There’s nothing like a hot shower to feel clean and refreshed, right? Well, believe it or not, some of the most common shower habits could actually be doing your skin more harm than good.
Most people grab their washcloth or shower sponge and simply lather up their entire body with a nicely scented body wash or bar of soap without even thinking about it. So, what’s the problem?
The big issue is the moisture-sucking tendencies of the ways in which you lather up. Properly moisturized skin is key to maintaining the protective layer that helps prevent itchiness, redness, peeling and even aggravated skin conditions like acne.
If you want to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking, you may want to consider tweaking your shower routine a bit with some of the following tips.
Check the dryness of your skin and exfoliate when necessary.
If you scratch a small portion of skin on your arm or leg with your fingernail and it find that turns white, then your skin is dry. Consider using a clean loofah to gently remove the outer layer of dead skin cells. After that, you can work on locking in more moisture.
Go for short and lukewarm showers instead of long and hot showers.
The longer you stay in the shower and the hotter the temperature of the water, the more you strip away the protective oils and moisture from your skin. In fact, it’s often best to skip a daily shower altogether and save it for every other day instead.
Choose a mild, fragrance-free soap that moisturizes the skin.
Harsh soaps with heavy perfumes and antibacterial properties strip away your skin’s natural moisture barrier and contribute to dryness. Dove is widely known to be a good soap brand for keeping skin healthy because it doesn’t strip as many lipids or proteins away as do other soaps. It also hydrates the skin as you lather up with it.
Use soap to cleanse only the areas of your body that need it.
Unless you’ve been covered in dirt or residue from whatever you’ve been doing all day, there isn’t always a need to cover the majority of the surface area of your skin with soap suds as frequently as you might think. You can leave your back, chest, stomach, arms and legs mostly soap-free while focusing on cleansing those areas of the body that produce the most sweat–like the armpits, groin, between the buttocks, feet, toes and underneath breasts.
Pat your skin dry with a towel instead of rubbing it.
Most people are taught to pat their skin dry after showering if they have a sunburn or any other type of sensitive skin condition, but making this a permanent habit is an even better idea. Rushing to dry off by rubbing a towel back and forth across every area of your body can worsen skin dryness. Do your skin a favor by using a gentle upward and downward patting motion.
Apply moisturizer immediately after drying off.
Moisturizing after showering is always a good idea, but you don’t need any fancy moisturizers to get the job done. In fact, using a regular carrier oil is healthier (and cheaper) than most stuff you can find in the skincare aisle at your favorite cosmetic shops and drugstores. Some good options include coconut oil, sweet almond oil and olive oil.
Replace your loofahs and shower sponges regularly.
Last but not least, make sure you take proper care of your loofahs and shower sponges, and consider replacing them every 3 to 4 weeks. Research has found that they’re ideal breeding grounds for bacteria, which can be transferred to the skin every time you use them. Once you’re finished showering, make sure to wring the excess water out of your loofah or shower sponge and hang it up in a dry place. You can even consider microwaving or bleaching it to extend its use.
These are particularly good tips to follow in the winter when the air is very dry, but you’ll benefit the most from them if you use them all year round. Your skin will certainly thank you for it.