One journalist from the Atlantic stopped showering for one month just to see what would happen—and everything was surprisingly fine.

By Lauren Mazzo
January 31, 2020

Chances are you don't question your showering habits all that much. You simply wake up, work out, shower, then get ready for work. Well, this might make you rethink your relationship with rinsing.

James Hamblin, a journalist from the Atlantic, decided to gradually go wash-free. He was inspired by New York Times journalist Julia Scott who was a subject in another no-soap, no-shower experiment testing a living bacteria skin spray. The spray, developed by a biotech start-up, looks, feels, and tastes like water but is full of a special bacteria that scientists believe lived on our skin microbiome until we started ruthlessly washing it off. The idea: Your body can actually manage its little skin ecosystem if you stop messing with it.

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We're learning more and more about all the little bacteria hanging out inside our body (see: the buzz about probiotics, gut-friendly foods, and the importance of understanding how your digestive system impacts your overall health). Shouldn't we give the same attention to the bacteria outside of our body too?

Zero Creatives/Getty

So Hamblin said he slowly stopped using any soaps or moisturizers and even stopped using deodorant. He continues to wash his hands (in the name of preventing the spread of germs and diseases) and rinses with water when he's visibly dirty or has serious bedhead (but rarely steps inside an actual shower).

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The surprising results? He doesn't smell bad but, rather, smells like an actual human being. The thinking is that the detergents and products you add to your skin and hair every day disrupt the balance between the oils and the bacteria that live in the microbiome. When you shower aggressively, you kill off these camps of good bugs. They repopulate quickly, but the species are out of balance and your body tends to favor the "bad bugs," or the kinds of microbes that produce odor, according to the Atlantic. So if you stop using those harsh cleansers, your body can figure out how to equilibrate itself, letting good bacteria thrive and keeping bad bacteria at bay.

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We're not saying you should live your life like you're always at a music festival, but this might be a legitimate reason to go natural, at least some of the time. (You're going to want these hairstylist-approved tips for weaning yourself off the 'poo.) As gross as it may initially sound, it'll save you both time and money in the long run.

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This article originally appeared on Shape.com

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