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A growing number of people are cutting down on daily showering and hair-washing. So could you join the extreme soap-dodgers?
If you are reading this article over breakfast, the chances are you have recently stepped into the shower, lathered up your hair and torso, rinsed off, towelled and blow-dried, before dousing your armpits with deodorant, and wafting on a fog of perfume or aftershave.
Then again, maybe not. The New York Times has just reported on a new trend towards what's sometimes known as soap-dodging. Among those who have cut down on daily showers, baths or hair-washing were a woman who swipes a sliced lemon under her armpits instead of deodorant, another who uses baby wipes to freshen up after her lunchtime runs, and a salesman who shampoos only once a month and gave up anti-perspirant for three years.
Think this is only happening in the US? Think again. There are plenty of signs that this carefree attitude to cleanliness is popular in the UK too – and in some cases growing. Last year, a poll for tissue manufacturer SCA found that 41% of British men and 33% of women don't shower every day, with 12% of people only having a proper wash once or twice a week. (These figures place us behind Australia, Mexico and France in the personal hygiene stakes.) Around the same time, research by Mintel found that more than half of British teenagers don't wash every day – with many opting for a quick spray of deodorant to mask any stink.
Over the last few years there have been regular suggestions that daily hair-washing, or even any hair-washing at all, is quite unnecessary, with the commentator Matthew Parris admitting he hadn't shampooed his hair for a decade, and broadcaster Andrew Marr reporting himself perfectly happy with the results when he followed suit for a short while. Many people clearly agree that a regular hair-wash is a hassle. In 2008, Boots reported a 45% rise in sales of dry shampoo ( a product that can be sprayed on hair between showers), while the Batiste brand has recently seen its sales double...