Comic: Why Doesn’t Aunt Grace Take Showers?

comic comics cartoon bathing in japan washing hair every day

So this happened last time I was visiting Ryosuke’s parents. His brother has three kids – and I’m one of the first non-Asian foreigners they’ve ever met. The middle son (age 4) is convinced I don’t take showers (and therefore “Americans are gross”) because I don’t wash my hair every night.

I’ve explained it to Ryosuke and he’s (tried to) explain it to his family – it’s bad to wash “white people” hair every day! I’m not sure about other types of hair, but mine starts to break/look ragged if I wash it every night…

Oh well.

In case you can’t tell, this comic was also inspired by the “doing laundry every day is stupid” and the “I can wear it one more time!” comics.

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Like these comics? Check out my comic books (on Amazon):

My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy: The Comic Book

and

My Japanese Husband (still) Thinks I’m Crazy

and

Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

44 Comments on Comic: Why Doesn’t Aunt Grace Take Showers?

  1. I can relate to this comic, too. :)

    My hair is naturally really dry and, if I wash it too often, I damage it a lot and my scalp starts itching because it gets too dry.
    I have very unruly, frizzy, curly, wild and very long hair (almost butt long) so if I have to wash it AND dry it every day (specially if I have to straighten it) I’d have to spend more than two hours every day just in my hair, not to mention I’d be spending a lot of money on shampoo and other hair products. And leaving my hair to dry naturally is not an option since it takes a whole day to dry fully (I have a lot of hair and very thick at that, I’d get sick if I leave my hair wet for that long).

    That’s why, following my hairdresser’s instructions, I wash my hair once a week at most, and when I wash it it’s never dirty or oily. A lot of people find this weird but my mom is the same, I guess it runs in the family.

    I really hope that what I’m writting is easy to understand, I have a really hard time finding words to speak in english, I need to study harder I guess.

  2. I read somewhere that showering every day is actually quite unhealthy. You keep removing the protective layers that your body automatically creates and by doing that every day, your body thinks it needs to overproduce to compensate. Also, your clothes already absorb whatever your body needs to get rid of, so wearing clean clothes every day is actually more important than showering every day.

  3. In fact, I think that is depends on the hair you have, poeple that have very dry hair should not wash them too often, or they will be damaged and more and more dry.
    Sometimes poeple who wash their hair every day believed that they have to continue like that because thay have greasy hair very fastly, but that is due to excessive washing: they destroyed the natural regulation system of hydratation of their hair by cleaning them too much. Because cleaning hair make them a little more dry, so when you do that too often your hair have to compensate that by producing more hydratation (too much hydratation) and so they become greasy very fast and you have to wash them every day, that’s a vicious circle.
    Personally my hair are like mediterranean hair, I wash them every 4 or 5 days in the evening add on a moisturising treatment and i NEVER use hairdryer or straightener (that is so bad for them), i let them dry naturally during the night, everyone ask me how i can have beautiful hair with no hair forks ;)

  4. I have to wash my hair every night because otherwise it gets gross and oily and will stringy and stick out funny.

  5. On the more general subject of bathing and showers, many years ago I went to a dermatologist (skin doctor) with some areas of dry itchy skin, especially around my hips (belt line), and the first question he asked me was “How often do you shower?”. I said “Every day, of course”. The doctor said “Stop it. You are drying out your skin. Every three or four days is enough. Americans bathe too much, and it is harming their health. Now, what kind of soap do you use?” I told him I was using the “Dial” brand, which had recently been introduced to the market as the best soap because it got your skin “squeaky clean” (this was a long time ago, remember). He said “Stop it. The detergents in those soaps remove the natural oils and moisturizers from your skin, leaving it not only dry and scaly but also more susceptible to invasion by adverse organisms and to adverse reactions like contact dermatitis. Plain castile soaps are better.” (“Castile” means its main ingredient is olive oil, originally from the Castile region of Spain, but other vegetable oils are OK, too.) For soaps made with good stuff and without bad stuff added in, look at brands like Tom’s of Maine, Kiss My Face, Kirk’s Castile, among some others you can find online.

