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Clean science book review.

Clean: The New Science of Skin and the Beauty of Doing Less – by Dr. James Hamblin

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Our skin is our largest organ, and it’s easy to forget that, and how much it does for us. All things considered, it’s good to take good care of it! But what if we sometimes take too much “care” of it?

Dr. James Hamblin, a medical doctor-turned-writer, has explored this a lot both personally and in research. Through such, he has come to the conclusion there’s definitely a “sweet spot” of personal hygiene:

  • Too little, and the Bubonic plague sweeps through Europe, or other plagues sweep through other places when European invaders came.
  • Too much, and we strip our skin of one of its greatest qualities: the ability to protect us.

Dr. Hamblin asks (and answers) such questions as:

  • What is good hygiene, and what is neurotically doing ourselves multiple levels of harm because advertising companies shamed us into doing so?
  • Is it good or bad to use a series of products, each to undo the problem caused by the previous?
  • What the difference between a 5-step skincare routine, and a series of gratuitous iatrogenic damage?
  • Which products clean us most helpfully, and which clean us most harmfully?
  • How often should we bathe/shower, really?

If the book has a weak point, it’s that it’s written mostly with his body in mind. That makes a difference when it comes to hairwashing, for example. He’s a white guy with short hair. If you’re black and/or have long hair, for example, your haircare needs will be quite different. Similarly, many women engage in shaving/depilation in places that most men don’t, and the consequences of that choice (and implications for any extra washing needs/harms) aren’t covered.

Bottom line: notwithstanding the aforementioned blind-spots, this book will help readers reduce the amount of harm we are doing to our bodies with our washing routines, without sacrificing actual hygiene.

Click here to check out Clean and help your skin to help you!

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