Australians will never understand designer Vivienne Westwood's 'disgusting' beauty secret.

Legendary British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is 76.

At her husband Andreas Kronthaler’s fashion show last weekend, she was asked how she maintained her youthful appearance.

“Don’t wash too much,” was her reply.

“She only takes a bath every week,” Kronthaler added helpfully. “That’s why she looks so radiant. I only wash once a month.”

The response to Westwood’s personal hygiene routine has been mixed. One UK columnist, Sophie Heawood, admitted she was thrilled to hear Westwood was “too posh to wash”, because she doesn’t believe in daily showers either.

“The feeling of last night’s sweat coating your body is quite a comforting one,” she explained.

On UK parenting site Mumsnet, some mothers were in Westwood’s camp.

“Ours (five and three) have a bath once or twice a week and just wash hands and face on the other days,” one wrote. “I really don’t have time to bath them every night and defo agree about wasting water!”

Others were disgusted at the idea. A mother of a seven-year-old boy said her son showered every night and washed his hair while he was in there.

“I just don’t really understand why people don’t get their kids into the habit of washing properly every day,” she added.

Here in Australia, research shows that 90 per cent of women and 80 per cent of men shower or bathe daily. In fact, 29 per cent of Australians supposedly have two showers a day, while nine per cent have three showers.

So do we need to have a shower or bath every day?

Dermatologist Stephen Shumack says we don’t. He points out that it’s only been in the last 50 or 60 years that daily showers or baths have become the norm in countries like Australia. Before that, it was more likely to be weekly.


“In the UK, right up until relatively recently, Saturday was the day for a bath,” he points out.

Associate Professor Shumack says most people can tolerate daily showers. But for 20 to 30 per cent of the population, showering that often is damaging to the skin, particularly if hot water and soap (or soap substitutes) are used.

“If we abolished daily showers and daily baths, we dermatologists would be a lot poorer,” he explains, “because most of our eczema patients would disappear, and a fair number or our patients with psoriasis and acne and those sort of things would improve as well.

“People come in and they’ve got terrible eczema and you ask them and they have two 15-minute showers per day. And you think, ‘Oh my God, if they’d save some money and have a one-minute cool shower every second day, we’d clear their skin dramatically.’”

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Associate Professor Shumack says there’s a “ridiculous peer pressure” on parents to give their children a bath every day. But unless the kids are out there rolling around in the mud, it’s really not necessary.

“Particularly with small babies, less is better,” he adds.

But back to Vivienne Westwood. Is her theory true? Can bathing less really be the secret to looking young and radiant?

Associate Professor Shumack says there could be “some sort of slight theory” behind the fashion designer’s comments.

“If you don’t want to use moisturisers all the time, just miss the odd shower,” he suggests. “Your natural oils will be on the skin and will work as a natural moisturising agent, which may make your skin look a little bit better.”

Well, there you go.