By Iolee Anagnostopoulou

Here’s the thing: If somebody’s self-hygiene doesn’t match my standards, it’s highly unlikely that we two will become close—literally or metaphorically speaking. And I don’t mean to sound like a stuck-up, snobbish hypochondriac, but after years of sharing accommodation and a brief career in Housekeeping, my eyes have seen A LOT! 

I honestly find it inconceivable how some people can live comfortably in stinking pigsties, where I struggle to find a molecule of breathable oxygen! Yet, when humanity found itself in the midst of the current pandemic, people complained that the governments’ instructions on how to wash our hands were ‘an insult to our intelligence’. 

Then part of those people also decided that given the lack of formality in quarantine, they don’t have to take a shower or use deodorant daily! No, seriously guys, you need to.

How Much Is Good Enough?

Showering regularly isn’t just about looking attractive. It also keeps you healthy by eliminating toxins, germs and viruses. Depending on your skin type, activity level and season of the year, your ideal showering frequency can be anywhere between every other day to twice daily. 

Don’t overdo it though, as it can lead to dryness and itchiness. Nevertheless, you do need to shower often, regardless of your mobility levels. The sweat glands all over your body inevitably produce sweat which mingles with the build-up of bacteria on your skin and triggers body odour. 

What’s more, infrequent showers can lead to the accumulation of dead skin cells, sweat and bacteria, which can exacerbate dermatological conditions, like dermatitis, eczema or hyperpigmentation.

Shower Types

Showering daily doesn’t necessarily include washing your hair or using cosmetic products.
Besides, there’s more than one type of shower:

  • Warm, long showers—hair included—are good for deep cleansing every other day.
  • Short, cold showers are excellent after waking up or post-workout. 
  • A man shower is wetting your hair without shampooing it. 
  • A sponge bath is washing your face, armpits and groin over the sink with a washcloth.
  • A Sure-er is just spraying deodorant or perfume, creating a mixup of gym aroma and Chanel No.5.
  • If you replace a shower with the killer combination of deodorant and dry-shampoo- congratulations, you’ve got yourself an air-freshener!  

And by the way, a lie-down bath also needs a shower afterwards.

What Does Low Hygiene Project?

When I was little, my parents always made sure I was clean and presentable at all times. God forbid if a neighbour noticed a scruffy child—the kid’s parents would be talked about and their parenting savagely judged by the ‘Neighbourhood Inquisition’. 

This societal approach may be far from ideal, but it did teach me to be mindful about my body’s state. Hygiene should be felt as a personal responsibility, not as a chore imposed by social pressure. I always thought that people with poor hygiene had a problematic relationship with themselves, like a sort of self-hatred. Follow me on this experiment!

Picture a person who showered this morning, used deodorant, brushed their teeth, put on clean clothes and walked out of their door confidently, ready to seize the day by putting their best foot forward. Now picture somebody who hasn’t showered in a week, doesn’t own deodorant or a toothbrush, wears smelly clothes and is self-conscious about their proximity to people. 

Quite a different mindset, right? Unfortunately—and I feel guilty about that—as a society, we mostly associate poor hygiene with things we disdain: homelessness, laziness, poverty etc. However, self-neglect has also been linked to depression or other emotional disorders, and there’s even medication for it. Obviously, such circumstances are different, but I’m addressing mainly two categories of people: 

a. Those genuinely oblivious towards the right practises of self-hygiene
b. Modern-day hippie-wannabes, who feel a weird sense of pride in their own stink—sorry to break it to you, but showering every once in a blue moon doesn’t make you counterculture, it just makes you offensive to people’s olfactory glands.  

The more people I meet, the more I realise that each person’s idea of cleanliness differs significantly, regardless of nationality. In the past, I’ve had to endure living with extremely messy Spanish and British roommates. I also had a French ex-boyfriend, who would drive me crazy by tossing his jacket on the floor, as if it’s something so natural—whereas I learned NOT to do that when I was five!

Twice daily showering for me is a must, especially after morning exercise and before bed. I just function better when I’m starting my day refreshed, and then putting a clean body under my clean sheets before sleep.

Maintaining good personal hygiene has immense health, mental and emotional benefits. It also sends a message that you practise self-respect and you care about the comfort of those around you. As a popular Greek saying goes ‘cleanliness is half the beauty’.