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Do You Really Need to Wash Your Legs in the Shower? We Asked an Expert

Plus, the A-list celebrity who confesses she never does.

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By now, you've probably got your showering routine down pat—lather, rinse, and repeat the next day. But because your clean routine quite literally takes place behind closed doors, you may not realize just how different it can be from other people's. One hygiene habit in particular has divided the internet: Do you really need to wash your legs while showering or bathing?

In search of a definitive answer, Best Life reached out to a dermatologist for an expert take. Read on to learn whether you need to specifically wash your legs—and to find out which A-list celebrity said they never do.

READ THIS NEXT: Doctor Who Hasn't Showered in Years Thinks Others Should Join Him.

Some people say washing your legs is unnecessary.

young black man leaning against shower wall with head in spray

A 2019 Twitter poll that garnered over 800,000 votes found that roughly 20 percent of people surveyed don't bother to wash their legs in the shower. Perhaps the most famous accidental spokesperson for this approach is Taylor Swift, who confessed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that she counts shaving her legs as cleaning them.

Many on that side of the argument explained that they didn't feel that their legs require any particular attention, since they don't get particularly sweaty or produce an odor. Many also felt confident that by soaping their upper bodies, they were inadvertently cleaning the legs with the help of gravity.

READ THIS NEXT: These Are the Only 3 Body Parts You Need to Wash Every Day, Doctor Says.

Most people should wash their legs just like any other body part.

Legs of the girl standing under the shower under the stream of water, health beauty and hygiene concept.

While some of our sweatier body parts get smelly without frequent cleaning, legs are a low-maintenance zone, since they have relatively few sebaceous glands. That said, you should always wash skin that is visibly dirty or sweaty, no matter where it is.

Beyond that, you can wash your legs pretty minimally, "preferably with liquid cleanser or mild bar soap, such as Cetaphil or Cerave Bar soaps," advises Emmanuel (Michael) R. Loucas, MD, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital who practices in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida. A deeper scrubbing or exfoliation is likely not necessary, he says.

Some people can—and should—limit their leg-washing.

older woman scratching her lower legs

Loucas says that for those with sensitive skin, washing regularly can do more harm than good. "In general, your legs do not produce any significant body odor, other than your feet," says Loucas.

"The most common reason I will tell my patients not to wash their legs is because in people with eczema, the most common areas to have dry skin are the legs. Even in those people who only have dry skin, the most commonly affected areas are the legs. Soaps, even the mildest, remove the natural oils from your skin. This allows the evaporation of moisture from your skin, resulting in increased dryness," he tells Best Life.

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These other tips can help protect sensitive skin, Loucas advises.

Close up of a woman applying lotion to her leg that's propped on a table.
Drazen_ / iStock

After bathing or showering, Loucas says your next step should always be to pat yourself dry, rather than rubbing your skin with a towel. That's because the latter can cause irritation, especially in those with sensitive skin.

Loucas adds that if you plan to shave your legs, you should always try to shave downward with the grain of your hair. "Try to use creamy cleansers or even fragrance-free moisturizer to shave your legs if you have dry skin," he adds. "I would also suggest applying a moisturizer, such as Aquaphor Ointment Spray, after bathing. It absorbs well and traps the moisture better than your usual creamy moisturizer."

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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