FYI: You're Showering All Wrong
And other things you should probably reconsider.
Wrong No. 1: You Clean Your Entire Body
Believe it or not, you don't need to give every spot on your body the squeaky-clean treatment. "Do not wash all over, vigorously, every day," says Dr. Kally Papantoniou, a dermatologist for Advanced Dermatology PC in New York City. "By washing and lathering all over, including areas that aren't necessarily 'unclean' [e.g., your pubic area], you are drying skin that cannot be hydrated by moisturizing alone."
Wrong No. 2: You Wash All of Your Hair Every Day
Clean hair isn't really about how often you wash, but about whether you're washing correctly. "I always tell patients to make sure they lather the shampoo in their hands before they put it onto their head," says Dr. Anjali Butani, celebrity dermatologist and founder of Anjali MD Skin Care. "Then work your fingers deep into the scalp, because it's not really about cleaning the hair as much as it is about cleaning the oils and dirt off of the scalp." Focus on the roots, people!
Wrong No. 3: You Refuse to Take Cold Showers
We get it—cold showers are unpleasant, especially in fall and winter. However, Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, dermatologist and founder of Epionce Skin Care, says that cool water is quite beneficial. "A cold shower is good for the skin because it helps improve firmness and closes pores, which reduces the ingress of pollution into the skin," he says. "I recommend taking a warm shower, then finish off with a cold blast of water for the last few minutes."
Wrong No. 4: You Loiter
It's easy to slip into daydreams during a shower, but make sure you're limiting the amount of time you're in there. "Five minutes should be enough time to accomplish what you need to do in the shower," says Dr. Papantoniou. "The longer you stay in the shower, the more dried out your skin can become." She also recommends only bathing once a day. That is, don't shower after your workout in the morning, and then again at night because you feel like you need to de-stress.
Wrong No. 5: You Use a Loofah
This isn't the first time we've heard a couple of derms speak out against the use of sponges and loofahs, but here's another reminder. "Avoid harsh tools like any brushes or loofahs, as they can be breeding grounds for bacteria," Dr. Butani says. "If you're prone to dry skin or eczema, these cleansing aids can strip the skin of the necessary barrier structure and oils that it needs to stay healthy," Dr. Papantoniou adds.
Wrong No. 6: You Use Cheap Soap
There's nothing worse then realizing the products you're using are the reason your skin is feeling rough and uncomfortably tight. Even when you stock up on moisturizers, it's important to know that good skin care starts in the shower. "Bar soaps tend to be more drying than shower gels," says Dr. Craig Kraffert, dermatologist and president of Amarte Skin Care. If you absolutely want to use bar soap, Dr. Kraffert suggests bars with emollient glycerin, natural oils, and low pH levels. Gels can be beneficial to those with fussier complexions. "If you have delicate, dry, sensitive, or eczema-prone skin, shower gel may be better: it is usually more pH-balanced and moisturizing than bar soap since it can be enriched with ultra-calming and soothing ingredients," Dr. Kraffert says.
Wrong No. 7: Your Water's Too Hot
Don't turn that knob all the way up! Steaming hot showers can worsen dry skin and lead to eczema. "Warm showers are better for the skin, because the temperature will help open up your pores, increase circulation, and clean the skin more effectively," Dr. Butani says.
Wrong No. 8: You Exfoliate Too Harshly
We do love a nicely scented body scrub, but it isn't always the best way to removing parched, flaky skin. "People love to exfoliate, which is really good if you have dry or rough skin, but it has to be done correctly," Dr. Butani says. "Exfoliate with a glycolic acid-based cleanser, instead of a beaded or salt scrub." She suggests doing this about three to five times a week.
Wrong No. 9: You Neglect Post-Shower Care
"After a shower, pat the skin dry with a towel, rather than rubbing, and moisturize within the first three to five minutes," says Dr. Butani, adding, "This is your opportunity to lock hydration into the skin. Even after doing it for a week, you will see a difference."
Also, when the temperatures drop, switch to coconut oil. "In the winter, coconut oil-based products help skin retain moisture," says Michele Saunders, an esthetician from Suede Salon and Spa in Marlton, New Jersey. Other natural products that are great this time of year are shea butter, jojoba, argan, and olive oils.