Who knew, but your shower routine could actually be affecting your health. Of course, when you're soaping up, you're probably not thinking about possible mistakes you're making in the shower (you're just shampooing and maybe singing, right?). But, you definitely should, as they're surprisingly common and can be bad for you. Though it's hard to break with your regular routine, it may be a good idea to examine certain shower habits, especially if you've noticed dry or irritated skin. According to dermatologists, there are a few prevalent shower mishaps you're likely making, but there are ways to prevent them.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on taking care of their personal hygiene, and that includes how they're spending their time in shower. Whether it's about which products to use or how long to lather up (and where to), there are a few factors that might not be as clear as you think when it comes to protecting your skin, hair, and health. And, dermatologists often hear of complaints that are easily treatable, with a few easy swaps to your regular shower routine. By being more mindful when showering, you can still get clean, and prevent potential mistakes. Here are nine easy-to-fix lifestyle habits your dermatologist is begging you stop doing now.
1. You're Not Showering Right After A Workout
If you let the water run for a bit before hopping in, you're wasting too much time. "Sweat easily becomes trapped inside tight-knit clothing, leading to acne, irritation and other problems," Dermatologist, Dr. Joel Schlessinger, tells Bustle. "Showering after a workout is ideal because the less time bacteria have a chance to sit on your skin, the better. Wash your body with an antibacterial body wash, focusing on any areas where your skin touched the exercise equipment or anywhere you’re prone to breakouts (like the chest and back)." And, if showering isn’t an option, change out of your exercise clothes quickly. If you’re prone to acne and can’t shower right away, stash cleansing wipes in your gym bag to get rid of oil and acne-causing bacteria on the face.
2. Not Showering At Night
"Showering at night can help you sleep better and keeps your sheets cleaner," says Schlessinger. "By washing off all of the dirt, oil and impurities that have gathered on your skin throughout the day, you’ll be able to maximize your beauty sleep." It's also good if you get allergies. "Getting a clean start in the evening is especially beneficial for allergy suffers because it washes away the pollen and other impurities they have come in contact with throughout the day," Schlessinger says.
3. Your Water Is Scorching
As tempting as a hot shower may be, it's a good idea to keep temperatures warm for your skin's sake. "Hot water can be very drying and strip the skin of its natural oils," says Schlessinger. "The heat from the shower softens the skin’s natural oil barrier and soap washes it away. Without this barrier, skin easily loses moisture, leading to dryness, itchiness and irritation." And, if you have sensitive skin, you might want to turn down the heat too. "Hot showers and baths also make sensitive skin symptoms worse," Schlessinger says. "If hot showers are taken on a regular basis, you might start to notice dry patches of skin that feel scaly or start to crack. Always take a lukewarm shower and keep it short (around 10 minutes or less). Instead of rubbing, pat yourself dry and moisturize with a body lotion as soon as you step out of the shower."
4. You Shave First
Save the shaving for a bit later into the shower. "It can be tempting to shave as soon as you get in the shower, but it’s actually better to wait two or three minutes before grabbing your razor," Schlessinger says. "This gives the warm water a chance to soften the hair, making your shaving routine much easier."
5. You Don't Wash Loofahs & Cloths Enough
You may not think to wash loofahs and washcloths, but it's important that you do. "Washcloths and loofahs can harbor bacteria, mold and yeast, among other harmful things," says Schlessinger. "Make sure you allow your loofah to dry completely each time and replace it frequently. If you cleanse with a washcloth, grab a fresh one every day and don’t use it on your face."
6. You Spend Too Long In The Shower
It's always difficult to get out of a warm shower, but make sure your washing time doesn't last too long. "First, water is not the best way to hydrate the skin," David Pollock, a beauty chemist, tells Bustle. "Long showers can actually rinse away natural oils and even lead to drier skin." And that prune-like feeling you get after being in water for too long? "That’s the result of dead skin cells absorbing excess water," Pollock says. Instead, keep your showers to a few minutes.
7. You Use Bar Soap
Ditch the bar and go for a liquid, instead. "Bars of soap have a high pH, again, disrupting natural skin homeostasis," Pollock says. "Additionally, the soap emulsifies or eats away the skin's lipid barrier, leading to drier skin." His solution? Go for liquid bath gels that have a pH closer to the pH of your skin.
8. You Use The Wrong Products
"Most importantly, at a time when are pores are the most open to absorbing water (and chemicals), avoid using soaps and shampoos that contain harmful chemicals, like Sodium Laureth Sulfate or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Parabens, Synthetic Dyes and Synthetic Fragrances," Pollock says. Be sure to read labels to make sure you finding something that's more natural.
9. Not Moisturizing Post-Shower
"If you like to shower every day, chances are your skin dries out a lot from the soap, especially during the colder month," Dr. Alain Michon, Medical Director at the Ottawa Skin Clinic tells Bustle. "It's important to moisturize directly after getting out of the shower in order to prevent dried-out skin. It even has a greater effect if you're still a little damp when you apply it." And if your skin gets really dry? "Use something greasy or oily to prevent evaporation and 'seal in' some hydration shortly after gently toweling off," David Lortscher, founder of Curology. "Look for creams or ointments rather than lotions for the best effect. Plain petrolatum (vaseline) is fine, or use a moisturizer that contains ceramide, a normal component of our skin’s barrier layer."
If you're looking to take your shower routine up a notch and protect your skin, making these small changes to your shower habits will help.