The hot shower is an integral part of most Americans' morning, and you would probably have to search hard to find someone who didn’t have a stick of deodorant in their bathroom closet. Despite this, a growing number of individuals are doing away with this culture of cleanliness and opting to erase showers from their daily routine. One New York Times journalist recorded her sans-bathing experiences, concluding that besides her visibly greasy hair, it actually isn’t so bad.

The Times journalist, Julia Scott, spent four weeks without so much as touching a bar of soap. Instead, Scott relied on AOBiome’s A+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist to keep her fresh. The spray contains billions of cultivated Nitrosomonas eutropha, an ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) that can be found in dirt and untreated water, the NY Times reported.

Its creators hypothesize that these bacteria, which also grow naturally on humans, work as a cleanser, deodorant, anti-inflammatory, and immune system boosters. They thrive on the surface of skin, feeding off the ammonia in our sweat and giving off nitrate and nitric oxide as a byproduct. The spray is meant to replace these bacteria that have been literally washed away from our bodies due to years of daily showers.

The Downside of Being 'Dirty'

For the most part, Scott describes her showerless four weeks as anything but unclean. Although the journalist felt self-conscious of her body odor, those who volunteered to smell her underarms described picking up a faint whiff of onions or “pleasant pot,” but nothing that would suggest she had boycotted bathing. Scott described the worst part of her experience as the oily appearance her hair took on following weeks without shampoo. “People began asking if I’d 'done something new' with my hair, which turned a full shade darker from being coated in oil that my scalp wouldn’t stop producing,” Scott explained in her NY Times article.

The Perks of Not Bathing

Aside from the oily scalp and slight underarm smell, Scott noted that going without bathing came with unexpected perks. “My skin began to change for the better. It actually became softer and smoother, rather than dry and flaky, as though a sauna’s worth of humidity had penetrated my winter-hardened shell. And my complexion, prone to hormone-related breakouts, was clear. For the first time ever, my pores seemed to shrink,” Scott wrote. In the end, the experience wasn’t life-changing enough to keep the journalist shower-free forever. However, it did make her toss nearly all of her expensive chemical personal hygiene products and opt for a basic soap and fragrance-free shampoo. After one week of showering, nearly all the bacteria that Scott had grown thanks to the A+ spray was gone. “I had come to think of them as 'mine,' and yet I had evicted them,” she wrote, explaining her mixed feelings at the realization that she was once again “clean.”

Healthy Bacteria

It may be that the Western world’s obsession with cleanliness is actually unnecessary. The bacteria our skin naturally creates is capable of not only keeping us clean but keeping us healthy as well. Some experts believe that one day science will be able to harness the power of "healthy bacteria" and use them to cure disease, heal severe wounds, and perhaps more.

“Those with wounds that fail to respond to antibiotics could receive a probiotic cocktail adapted to fight the specific strain of infecting bacteria. Body odor could be altered to repel insects and thereby fight malaria and dengue fever. And eczema and other chronic inflammatory disorders could be ameliorated,” Dr. Elizabeth Grice, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, told the NY Times. The creators of AOBiome A+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist swear by their product. The chairman of the company’s board of directors, Jamie Heywood, only showers once or twice a month and washes his hair, at most, three times a year.

The inventor of the product, David Whitlock, hasn’t showered for the past 12 years. Scott, who met these men while working on her story, described them as being neither unclean to her eyes or nose. The Daily Mail reported that cutting down on daily washes is a trend that is gaining popularity. The online publications reported that 41 percent of British men and 33 percent of British women admitted to not taking daily showers. A further 12 percent admitted to going as far as only showering once a week. According to the creators of A+ Mist, this small percentage may be better off than the rest of the showering population.