Find out the surprising missteps you’ve been making behind the shower curtain.
You spend time showering every. Single. Day. So don’t you think you should do it in the smartest way possible? We consulted experts to find out how you can make better use of the minutes you log behind the curtain to get softer skin and better hair—in less time. You’re welcome.
Skip The Soap
Shocking but true: Soap isn’t necessary or helpful when you shower, says dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, M.D. Suds can actually strip skin of its essential oils, leaving it tight, dry, and itchy. The smarter move: Use a soap-free body wash like Sebamed Liquid Face and Body Wash. A body wash like this is water-based instead of oil-based to maintain the slightly acidic pH of 5.5—so it’ll cleanse skin without drying it out, says Nussbaum.
…And the Hot Water
You now know that soap can be majorly drying to your skin—but super-hot water exacerbates the effect even more, says Nussbaum. So as good as it might feel to crank up the water temp, you’re actually better off sticking with lukewarm H2O.
Give Your Loofah Some TLC
Washcloths and loofahs can harbor bacteria, mold, and yeast, says dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, M.D. If you use a loofah, make sure you replace it at least once a month. Schlessinger says the best way to keep loofahs clean is to dry them completely between uses—even if that means storing it outside of the moisture-filled shower. If you prefer washcloths, grab a fresh one every day, and avoid using it on your face. This is very irritating to the skin and ends up causing dry areas, breakouts, and even sores, says Schlessinger, who recommends washing your face with your hands instead.
Use Shampoo on the Right Spots
Many people put the bulk of their shampoo on the general length of their hair, but it’s actually a better idea to focus most of it on your scalp, roots, and the nape of your neck, says Schlessinger. Why? This is where dirt and oils usually collect. It’s also a good idea to avoid using too much shampoo on your ends because they’re prone to dryness and brittleness.
Don’t Shave Until the End of Your Shower
In order to get the closest shave—and reduce your chances of getting an ingrown hair—you’ll want to wait until at least five minutes into your shower before you break out your razor. This will give your pores a chance to open and ensure the hair’s softened for easy removal, says Nussbaum. Again, though, you’ll want to make sure the water is warm, not hot, since scalding water will cause your follicles to swell (and when this happens, your hair is more likely to break before it can be removed).
Keep Showers Short
Stick to short showers—no more than five to 10 minutes, depending on if you’re shaving, says Nussbaum. This decreases the odds of stripping skin of its essential oils. So even though it may feel luxurious to treat yourself to a long shower, you’ll want to save those for rare occasions—otherwise, you’ll likely end up with dry and itchy patches of skin.
Moisturize Immediately Afterward
As soon as you step out, pat the skin dry—as opposed to rubbing it with a towel, which can be irritating—says Schlessinger. Then apply a lotion to lock moisture into skin and protect the epidermal barrier.