Don't Make These Common Bath-Time Mistakes

by Miki Hayes
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There's a lot to love about taking the time to pamper yourself with a good, old-fashioned bath. Except for the fact that there are actually some pretty common bath mistakes that could be ruining your skin. Because even though that hot water and those scented bubbles are oh-so relaxing, soaking in them may not actually be best for your skin. But before you go ditching your favorite way to spend some me-time, there are ways to make sure that your soak isn't negatively impacting your skin. To find out some of the mistakes you might be making and how to fix 'em, I emailed with a couple of experts.

Jordana Mattioli, NYC-based esthetician, and Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, both let me in on some of the more common mistakes many of us make when trying to indulge in a bath, and what to do to make sure your soak isn't secretly harming your skin. After all, bathing should have you feeling smooth and conditioned, not dry and irritated. So your bath leaves you truly pampered inside and out, here are six mistakes to avoid:

1. Using Water That Is Too Hot

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As nice as it can feel to sit in nearly scalding-hot water, that heat isn't good for your skin. Dr. Tanzi explains that when water is too hot, it strips your skin of its natural oils, which could leave you dry, itchy, and irritated. Mattioli adds that a clear tell is if your skin becomes pink or red— this means the water is too hot. So this doesn't happen, she encourages soaking in water that is "about one to two degrees warmer than the normal body temperature, which is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit."

2. Staying In Too Long

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"10 to 20 minutes is plenty of time to get all the benefits of a bath," says Mattioli. She further explains, "Heat dilates the blood vessels and encourages sweating, blood-flow improves, and the body makes better use of its insulin." But staying in longer doesn't necessarily improve on any of these benefits. In fact, staying in water that is too hot for too long will actually dry out your skin. So even though it's relaxing, try to limit your soak.

3. Using Heavily-Fragranced Products

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If you have sensitive skin, both Mattioli and Dr. Tanzi warn against using products in your bath that contain too much fragrance, as it could leave your skin feeling itchy and irritated. When in doubt, Mattioli suggests always checking the ingredients. If fragrance is listed close to the end or not at all under the ingredients, you should be safe.

4. Using Too Many Enhancements

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It can be fun cocktailing your bath with different bubble baths, bath bombs, bath salts, and the like. However, going overboard on the types of enhancements you choose or the amounts that you use could lead to some irritation. To avoid this, Dr. Tanzi recommends using only the suggested amounts of your additives. Also be sure to check the ingredients of each of your enhancements to know whether you may be collectively adding too much of something (like fragrance) that could have a negative impact on your skin.

5. Choosing The Wrong Formulas

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Because sitting in hot water is inherently drying, it is important that whatever you add to your bath has some beneficial ingredients. Mattioli suggests looking for hydrating formulas that contain salts and plant oils.

6. Not Cleaning The Tub Enough

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Just because your tub looks clean, doesn't mean it is. If you enjoy taking regular baths, Mattioli recommends cleaning your tub once per week so as to avoid bacteria buildup and mildew. So cleaning isn't such a chore, she suggests making the process easier by using a cleaning spray right after you shower or bathe and giving your tub a quick rinse.

Because when you know your bath isn't secretly ruining your skin, you can truly relax.

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