For most people, taking a nice hot shower is something of a daily ritual.

But, according to a new study, rinsing off under the shower or in the bath isn’t as important as you might think.

Researchers at Colombia University have discovered that washing too frequently can dry out and crack your skin.

These openings then allow bacteria and other microbes to get into your body.

And although you might be washing off some of the smells of the day you’re also washing off natural oils that your skin produces.

“I think showering is mostly for aesthetic reasons,” said Dr. Elaine Larson, an infectious disease expert at Columbia University School of Nursing.

“People think they’re showering for hygiene or to be cleaner, but bacteriologically, that’s not the case,” she told TIME.

The research from Larson and her team also revealed that antibacterial hand washes and other cleaning products aren’t necessarily better than plain old soap.

“Bathing will remove odor if you’re stinky or have been to the gym,” she said.

But explained that when it comes to protecting yourself from illness, washing your hands is the way to do it.

 

Larson and other experts didn’t come clean on exactly how often you need to shower – but they agree it doesn’t need to be every day.

“I think most people over-bathe,” said Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University.

And what about when it comes to washing your hair?

“Some people with a dry scalp and hair probably only need to lather it every few weeks,” said Mitchell.

And even if you have dandruff or other scalp issues, you should be okay with just washing your locks a couple of times a week.

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