Lloyd Evans

Why have A-listers stopped washing?

Why have A-listers stopped washing?
Jake Gyllenhaal (Getty)
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Something's in the air in Hollywood. It’s the whiff of A-list celebs who’ve given up washing. Jake Gyllenhaal recently revealed that, ‘more and more I find bathing to be less and less necessary.’ Cryptically, he added, ‘we naturally clean ourselves,’ without explaining how he keeps himself smelling of roses while avoiding soap and water.

Hollywood’s new dirty dozen is said to include Brad Pitt and Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher and his wife Mila Kunis have said they ‘seldom’ take the trouble to bathe. Power-couple Dax Shepard and Kirsten Bell offered this stern warning to anyone on the brink of a morning shower. ‘You should not be getting rid of all the natural oil on your skin with a bar of soap every day.’

Top dermatologists agree. The revolt against soap appears to be rooted in ‘the science.’ According to this growing coterie of aromatic A-listers, the human skin is home to populations of bacteria and beneficial micro-organisms that can’t survive a daily scrub in a scalding downpour. And there’s the environmental etiquette to consider. A daily shower deprives others of valuable resources. The water draining out of your plug-hole might be used to irrigate organic farms and to grow next year’s crop of quinoa, blueberries and other superfoods.

And there’s the energy crisis to consider as well. Your piping-hot shower is bound to contribute to the planet’s soaring temperature. If you use a cheap body-wash – the sort shunned by Hollywood – you may be putting your skin at risk from harmful acidic toxins. Your supermarket hand-wash may be blissfully affordable and smell of Norwegian pine-cones or Indian sandal-wood, but have you considered its questionable additives? The downflow pipes from your shower-room carry the second-hand water in one direction only – towards the wide blue ocean. Do you want turtles paddling around in your personal effluent? It’s a horrifying thought. No self-respecting film-star is going to force dolphins to drink his bathwater.

This being Hollywood, of course, the issue of status is never far away. Forget the great unwashed – a pungent body odour is now an indicator of success. Strolling into a big studio smelling like an old pair of socks will send a signal to the junior executives that you’re a major player. Rather than parading a new Rolex, you can show off your scabies rash.

The great soap debate hasn’t yet elicited a response from Harry and Meghan but it’s easy to guess which way their votes would split. Meghan, being a duchess, probably showers once in the morning and again at night before her early bedtime. Harry, by contrast, is a former front-line veteran who can survive for weeks in the bush without so much as a baby-wipe to freshen up with. So here’s the question. Should the Sussexes retain their fresh and fragrant demeanour like Meghan? Or should they join the honourable society of stinkers like Harry? (It’s not hard to guess who will prevail.)

This new trend could transform California. The only way to assess a stranger’s income will be to waft your nostrils in his direction. The sharper the honk, the fatter the salary.

Written byLloyd Evans

Lloyd Evans is The Spectator's sketch-writer and theatre critic

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