Common Showering Mistakes That Harm Your Skin
Showering wrong might be one of the worst things you are doing to your skin. Yes, you’ve heard me right – your shower could be hurting you! It is time for you to learn and avoid making these awful shower mistakes.
I came to the realization that a lot of people don’t seem to know what they are doing after seeing how quickly my roommates were going through their body wash and shampoos. They were repurchasing cheap shampoo month after month. On top of that, our water bill was oddly high, and it seemed as though the bathroom was always occupied.
Were any of them cleaner than me? Maybe… but I don’t think so. And I know for sure that my skin and hair were in healthier shape. A quick survey of people’s cleaning habits showed a lot of habits that were at best unhelpful, and at worst seriously destructive to both skin and hair. So today I’ll dispel all of the shower myths, and get you showering right.
Shower Habits You Need to Break
1. Keep that temperature low! While hot baths might be temptingly relaxing, they also wreak havoc on the skin, and are one of the worst shower mistakes people make. That tight feeling your skin gets after a hot shower? That’s all of the moisture promptly exiting your pores, leaving your skin feeling dry and looking dull.
Opt for lukewarm showers instead. You can still have the occasional hot bath as a muscle-soothing luxury, but moisturizing immediately after is critical.
2. The second part of this equation is the length of your shower. Being in the shower for a very long time is a) super wasteful and b) not really useful for the skin. While hot water is the real danger, spending a lot of time under water can still damage your skin.
3. You might also want to go easy on that shampoo and body wash – especially if they are cheap. Most shampoos and body washes have an ingredient in them called sodium lauryl sulfate (or its slightly more friendly sibling, sodium laureth sulfate).
Sulfates are really harsh cleansing agents that totally strip the skin of oils and moisture, and also have the potential to seriously irritate. If you become a veritable foam monster while showering, you are definitely using too much.
Just a little bit of lather (think, a dime size amount of shampoo, and a quarter size of body wash) should be enough to get you clean and fresh from head to toe, without the risk of leaving behind an irritating residue.
4. You might also be leaving those cleansing agents on your skin or hair for too long. A few seconds is all it takes for your cleanser or shampoo to break down dirt and sweat. Leave them on for more than a minute, and you are much likelier to end up with dry or irritated skin.
5. You might also be using a bacteria-laden loofah or sponge. If you do enjoy exfoliating with something in the shower, it is much more hygienic to use a body scrub (you can even DIY it!), or using a cloth that can be thrown in the laundry for a washing after every use.
6. Are you a super clean person? Do you feel like you have to shower every day? Well, banish the thought. Showering every day is not necessary, unless you hit the gym hard on a regular basis. If you really need a shower in the morning to wake you up, keep it short, keep it cool, and skin the soap. Your skin will thank you!
7. The same is true for your hair! The less you wash it, the healthier it will be. My hair gets really greasy, so I thought I had to wash it every day. After I slowed down, and switched to only washing it two or three times a week, it actually stopped looking so greasy all the time! Those with dry or curly hair might actually find they only have to wash it once a week.
8. So you’ve finished your shower, and you are ready to scrub away every last bit of moisture, so you can get nice and dry… Or maybe not. Instead of rubbing the towel, gently press it against your skin. The rubbing motion irritates the skin, and removes too much water, which you don’t want to do because…
9. You should be moisturizing your skin while it is still damp! After a shower, your skin is super saturated with water, but only for a couple of minutes and then it all evaporates.
You want to prevent the evaporation by moisturizing as soon as possible after getting out of the shower (unless you moisturizer in the shower). Your skin will absorb more of that moisturizer and be overall healthier and more hydrated if it is still damp.
A Few Tips to Upgrade Your Shower
So now that you know what not to do, here are a few other things you can do to seriously improve your shower experience!
• In shower moisturizing with an oil or oil-based scrub is the speediest way to seriously lock in all of the moisture your skin absorbed during the shower. After cleansing your skin (with a tiny amount of body cleanser!), rub in your choice of oil (my favorite for the body is coconut oil, although if your skin is acne prone you might prefer grape seed oil).
• To turn this into a two-in-one moisturization and exfoliation step, add an exfoliating grain, like salt, sugar, or used coffee grounds to your oil before rubbing it in.
• While a moisturizer should mitigate the drying effect of the sulfates, you are still better off using sulfate-free products instead. A couple great options are the Amazon Beauty Rahua Shampoo from Nordstrom ($34.00), and the Hempz Age Defying Renewing Herbal Body Wash from Ulta ($19.00).
• A conditioner is a nice way to moisturize the hair, but for even better softness and shine try my favorite pre-shower hair mask: a nice slathering of organic coconut oil, which penetrates through the hair shaft and adds a lot of strength and nutrients.
• Your shower is also a great time to get masking out of the way. Those 5 minutes in the shower are the best time to use a mask laden with humectants, like Farmacy’s Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask with Echinacea GreenEnvy™ ($56.00 at Sephora). Honey and glycerin based masks will pull the steam surrounding your, and will make your masking experience doubly effective.
• To avoid tangles and drain-clogging clumps of hair, brush your hair before you get into the shower.
Have you made any of these shower mistakes? Do you have a few of your own shower and bath time tips to share? Comment and let us know!
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