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‘Selective washing’ – only cleaning your ‘pits, bits, holes and soles’ – is gaining traction for being kinder to your skin, and the planet

If you've ever been to a festival, chances are you've had a “festival wash”, i.e. washing using a cleansing wipe or wet cloth across all the important areas – no shower required. The experience is always perfunctory and never preferable. Or is it?

According to trend agency WGSN, the festival wash, or “selective washing” as it’s becoming known, is having a bit of a moment due to the fact it’s kinder to the environment and to our microbiomes compared to standard daily showering or bathing.

“In the coming year, ditching a full-body wash in favour of speedy, targeted cleanses will be acceptable and ethical,” Clare Varga, Head of Beauty at WGSN, tells GLAMOUR UK. “Driven by efficiency rather than laziness, a ‘pits and bits’ strategy for everyday hygiene will see consumers choose products that save time and reduce water usage, while protecting skin.”

In part, the pandemic has acted as the catalyst behind this change in behaviour. Firstly, many of us reassessed our daily washing habits, ditching the daily hair wash in favour of a quick spray of dry shampoo and swapping the pre-work shower for a few more minutes in bed (after all, no one will be able to tell on Zoom, right?).

The pandemic also shifted our focus onto the environment, and we were all forced to take a good, hard look at our pre-2020 lifestyles. Combined with COP26 at the end of last year, and preservation of the planet is becoming a top priority for many.

Clare agrees: “As H2O becomes an increasingly scarce resource around the globe, we expect an uptick in waterless washing and product innovation to facilitate this. Waterless washing reduces water usage while adapting to post-pandemic attitudes around washing frequency.”

While still in its infancy, the selective washing trend has already seen impressive growth from early innovators. Take Californian-based brand Yuni Beauty, who offer a range of waterless body cleaning products including Shower Sheets and Flash Bath No-Rinse Body Cleanser.

“We are based in Southern California where there is a chronic shortage of water and cyclical droughts," founder and CEO Emmanuel Rey tells GLAMOUR UK. “When we started five years ago, we were struck by the amount of water used by the average American. This compounded by the lack of time and difficulty accessing showers in some places (gym, yoga studios, and traveling) made us look for creative solutions to address this needs in a portable way.”

Yuni Beauty's approach is completely led by sustainability from the ingredients they use (plant based and long list of “no no” ingredients), to their stance on animal testing (Leaping Bunny), the packaging (PCR, FSC certified, soy ink, bio resin tubes), to the manufacturing practices (the products are made in factories in California and Texas that are solar or wind-powered).

“These products are part of a new, more minimalist approach to hygiene where people focus on washing only the smelliest parts of their body – pits, bits, holes and soles – to reduce water consumption and damage to their microbiome,” adds Clare.

Other brands blazing the trail include Swair’s Showerless Shampoo, that allows grease and dirt to be towel dried away and claims to save 312 gallons of water per person per year if used twice a week in place of regular shampoo, as well as Hanni’s Shave Pillow that promises a smooth shave and nourished skin without a drop of water.

However, the elephant in the room remains: can these products really act as an alternative to showering? While some of these products contain anti-bacterial and anti-microbial ingredients to provide a comprehensive cleanse, and many forgo stripping ingredients like alcohol to ensure the skin's microbiome is protected (which in itself will help to keep skin healthy and clean), at some point you will have to take a shower. But between the water and the time saved as a result of rethinking your routine, you'll be able to enjoy the experience far, far more.

This article was originally published on Glamour UK.

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