The bath vs the shower debate is one of those debates that will go on forever because it’s usually a matter of preference: some feel better after a good long bubble bath and some after a short intense hot (or cold) shower.
But just like coffee and tea have their benefits and drawbacks, so do baths and showers.
If you’re looking for an actual objective answer to which is best – a bath or a shower, here are what you should keep in mind:
Taking a Bath: The Benefits and Drawbacks
First and foremost – and the one that comes to most people’s mind – taking a bath can be good for alleviating stress.
But did you know this isn’t just our mind playing tricks and has an actual reason behind it?
Baths can reduce cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is also known as a stress hormone and its heightened levels can influence the body in multiple negative ways: facilitate weight gain, increase acne, induce premature aging, etc.
No, before you ask, baths can’t make you lose weight, but heightened cortisol can impede the weight loss process even if you do everything else right – and that’s what the regular baths help with.
Another benefit of taking a bath is that it makes it easy to apply certain ingredients to the skin, so if you suffer from some kind of skin condition, be it something serious like eczema or easily treatable like light sunburn, for example, it can make the process of applying medication easier.
One way of helping with relaxation in the bath is by dropping in a bath bomb of your preference. Whether to help with Sore Muscles, easing the effects of Sunburn or Mind & Muscle Relief, the choice is yours.
Many think that the big drawback of taking a bath is that it can actually make getting clean more difficult, since whatever dirt you wash off stays in the water, instead of going down the drain – this is not exactly true. The dirt you wash off settles away from the body in the bathwater. But you should rinse off before you get out of the tub, to get rid of what little could still stick to you.
The biggest drawback of a bath is its length. The time people spend taking it is often vastly over the limit most doctors consider beneficial (which is around 15 minutes). And the longer (and hotter) the bath, the worse the effect on your skin – frequently taking long hot baths can lead to irritation and even inflammation. Since water strips the skin of its natural oils, the longer the bath, the more dehydrated your skin becomes. So make sure to moisturize it very well, after you get out of the bathtub to avoid skin problems in the future.
Taking a Shower: The Benefits and Drawbacks
The biggest benefit of the shower is probably its convenience – especially in the current busy world. It generally tends to be shorter and less messy than a bath, which is already an upside right there.
But if we were to talk about the actual benefits of the shower – first and foremost, they can be more hygienic in certain cases. For example, after an intense workout (or a hot summer day) that leaves you sweaty or if you’re wearing heavy makeup – the shower takes all the dirt particles down the drain, leaving nothing behind. It also makes it easier to fully wash the shampoo out of your hair, which can be surprisingly complicated while you’re taking a bath (so make sure to rinse your hair extra well during that final rinse-off if you’re a bath person).
A shower is overall better for your skin since your body comes in contact with less water and the contact typically lasts for a shorter period of time. But do keep in mind that the adverse effect of hot water, while minimized, is still there – if your shower lasts for as long as the bath would, or you take them too often, you’ll suffer from the same consequences as someone who tends to overindulge in hot baths far too – the skin’s surface will start breaking down, which in turn may lead to irritations and inflammations.
So Which is Better?
In reality? The benefits and drawbacks of each are pretty close, so unless your skin needs very specific care (applying medicine for a skin condition would make baths a better choice, but if your skin is too dry and/or sensitive and needs special care, then showers would be preferable), you could go for either.
A Shower is better than a Bath for several reasons, not least the use of less water preventing waste, less cleaning products reducing potential environmental issues, and less time giving you more time to relax doing something else.
Just remember that neither should be too hot, last for too long or indulged in too often. In fact, according to most dermatologists, the best thing you can do is wash up when you’re actually dirty – which can be as infrequent as every 2-3 days. Or, at the very least, keep showers to just one a day, if you’re uncomfortable with that idea.