Are daily showers a thing of the past?

ThinkstockThinkstockOver the weekend, The New York Times published a story about a trend that has many of us scratching our heads (literally): Showering infrequently-three times or fewer a week-is growing in popularity, not just among the hippie-granola sets, but for mainstream professionals as well. High-powered workers like Jenefer Palmer of Malibu, California, chief executive for the Osea skincare line, told the paper that only does she regularly skip bathing, she also avoids using deodorant while both traveling and meeting clients in high-powered meetings. Phew.

The Times article calls this a "season of nonbathing, " though we've been noticing the trend for a while. In the past few years, beauty companies have subtly begun catering to the unwashed crowd. Multiple haircare brands like TRESemme and Bumble & Bumble, have introduced spray-on dry shampoos, which mask an oily appearance and provide not-so-fresh consumers with an extension on their next hair wash. According to market research firm the NPD Group, sales of dry shampoo "more than doubled" from 2007 to 2009. Likewise, Febreze products (like the Febreze Fabric Refresher) which makes dirty jeans and stinky t-shirt underarms smell as if they're fresh from the wash, continue to make record sales (they took in over $800 million annually back in 2008 and they're still growing).
Fashion is also enabling the unclean fad: More and more popular designers like Alexander Wang are re-popularizing the grunge look this season and messy hair and disheveled, layered clothing are currently all the rage.

To be fair, there are some real benefits to showering with less frequency (besides having extra time to snooze or surf the web). First, it's more eco-friendly, because, well, you're using less water and cleaning products. Secondly, infrequent scrubbing can actually be beneficial for hair and skin-when you wash too often you may be stripping away your skin's essential oils, which can lead to dryness, premature aging, and make you more prone to acne or eczema. In addition, most hair stylists consider daily shampooing not only unnecessary, but actually bad for the hair because it dehydrates the scalp and makes hair dye fade more quickly. Last, Dr. Richard Gallo, chief of the dermatology division at the University of California, San Diego, told the New York Times that it's good to have a layer of surface germs because "they produce their own antibiotics that kills off bad bacteria."

So skipping a shower here and there may be beneficial for our immune systems and appearance, but showering makes you feel good! And good about yourself! Besides, grungy hair and body odor is completely offensive-can we all at least agree on this? Do you really want to be the coworker everyone secretly thinks smells?

We've decided to conduct our own anonymous hygiene poll. Answer the question below, then weigh in on this new anti-shower trend in the comments section. [NY Times]