There’s no better way to start the day than a head-clearing, muscle-soothing shower.
But that feels-good shower may not be so good for your skin. According to skin and hair care experts, too much hot water can be bad for the human body.
Here’s what dermatologists had to say about the best practices to adopt in the shower.
Don’t Shower Too Much
Shower regularity should be based on your activity level. Apart from that, there’s no black-and-white rule on the number of showers you should take.
Inactive people can get away with cutting out a few showers per week – just don’t cut back so much that you start to stink, or put yourself at risk of skin infections.
If you’re active and start the morning with a shower, and shower again later at the gym, the second one should be short.
“On occasion, there may be a reason to shower twice a day,” says Dr. Jessica Krant, a board-certified dermatologist with the American Academy of Dermatology, “but those should be extremely short showers.”
Keep It Short
Exposure to water over long stretches can create dry skin and hair. Longer showers “gives the water a chance to allow any cleansers to be more damaging,” Krant adds.
Dr. Lauren Ploch, a board-certified dermatologist with the American Academy of Dermatology, agrees in saying the shorter the shower, the better.
“For patients with atopic dermatitis and/or very dry skin, I recommend keeping showers to five minutes or less,” Ploch says. “Keep showers active. Don’t stand under water for minutes at a time.”
Hot water removes the natural oils from you skin, thereby damaging it more easily – therefore, stick to lukewarm, or even cool, water in the shower.
“Some people advocate extremely cold water for invigorating the circulation,” Krant says. “Other than avoiding extremely hot temperatures, I say use whatever temperature feels best.”
Don’t Wash Your Hair So Much
Considering hair is made up of nothing more than dead skin cells, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it doesn’t need as much washing as our skin.
So how often you wash it will depend on your type of hair. Washing too often can lead to supreme dryness, which is a more prevalent problem for anyone with gray hair or colored hair, which tend to be drier.
But Don’t Wash Too Little, Either
…and having said that, there’s such a thing as washing too little as well. With the fear of over washing, people are overdoing their stance of washing less, causing scalp buildups of dandruff.
“People often neglect scalp washing so that they don’t dry out the hair. This can lead to a buildup of scalp oils that lead to flaking and redness,” Ploch says.
Be sure to wash your scalp weekly!
Some experts say traditional soap encourages the removal of natural oil from the skin.
Dr. Doris Day, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, recommends products labeled as “cleanser,” as your go-to body wash.
“Cleansers can add the moisture back into your skin,” she says.
But if dry or irritated skin has never been an issue, traditional soap is fine. “I say to each her own,” Krant says.
If you’ve shaved before, you know it’s infinitely easier to shave when the hair is soft.
“Shaving should happen at the end of a short shower so the hairs are damp but not too swollen from too much heat and steam, which causes hair swelling that later leads to ingrowns when the shaved hairs dry and shrink below the skin surface,” Krant says.
Pat Yourself Dry
Rather than rubbing your towel all over, pat yourself down instead. Rubbing causes irritation and itchiness; patting can leave some water behind on the skin, which can be sealed with moisturizer after each shower.
But remember to always dry certain areas: “Especially remember areas of skin folds, between toes, in the groin area, and under arms, to reduce future rash and infection risk,” Krant says.
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