Showering is second nature for most of us. Whether you drag yourself out of bed in the morning to wake up your senses, or use it to decompress after a long day, most of us shower daily or almost daily to rid our bodies of built up sweat, dirt, and oil. But are some of your shower habits doing more harm than good for your skin?
Keep reading to learn more about the best and worst shower habits that can play a part in determining the outcome for your sensitive skin.
A hot shower can be the destressor you need after a long day, but it’s important to make sure it’s not too hot. If your shower gets to the point where you start to see steam, turn it down a notch. Showering in water that’s too hot can dry out your skin and cause itchiness, rashes, and eczema flare-ups.
Showering Too Long
You’ve probably heard you should take shorter showers in order to conserve water, but showering for too long also factors into the skin drying effects of showering. It’s tempting to linger in the warm shower water after you’ve finished washing up, but keep it brief for the sake of the environment and your skin.
Washing Your Face in the Shower
We know it’s easier to wash your face in the shower — you don’t have to worry about splashing water over your clothes, hair, and floor, and it just makes sense to clean your body and face at the same time. But it’s time you start cleansing in front of your sink before you hop in the shower.
Once again let’s circle back to water temperature. We often shower in water that’s a lot hotter than water we would use to wash our face in the sink, and since our face skin is often more sensitive than that on our body, it can be even more irritating. Even if you turn down your shower temperature, it’s best to wash your face in cold water, so unless you want to take cold showers everyday, avoid wetting your face with hot shower water, and wash your face before or after you hop in the shower.
Using a Gentle Soap
On top of the shower itself, the products you choose to fill your shower caddy are crucial. If you’re taking the time to carefully curate your skin care routine, then you should be doing the same for your body care. Neglecting your body care may not seem like a big deal, but when your legs start to get itchy and bumpy, and the body acne starts to set in, then you might just regret not taking the time to research what’s best for your skin.
When it’s time to cleanse your body, use a gentle soap or body wash free of SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), dyes, and fragrance, as they can be drying and irritating. Try soaps with ingredients like glycerin, shea butter, and oats which are all known to improve moisture and soothe irritation.
Using a Loofah
Apply your body wash with a clean, I repeat, clean, washcloth or your hands, and stay far away from loofahs and shower puffs. Loofahs sit in your steamy, humid shower and collect bacteria, dead skin, oil, and, worst of all, mold. Not only is scrubbing bacteria on your skin gag-worthy and counterproductive to what you’re trying to accomplish in the shower, but it can also cause infection if rubbed along an open wound.
Fancy shower tools aren’t necessary. We have hands for a reason and if they are washed properly before cleansing, they are the most sanitary option for washing your body and face.
Scrubbing Your Skin too Much
Sweat is 99% water and will easily rinse off the body, so there’s no need to scrub your entire body profusely. It will just further strip the skin of hydration and cause irritation. When cleansing your body, take extra care in washing the deodorant off your underarms and in any particularly sweaty areas after physical activity, but other than that a light slathering of body wash will do the trick.
Using a Dull or Dingy Razor
Constantly replacing your razor head can get expensive, so let’s be honest, we’ve all let them get a little rusted and dingy before finally retiring it for a fresh, sharp blade. But since we’re cleaning up our shower habits, it’s time to stop.
Dull razor blades not only fail to provide a close, clean shave, but they also are more prone to nicking the skin. Also, like with loofahs, old razors can collect bacteria and dead skin , and if that gets in a nick, an infection may be coming your way.
Replace your razor blade after about 5-10 shaves, or when you start to notice any type of build up that you can’t rinse out easily with hot water. If you want to make the most of your razor, don’t leave it in the shower after you’re done. Set it in a cool dry place for it to dry out completely, and reduce the amount of bacterial growth.
In an ideal world, air drying would be the best for your skin, but that’s just not practical, unless you’re ok with dripping water all over your floor and furniture. In that case, go for it! However, most of us will opt for the more modest towel dry approach.
When toweling off, don’t rub your towel over the skin. This can irritate your skin, so instead gently pat the towel on your skin to dry off.
Moisturizing Right After You Shower
Don’t dry yourself off completely though. You want to apply moisturizer while your skin is still slightly wet. Damp, warm skin absorbs moisture better than dry skin, and your body lotion or cream can trap the water that is lingering on your skin post-shower.
Also a layer of a fragrance and alcohol free body lotion with shea butter will help protect your skin from razor bumps, itchiness, and dryness after you shave.
Showering After the Gym
If you take up a new workout routine, and suddenly develop backne on the section of your back where the racerback of your sports bra lies, then it’s not a coincidence. Leaving on tight, suffocating, dirty gym clothes after a workout traps in sweat and doesn’t let the skin breathe, so dirt, sweat, and oil accumulate.
After a long, hard workout, you probably just want to sit on the couch and rest your aching muscles, but if you aren’t quick to strip off your dirty gym clothes and hop in the shower, all of that sweat you worked hard for is going to build up and clog your pores which means acne.
Shower right after your workout and change into fresh clothes, and you’ll avoid pesky body acne. Remember: if you choose to shower in your gym’s locker room, make sure to bring a pair of sandals or shower shoes to avoid athlete’s foot or other skin infections.
For most of us, our shower routine is like clockwork, but some of those long term habits could be damaging your skin. Once you start working in some of these habits, your skin will start to show the signs.