Is our modern obsession with showering just another form of hygiene theater? That’s the premise of James Hamblin’s new book Clean: The New Science of Skin, which Brooke Jarvis reviews in the August 3 & 10 issue of the New Yorker. (In May, the New Yorker published Jarvis’s wonderful piece about eels. No matter what you think you think, or don’t think, about eels, you should read that piece.)
James Hamblin stopped showering five years ago (he still washes his hands, you’ll be glad to know), and is doubtful, Jarvis writes, “about all the scrubbing and soaping—not to mention moisturizing and deodorizing and serum-and-acid application—to which we subject the rest of our body’s largest organ, and about the companies that spend a lot of money to convince us that we must do so to be clean.”
It’s those companies, and their massive marketing budgets, that interest me.