If you spent 30 minutes per day showering and applying products, over the course of a long life—100 years, for ease of math—you would spend 18,250 hours washing. At that rate, not showering frees up about three years of your life.
Friends and family suggested that I would have trouble enjoying the extra time because I would feel gross, unkempt. My mother worried I’d get sick from some germs I failed to clean off. I would miss the basic humanity of the routines that compel us to take time for ourselves, and that give us at least some semblance of power to present ourselves as we wish the world would see us. There was a chance I’d miss the simple ritual of taking a nice warm shower and emerging each morning like a new person ready to face the day.
But what if none of this happened? What if I actually got fewer colds, and my skin looked better, and I found other, better routines and rituals? What if all those products in our bathrooms—shampoos to remove oils from our hair, and conditioners to replace them; soaps to remove oils from our skin, and moisturizers to replace them—were mostly effective in getting us to buy more products? How do you really know if you’ve never gone more than a couple days without showering?