    Maybe there are skin differences other than color among the human races, so the Japanese might be able to get away with things that we whites can’t (and vice-versa), but very few studies have been conducted (hardly any since the turn of the century) and most of those have closing statements that read like this (from one in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003): “Although some deductions have been made about Asian and Hispanic skin, further evaluation needs to be done. Differences in water content, corneocyte desquamation (in other words: shedding), elastic recovery/extensibility, lipid content and skin microflora, although statistically significant, are inconclusive.”

    Probably the same non-conclusions would apply to hair. Clearly “one size”, or one rule, does NOT fit every person, but possibly the kids aren’t yet ready to grasp that idea. Maybe it helps everyone to know that we each get a whole new skin about every two weeks or so anyway. That’s right – – the cells that are on the surface of your skin today started their existence in the lowest levels of your skin about two weeks ago and slowly migrated toward the surface where they replace the oldest ones that become brittle and break off (shed) in a constant cycle. So if you didn’t wash it yesterday don’t worry about it; it’s going to fall off anyway. (Insert smiley face here.)

    • Makes sense. Thanks for sharing.
      My skin gets seriously stretchy/dry in the winter, so I actually have to be careful not to scrub too hard (aside from once a week), otherwise it’s dry and stretched out. I don’t like it.
      I didn’t know about the “new coat of skin every two weeks” thing, though. Hmmmmm. I learn something new every day from this blog.

  6. Whoa. He’d think I’m absolutely disgusting then. xD
    I only wash my hair once a week, sometimes once every two weeks.
    But then again, I’m a Black/White mix. So if I wash my hair too often it gets really dry and frizzy, (It’s also a lot of work to wash it too, especially since I like to have my hair straight, so I have to re-straighten it after every wash.)

    • Wow. Sounds like a lot of work.
      No, I think it’s pretty normal to wash your hair as often as YOU want to wash it/feel the need. In the winter, I usually wash my hair twice a week (sometimes three times), because it gets so dry and just… yeah. Everyone has their own system :)

  7. My experience is exactly the opposite: I wash my “white people” hair every day and my Japanese mother-in-law tells me how bad it is for my hair to be washed that often. She only washes her’s every couple of days.. and mind you, she is a “doing laundry every day” kind of typical Japanese! So I guess people’s habits and opinions about what’s good for you can differ – even in Japan ;-)

  8. Basically washing hairs is a matter on how the body/adapt to it over years. Most chinese I know wash their hairs also only two to three times a week because otherwise their hairs are getting bad. I on the other hand need to wash them everyday because they get oily after two days which is due to all the years I spend swimming five to six hours a day, six days a week for over 12 years..now my hairs are just messed up and I need to wash them all the time :)

  9. Hah, I’m disgusting to him then. :P

    A few years ago I stopped blow drying my hair (very fine wavy/curly white person hair) because I stopped caring about having it straight and as a side-effect it’s much healthier, softer, and not as poofy! I only wash it twice a week.

    I stopped using face wash about a year ago and only use lukewarm water once or twice a day, my face is exactly the same.

    The “worst” part to your nephew probably would be that both my husband and I recently stopped using body soap. No joke, my skin is BETTER without the soap, and this is summer! It’s not dry anymore and I’m using way less lotion than before.

    I do feel like a hippie, but I’m not going to complain about the positive side effects on my body or my wallet. :)

    • I wash my face twice a week too (and lay off the super-intense body soap full scrub- except once a week – in the winter). I hate that “stretch out” feeling my skin gets after a heavy wash.

      And, you know, I know tons of hippies who have fantastic hair. So they’ve got to be doing SOMETHING right.

  10. My goodness, THANK YOU. My husband and I will be married nine years next week, and it took reading your blog for his to realize that I’m not gross or weird. Regardless that I’ve been telling him the exact same thing for a decade…. apparently hearing it from you and all the commenters was a shocking revelation. He actually came into the other room to tell me “I didn’t know that was real. I thought you were just weird….”

