Do We Bathe Too Much?

What would you think of someone who hasn’t showered in five years?

Meet James Hamblin. He occasionally gets his hair wet, but some time ago he quit using soap (except on his hands), shampoo, antibiotic deodorants, and similar personal-care products. And he hasn’t showered in five years.

He doesn’t recommend this lifestyle for everyone, but he says it changed his life. Why did he make such a drastic change? It wasn’t for environmental reasons (although that case can be made) or for economics, but rather as a part of a personal reevaluation, including a career change.

As you might expect, cutting out bathing was at times terrible, but it was done gradually and, after his body adjusted, he noticed some profound changes. He became more attuned with his body, his skin slowly became less oily, and he noticed fewer patches of eczema. Or as his girlfriend told him, he began smelling “like a person.”

This experience has led to a book, Clean: The New Science of Skin (, which makes a case for examining our personal philosophies and deciding whether there may not be a simpler, and overall healthier, lifestyle.

If this subject interests you, there is a Science Friday podcast interviewing Mr. Hamblin at

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *