat and pollutants may clog skin pores resulting to pimples,” says Dr. Baclagan. And if that’s still not enough to convince you to give proper showering a try, do it for your little buddy. “Uncircumcised men with poor hygiene are more prone to urinary tract and yeast infections, cancer of the penis, and foreskin abnormalities.”
Apart from cleaning your body of all the impurities that settle on your skin throughout the day, showering also has a few added benefits like “improving blood circulation, reducing stress, and relaxing the muscles,” explains Dr. Baclagan. And if you get all of that, and also coming out smelling nice, then what have you got to lose?
So the next time you step into the shower, keep in mind these few simple tips to make the most out of this daily hygiene routine.
1) Don’t shower in hot water
No, we’re not just saying that because we know you probably need a cold one in the morning. Bathing in hot water, especially for longer than 10 minutes, which Dr. Baclagan says should be the maximum amount of time spent showering, leads to dry skin. Extended time under hot water strips your skin of its natural oils, and disturbs the stratum corneum, the outer most layer of skin which acts as a protective barrier against bacteria and harsh elements.
2) Start at the top
By washing your hair first, you make sure there’s no more dirt, sweat, dead skin, and oil from your hair that might transfer to your face. Use the right amount of shampoo so that you can keep a healthy level of sebum, which is the natural oil you produce that keeps your hair and skin hydrated. Also, rub your head gently when lathering up, and avoid using your nails since that can scratch your scalp.
3) Pay attention to the hot zones
While you should, of course, scrub your entire body clean, there are two places you should give more attention: your underarms and genital area. Dr. Baclagan explains that because of all the sweat glands and the hair down there, these places are breeding grounds for bacteria. So if you don’t want to stink up, wash thoroughly. If you’ve got a hairy chest, you should give that area a once over, too.
4) Use the right products for your skin
We’re not saying a regular bar of soap is now off-limits. But if you’ve got dry skin, cleansers and liquid washes are better for you, especially when they pack a lot of hydrating elements. If you’ve got naturally oily skin, choose something that’s water-based instead of oil-based. Dr. Baclagan also adds: “Men who have hypersensitive skin can use products that are labeled as fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic. You should also avoid using loofahs that may accelerate skin drying and may harbor bacteria.”
Always remember that moderation is key. It’s recommended that you don’t shower more than once a day, with the exception of after gym sessions that can leave you sweaty and stinky. As a final note from our dermatologist, keep this mind: “Too frequent bathing in a day may eliminate the resident good bacteria in our skin, and predispose us to opportunistic infections like those caused by fungus.”
Grooming is an art, gents, and some of us do it better than others. Trust that keeping fresh and hygienic is just as beneficial for the rest of mankind as it is for you.