Let’s start with this: I like to smell good. I take pride in smelling good, even. As a beauty editor, fragrance lover, and person who aims (and, fine, often fails) to be sexually desirable at all times, smelling good is actually pretty high up on my list of priorities, nestled somewhere in between “mastering more than one type of braid” and “petting every dog I pass on my walk to the subway.” In that same vein, it should come as no surprise that hygiene is important to me. I brush my teeth twice a day. I diligently perform an extensive skin care routine when I wake up in the morning and before I go to bed at night. Hell, I even floss twice a day. How many people do you know who actually floss? Probably not that many.
I recognize that all of these practices are regarded as “normal,” if not necessary. You know, they’re standard—it’s strange, to me, if you don’t do them. That’s how most people feel about showering daily, too… but not me. Like, not even a little. There are a handful of reasons why I don’t shower every day, and approximately zero of them have anything to do with my race, as Naya Rivera recently speculated.
Make no mistake, there are also some things that make me a decent candidate for only showering every few days, if “a decent candidate for only showering every few days” is a thing. For starters, I rarely engage in any kind of rigorous physical exercise, although I definitely should (and definitely intend to someday, I guess), and I just don’t really have much of a natural human smell to begin with. I also have the kind of dry, damaged, positively brittle post-peroxide hair that wouldn’t care if it were never exposed to a drop of water again.
Then there’s the fact that the showers I do take are what I like to call a production. For me, for whatever reason, washing and deep conditioning my hair, exfoliating my limbs, shaving whatever warrants shaving, and scrubbing down with a body brush and shower gel (in that order) somehow adds up to 45 entire minutes, minimum. And what comes after the production? Post-production, naturally. Moisturizing, face and body—an additional 10. Air drying my parched mop of hair—two hours for complete dryness, 30 minutes before I can safely settle for leaving the house without a wet head. I’m sure my ex-boyfriends and former roommates have plenty of (great!) things to say about me, but if there’s one thing they’d all agree on, it’s how long I take in the shower. Also, how easily I cry.
I do this about once every four or five days (shower, not cry), but in between, I’m washing my face and hands as necessary, brushing my teeth, applying deodorant, dry shampooing my hair, putting on fresh makeup in the morning, and stepping through a mist of Diptyque Eau Duelle before I leave the house. People often comment on how good I smell—thanks, Diptyque!—or how good my hair looks. (For the record, I personally hate the way my freshly washed hair looks and feels. So much better on day two.)
I just don’t really feel bad about my bathing habits, nor do I think I should, because there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. Exposure to water, especially hot water, is incredibly drying to the skin and hair: That tight, “squeaky clean” feeling is actually the sensation of your skin drying out. That’s science. Also, you’ll find that the modern obsession with cleanliness is closely associated with the Christian ideal of purity, which is something I have little to no interest in, but that’s a different—completely irrelevant to beauty—conversation.
Sure, I may not have showered in four days, but if I don’t smell dirty, and I don’t look dirty, am I actually dirty? My guess is no, probably not. This all might sound like a bit of a confession (a dirty little secret?), but while I don’t shout the date of the last time I showered from the rooftops, it’s not because I’m concerned of what other people may think of me, it’s because it’s unremarkable to me. (Also, it would be weird if anyone shouted that from any rooftop in any context.) It’s a non-issue, and if the state of my person is not unpleasant to be around—yes, even in really, really close proximity—then why should it bother anyone? I’m not evangelizing or starting an anti-shower movement. If you shower every day, or even twice a day, that’s cool, too. I just can’t help but feel a little bad for the ends of your hair.
Read more: 5 Easy Dirty Hairstyles.