    I will agree with another commenter that stated it’s all about societal norms. When my parents were young, they only washed once a week because that’s what poor people did in East Texas. As they grew older, they kept the same habits and passed those on to me. Only when I went to middle school did I realize that everyone else had different bathing habits than I did. I started showering religiously twice a day, regardless of the fact that my hair and skin were previously lovely and now had become dry and brittle. That was what society expected you to do, so I did. It took a while to get that psychosis dismissed, and it still rears it’s ugly head if it’s been a day or so “too long.” It’s nice to know that I’m not the only “dirty Texan” though. :-)

    • Oh my goodness. I totally cracked up reading your comment. Like, seriously. I even read it out loud to my husband (and he was like “SEE! I’m not the only Japanese person who has a problem with this!”).
      I feel flattered that my blog actually made a difference/won the argument.

      And seriously. This comment made my night. I can’t stop giggling.

  11. oh my gosh, i definitely had a very tense conversation with my boyfriend about not wanting to shower at night. whats the deal!?!
    i can wash my hair almost every day, but if i wash it at night i wake up like medusa. if i shower at night i gotta wash my hair again in the morning. he just doesnt get it lol. luckily, he’s learned to just let it go. ^^

  12. Anonymouse // 28 August, 2014 at 11:47 am //

    I think most people wash every day not because they actually need to, but because that’s what society thinks is “normal”. As can be seen from other comments, the amount that a person needs to wash their hair to maintain the kind of consistency that they prefer depends on the individual.

    I used to wash my hair every day without any problems, but I spent most of my 20s dying my hair non-standard colors (shades of green, mostly) and I learned pretty quickly that daily shampooing causes the color to fade more quickly. I got in the habit of washing about twice a week and my hair is no different than it was when I washed it every day (and, yes, it did help the color last a bit longer).

    Maybe Ryosuke can help explain to your nephew that things aren’t “gross” just because they are different than what he’s used to, and calling a person/group “gross” because they do things differently is A Bad Thing?

    • But, you know, sometimes in Japan doing things differently is the default “A Bad Thing.” It really does depend on the person (for hair washing). Thanks!

      • Anonymouse // 29 August, 2014 at 8:18 pm //

        I just wanted to note that it’s not just in Japan that sometimes doing things differently is the default “A Bad Thing”. When I lived in the US I would get a lot of people saying nasty things about my hair choices, my piercings, my beliefs… basically anything that was outside of what they deemed “normal”. The KINDS of things that people say to me have changed since coming to Japan (different culture, different norms), but it’s pretty standard practice all over the world to judge people harshly/negatively for not conforming to societal expectations.

        I guess all I was trying to say is that teaching a kid to be less judgmental about things they don’t understand could actually be a good life lesson, or at the very least may make it less likely for him to say things that hurt others. But I guess it’s an area where YMMV.

        • Oh yeah, that is absolutely true. I forget about that sometimes, because I’ve mostly only lived in relatively young, liberal, diverse pockets in America – but America still has a lot of discrimination against people who are considered “different” or “outside” the norm.
          Since I’m a young, white, fairly-normal looking girl, I am basically never on the receiving end of it, though. I can’t even imagine what it is like for some of my non-white or non-“normal/average looking/boring” friends.

  13. Anonymous // 28 August, 2014 at 10:36 am //

    Maybe I’m an exception, but as a white person, I have to wash my hair every day. And in summer, I wash it twice a day. My body produces so much oil that my hair is just a hideously oily mess if I don’t.

  14. Anonymous // 28 August, 2014 at 10:20 am //

    Thanks for making me smile, Grace.
    I have “white people” hair, too. It is frizzy as heck and breaks easily. If I washed it every day it would be a hideous mess. I wash it twice a week.
    Another cultural issue that has come up is that for the reasons above, I cannot use a blow dryer (I make an exception when I go to the hair salon every three months or so). It freaks out my husband’s family (and most other Japanese people I’ve talked to) that I let it air-dry and will go to bed with it wet. My mother-in-law was insistent that I would not only catch a cold but I’d get the pillow moldy, so she made me sleep on a bath towel!

