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Girl Smarts Do you really need to wash your legs?

Victory for Team No Leg Washing! And if you're still thinking of lathering up despite that, you may want to reconsider.

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should you wash your legs play

should you wash your legs

(Photograph by Getty Images)

Life is full of big questions: Were Rachel and Ross on a break? Is Beyoncé's son actually named Sir Carter Carter? Is the soap trickling down your legs during your shower enough to clean them?

When the latter was first posed in a Women's Health pitch meeting (triggered by memories of a 2016 episode of "You're The Worst"), we instantly became a staff divided: Team Leg Washing vs. Team No Leg Washing. Naturally, we decided it was worth investigating.

"Unless your legs are visibly soiled, you don't actually need to wash them directly with a cleanser," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D. and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "The cleanser that drips down your body is enough to remove most of the dirt and sweat that accumulates during the day."

Victory for Team No Leg Washing! And if you're still thinking of lathering up despite that, you may want to reconsider.

"Over-washing or over-scrubbing the legs, just like with any other part of the body, can strip the skin of essential oils and lead to skin-barrier disruption and inflammation," he says. So if you still feel the need to wash your legs, do so gently.

An exception to the "let the suds flow" rule would be when you're shaving. In that case, it's a good idea to lather up as water and soap or shaving cream can help hydrate and soften the skin and hair on the legs, says Zeichner. This not only creates a safe barrier between your skin and the razor, but it also allows for a smoother shave.

One last note: Don't think this same logic applies to your feet—they need much more than a little trickle. "Unlike the legs, the bottom of the feet takes a much larger beating from daily life," says Zeichner. "The skin is much thicker, trapping dirt."

Even if you're wearing socks and protected from the elements, the skin between your toes can trap sweat and create a moist environment for fungus to grow, he says. That can lead to superficial infections like athlete's foot. So if you're exercising frequently or just have sweaty feet, it's a good idea to give them a wash.

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