The Nothing Shower - A Chill Alternative To The Viral Everything Shower

Self-care practices have always been important, but they've taken on special significance in the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic and its "new normal" aftermath sent us in search of ways to de-stress and gain some semblance of calm in the midst of anxious times. Exercise, meditation, bread-baking, outdoor hikes, Netflix bingeing — you name it, we tried it. 

A simple but luxurious pleasure is the joy of a shower. In the morning, it's a refreshing wake-up ritual; in the evening, it's a great way to unwind and get into sleep mode. Some people take the idea to the max by indulging in an "everything shower": a lengthy bathing session featuring lots of pampering on every inch of the body. TikTok user @faithglenn posted the perfect example of the trend. She demonstrated a two-hour (!) marathon of shampooing, conditioning, massaging, loofah scrubbing, shaving, and products galore: body butter and lotion, toner, ingrown hair remover, face roller, tooth whitening strips, facial serums, and moisturizers. Just being able to set aside two hours for a head-to-toe cleansing and skin care seems deliciously sinful.

But for every up-and-coming trend, there's an equally appealing counter-trend. We can be thrilled by the pixie dust nails technique one minute and switch to a basic French tip the next. The same is true for everything showers. If you like the coziness of a shower but not the idea of lathering and slathering forever, there's an alternate self-care ritual for you.

You can ditch the bath products with a nothing shower

The minimalist answer to the "everything shower" is the "nothing shower," a concept that won TikTok user @alexandra.r.simpson nearly 110,000 likes when she posted about it in January 2023. "We all know about everything showers, but I'm all about nothing showers," she captioned her short video. "Turn on the water, sit in the tub, and wash absolutely nothing. Excellent for migraine management, muffling sobs, and hiding from responsibilities." 

Simpson's fans heartily approved, saying they do the same thing to relieve a variety of ailments, from sinus congestion to headaches. "I've never related to anything more in my life!" said one astounded commenter. "I do this when I have cramps," said a follower. Another said that when they feel sick, "I quickly scrub, then just sit for an hour." A user whose tag indicates she has the autoimmune condition lupus remarked, "Mine are chronic pain baths. I sit in the hot water for 30 minutes, wash nothing, but get slight joint relief." Other fans attested that taking a water-only shower helps them with symptoms of panic attacks and bipolar disorder, and still others confessed that a nothing shower is their cherished escape when the pressures of home and family get overwhelming.

Water-only bathing has multiple benefits

Experts back up TikToker Alexandra Simpson's claims that a nothing shower is good for you. The Mayo Clinic confirms that migraines can be warded off with warm showers to relax the muscles in the neck. (So can ice packs, if you prefer a chillier remedy.) A recent study from Germany also indicates that bathing in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes can ease depression symptoms. One explanation, per The University of California, Irvine, is the brain responds to the warmth of a shower or bath by releasing the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Think about how good you feel after you've stepped out of a steamy shower, or even the sun-warmed ocean. There's no indication that a shower creates this effect any more efficiently than a bath, or vice versa, so a short stay in a hot tub or comfy bath could be a good substitute.

Believe it or not, no-frills bathing is also healthier for your body than one featuring scrubs and gels. Your skin naturally produces a layer of "good" bacteria that protects it from drying out. Using gels and scrubs may make you feel and smell cleaner, but you're actually removing that helpful barrier and leaving yourself susceptible to itchiness and infection. When you stop using soap all the time, your body has a chance to replenish itself. So make a habit of ditching the bath products every few days and just enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of being in plain H2O.