    • Oh my goodness, my mother in law makes me sleep on a bath towel too!
      I don’t like blow dryers (like at all – they make my hair frizzy and take too much time!)… and it kind of freaks them out. They always offer a blow dryer when I visit~

  15. I’m with Dara on this one! I wash mine every few days or so. For three years I made my life easier and went bald (I’ma woman who can get away with rocking a dome) and when I stopped a year ago, I decided to go completely natural. Now I look like a throwback to the 1970’s. Currently its adding 4 inches to my height (I need em!).

  16. Anonymous // 28 August, 2014 at 12:31 am //

    I’m with Dara. I’m a white-girl with very curly hair. Each strand is fine, but there are lots of them and my hair/skin is SOOOO dry! They’d really think I’m gross, I only shower 2x/week or my skin would be a mess. I quit using shampoo ~8 years ago. You can clean your scalp with some really good conditioners. My skin & hair look really good. Unless I get sweaty or dirty, there’s no reason to shower more than 2x per week.

    • I was actually talking to a friend yesterday who uses a baking soda homemade mix for shampoo that is MUCH better for your hair. I think my scalp is too oily to completely do away with the shampoo (I have pretty thick hair), but I’m going to try cutting down the amount of shampoo I use, at least.

  17. charming little boy… but I understand you – even using best Asian hair products (according to all the Asian girls I know) my hair would be even more damaged not to mention they would be greasy on the top, like I didn’t wash them for a month or something O.o

    • He’s a charmer. And when he’s not terrorizing his sisters, he can be kind of cute :)
      I don’t use too many Japanese hair products, mostly because I’m cheap and refuse to spend the money on them. Oops.

  18. HAH! If they think white Americans are “bad” about washing their hair, let them never live with a black American! :D Washing hair can range from 2-3 times a week to 2-3 times a month (I do mine twice a week.) Our strands are really fine, and HATE overprocessing and heat. So most of us can’t do the whole “wash, blowdry, and flat iron” thing if we want to keep our own hair on our head XD

    • Hahahaha. I actually HAVE explained that to Ryosuke a couple times. He found pictures of me when I was a teenager (when we lived in Ghana), and I had my hair braided. I had to explain the whole extensions/washing cycles/hair care for Africans (I’m not sure if it’s the same in the States) – and he was shocked that people actually washed their hair LESS than I do.
      He’s a keeper, alright.
      I think African hair is some of the finest hair, right? So it’s really difficult to process without damaging?

  19. Lolz I’m asian of course but I don’t wash my hair every single days too, I do it only twice or trice per week, well, as you said, it damage hair. Ah! I bought your comic book, hope it’ll be out soon ^_^

    • Awwww, thank you so much! :)
      Yeah, I guess it really does depend on the person/hair/type of shampoo. I say washing it every other day (or so) saves water, so we’re (sort of) saving the environment! Or something like that…

  20. That’s too funny! Little kids can be so precocious at times. My sister is in the same situation as you, Grace. Her hair is long and incredibly thick, but as she’s tried explaining to me multiple times, the essential oils tend to diminish and the volume decreases with over-washing. That’s a process I doubt a four year-old will understand, so you’ll have to deal with being the unclean American girl to Ryo’s nephew for a little while longer. :p

    • Yeah… Ryosuke just tells them it’s an “American thing.” So now, rather than thinking Aunt Grace is gross, they just think Americans are gross.
      Oh well. Choose your battles. And they’re such cute kids anyways, so I don’t mind :)

  21. My sister rinses her hair daily, but only give it a serious wash with shampoo like once every 3 or 4 days. Apparently most of the girls with long hair does this in Malaysia. I think they have similar concerns as you.

  22. My sister used to make fun of me for having “Asian hair” because it’s really thick (individual strands and the amount). I have to wash mine daily or it just gets too oily. And I’m a total white girl (UK and German heritage)!!

    But I don’t think you’re gross!

    • I guess it really depends on the person (and the hair), right? I have friends who are Asian who really do get oily/dandruff hair if they don’t wash every day… that’s just never really been a problem for me. Maybe I just use really strong shampoo?

      Thanks for not thinking I’m gross :)

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