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The history of the shower

Napolean once wrote to Josephine; “I’ll be home in a week -don’t bathe till I get there.” The need to be clean hasn’t always been as important as it is today. In fact, western civilisations are one of the few nations of the world where a daily shower is considered a daily must. Most Americans shower rather than bath, as opposed to most Europeans, who mostly bath rather than shower due to a long history of communal washing.

The desire to speed up the cleaning process isn’t a recent thing. Our ancestors started the showering craze by bathing in waterfalls. The idea was that the falling water helped rub the bather clean. Land lovers brought the idea ashore: they would soap up and then dump a bucket of (no doubt freezing) water over themselves to rinse the suds away. This process worked fine – but was rather no-frills.

That isn’t to say there weren’t some mighty fancy showers right from the start. One of the earliest and most elaborate is the English Regency Shower, developed around 1810. However, even among the English upper class the shower was thought to be unusual. Made of metal painted to look like bamboo, the shower consisted of a basin with a drain on the bottom and a hidden tank at the top, joined by poles about 10 feet long. A pump arrangement on the lower basin forced water up to the top basin through one hollow pole and then down over the bather’s head. The only drawback was that the same water was reused time and time again. Yummy.

The regency even had a rudimentary shower curtain and the bather probably wore a tall pointed hat made from an oiled material – a makeshift shower cap. Both men and women used the shower cap as it was an era where men were as fussy as ladies about their appearance. After showering, men would perfume themselves and choose their clothes for the day.

Plumbers joined the game in the early 1800s. As plumbing moved indoors and became more common among the privileged homeowners, alternatives to the bath emerged.

Lead working wasn’t apparent in showers until in the 1850s, and it wasn’t until the late 1880s and 1890s that showers became similar to what they are today.

Bathing facts
– In ancient times Monks and nuns did not bathe, as it was considered sensual and therefore sinful
– Typically less than 1% of all water treated for drinking is actually consumed by people. 99% of all water treated for drinking is used for things like showers, lawn sprinkling, to flush toilets, etc.
– On base in Antarctica, you are only allowed to take two, two-minute showers a week.
– Shower in German is ‘douche’

This month nzgirl is giving away two fantastic shower packs, each containing a bottle of the two newest shower products from Johnson’s pH 5.5! Johnson’s pH 5.5TM
Shower Gel comes in two types: Soothing and Refreshing, both available in 250ml bottles at your supermarket. The bottles have a flip top lid, which enables easy use in the shower. The body wash itself is clinically tested, one hundred percent soap free and has a very light fragrance. Enter the competition here

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