Taking a Shower Could Be Killing Your Sex Drive—Here’s How

We all want to feel clean and look great for a night out, but what if your pre-date shower is standing in the way of your making your best impression?

showerGeorge Rudy/ShutterstockYou’d think dating would be easy considering that science has basically turned dating into, well, a science. For example, researchers have given us a list of the things you should never say on a first date. And science has a pretty strong opinion on the current value of online dating. Science has even come up with some pretty “seductive” theories on why you seem to always go for the same “type.” But what if we told you that dating is a lot simpler than all that—that, in fact, the secret to successful dating starts with a shower?

Or, more specifically, no shower. That’s right: We’re suggesting that you consider not showering before your next date, and we’ve got three good reasons:

  1. You’re already showering too often, potentially stripping your skin of natural oils that keep it soft and hydrated.
  2. Your shower routine could include soaps and other cleansers that have been scientifically proven to make you less sexy. As far back as 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already knew that the active ingredients in antibacterial soaps, namely triclosan and triclocarban—but also 17 others—were potentially dangerous. Since then, scientists have actually demonstrated that exposure to triclosan has been linked to a decrease in sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. And less of those hormones means a lower sex drive. Last year the FDA officially banned all 19 of those ingredients from soaps sold over the counter, which ban went into effect last month.
    But take it from this former practicing attorney: Wording is everything. The FDA’s ban doesn’t apply to anything other than “over-the-counter (OTC) consumer antiseptic products intended for use with water.” And that means that it doesn’t apply to virtually anything else that might be part of your shower routine, from the laundry detergent you use on your bath towels to the toothpaste you use to make your teeth sparkle.
    The FDA advises that you look at the labels on your shower (and other) products. “If a cosmetic contains triclosan, it should be included in the ingredient list on the product label.”
  3. Your natural scent is an important part of sexual attraction. A paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology that reviewed 73 studies on sexual attractiveness found wide scientific agreement on the notion that attraction is a function of many factors, and especially “body odor.” That’s right, body odor. Your natural scent, which has been scientifically proven to provide subconscious clues as to who we are and who we belong with.
    “Our natural body odor is the representation of our immune system genes, and women use their noses to choose their ‘correct’ biological mate to ensure maximum fertility and child health,” according to renowned olfactory expert Rachel Herz, PhD. By slathering ourselves with artificial fragrances, we may be fooling potential mates—and also, cheating ourselves, particularly because it’s difficult to pin down exactly which artificial fragrance your potential mate might prefer. Research conducted on behalf of AXE body products revealed that in women in different cities prefer different scents on men, some of which would be virtually impossible to find in a grooming product (for example, in New York, it’s the scent of coffee; in Houston, it’s the scent of barbecue).
    Therefore, your own natural scent may be your most seductive cologne. In fact, Dr. Herz recommends that if you think a date has potential, ask him/her to skip the scents for a bit. “If your nose and heart remain enamored, then you’re on to something good,” she says. If you do decide to skip the shower but feel self-conscious without any scent to hide behind, essential oils expert Margaret Szura advises finding an essential oil that you, yourself, particularly like, and either dabbing a drop or two on each wrist or simply taking a whiff from the bottle. “That should help to enhance your own feelings of attractiveness without disrupting anything, including your hormones.”

Finally, we’d like to point out that of the 30 dating deal breakers identified by men and the 25 dating deal breakers identified by women, not a single one involved “not having showered immediately before the date.”

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers health, fitness, yoga, and lifestyle, among other topics. An author of crime fiction, Lauren's book The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.