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No, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to personal hygiene

Coming into contact with multiple people, places and things necessitate more frequent bathing, according to board-certified dermatologists.

In the past few weeks, celebrities like Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, and Jake Gyllenhaal have been extremely open about their daily hygiene routines and their kids’ habits. This information has caused a firestorm on social media, with many people discussing how often people should clean themselves and their children. 

The VERIFY team asked board-certified dermatologists what they recommend when it comes to personal hygiene habits for adults and kids. 

THE QUESTION

Is there a one-size-fits-all approach to personal hygiene?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to personal hygiene. Board-certified dermatologists say coming into contact with multiple people, places and things necessitates more frequent bathing.

WHAT WE FOUND

On July 19, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher appeared on actor Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast. When the topic turned to personal hygiene, the celebrity couple said they only bathe their young children when they are visibly dirty and they don’t wash themselves that often either. 

A few weeks later, Shepard’s wife, actress Kristen Bell, said on an episode of “The View” that she is “a big fan of waiting for the stink” before she bathes the couple’s two kids. 

Then, actor Jake Gyllenhaal told Vanity Fair in an article published on Aug. 5 that he finds bathing “to be less necessary, at times.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), when it comes to children, how often they bathe depends on how old they are and their daily activities.

For children who are 6 to 11 years old, the AAD says “taking a daily bath is fine, but children in this age group may not need a daily bath.” 

Instead, the AAD says children who are between the ages of 6 and 11 should bathe at least once or twice a week, when they get dirty, after being in a pool, lake, ocean, or another body of water when they get sweaty or have body odor, or as often as directed by a dermatologist if they are getting treated for a skin disease. 

Meanwhile, for tweens and teens, the AAD says it’s okay for them to shower or take a bath daily, wash their face twice a day to remove oil and dirt, or take a bath or shower after swimming, playing sports, or sweating heavily. 

Board-certified dermatologists Dr. Ivy Lee and Dr. Lauren Ploch both tell VERIFY the AAD’s recommendations for kids are similar to adults. 

“An individual's lifestyle, activity level, and how many products they use may dictate whether they need to shower on a daily basis or whether they need to shower less frequently,” said Lee. 

Ploch said by email that she never recommends washing the body more than once daily. She also made it clear that the absolute minimum for bathing in our current environment is around once a week because “dead skin cells and oil can build up and cause something like ‘terra firma forme,’ which looks like a rash.”

“People that work from home and exercise less often can bathe less often than someone that works outside of the home and/or exercises often,” said Ploch. “Coming into contact with multiple people, places, and things necessitates more frequent bathing. Some adults need to bathe daily. Some can go a few days between baths.” 

When it comes to how often someone should wash their hair, Lee says the guidance is similar to bathing. 

“It really depends on how active someone is and what they're exposed to in their lifestyle —  how much oil is accumulating naturally but also, with relation to their activity level, how much sweat is accumulating, dirt, if they're outdoors a lot, whether someone uses many hair care products or fewer hair care products, and then the type of hair,” said Lee. 

Other hygiene tips Lee and Ploch recommend include: 

  • Creating a daily hygiene and skincare routine 
  • Finding go-to skincare products and cleansers that fit your personal preferences and budget
  • Taking brief showers with warm water
  • Washing your body with your hands or lightly with a washcloth
  • Replacing towels at least once a week
  • Washing your hair when it’s dirty and cleansing your scalp at least once a week
  • Using gentle cleansers on your face and body
  • Washing your face once or twice daily, depending on activity level and how acne-prone you are
  • Exfoliating no more than once or twice every other week
  • Using daily moisturizers on your face and body

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