A shower is a shower – you don’t exactly need detailed instructions to tell you how to do it, you just get in without thinking much about it, at least several times a week if not every day. But the reality is, you’re likely making a number of mistakes every time you shower, which is not doing your skin, or your hair, any favors.
1. The water temperature is too hot
A hot shower feels great on a chilly winter’s morning or after a long, hard day at work, but that hot water isn’t great for your skin or your hair. It removes too much of your natural oils, which is why hot water works better when you’re cleaning something like a greasy pan. It also causes the skin to turn red due to increased blood circulation, which then creates an inflammatory response that can result in a rash and itchy dry skin. Your skin is more likely to flake, and your hair is more likely to frizz too.
While hopping into a cold shower would be pretty miserable unless it’s a scorching hot day, just try to keep the temperature as cool as you can handle it, at most bringing it to skin temperature, especially if your skin is prone to dryness.
2. You scrub too aggressively
Many people get way too aggressive with the washcloth and/or loofah. Loofahs are actually really bad for the skin, with the exception of bottoms of the feet. That’s because they are too rough and can remove the natural protective barrier of the skin. The more you scrub, the more likely your skin is to produce an excess of sebum, which is the oil substance that keeps it moisturized while acting like a trap for dirt and bacteria to compensate, causing your skin to be oiler than you’d probably like.
Be gentle, using only a minimal amount of rubbing with a soft washcloth (a cotton baby washcloth is ideal). And, as both loofahs and washcloths are breeding grounds for bacteria, launder your washcloth after using it three times by washing it in hot water. That will not only get rid of bacteria, but it helps to eliminate that musty smell caused by the buildup. If you do use a loofah, it needs to be cleaned out regularly too.
3. You wash your hair every day
Are you jumping in the shower every day and washing your hair when you do? That’s not the best idea if you want to have healthy, attractive looking locks. Experts specializing in the hair and scalp say that’s a big no-no. If you have thin, fine hair you should shampoo no more than twice a week to help maintain the hair’s natural oil production and achieve moisture balance. If you have curly, or coarse hair, shampooing is recommended only once a week as it takes longer to establish a sufficient amount of natural oils. If you can’t stand going that long without it, try refreshing your hair about midway through the week by applying only a conditioner and rinsing it out thoroughly afterward.
4. You’re not rinsing well enough
Speaking of rinsing, making sure all of the products you use in the shower are thoroughly rinsed away as lingering residue can lead to irritated skin and clogged pores, which may result in acne. If you’re prone to pimples on your back, that may be the reason. Avoid them by rinsing your hair while your head is tilted to the side to allow the shampoo or conditioner to run directly into the drain rather than down your back.
5. You use your fingernails to scrub your scalp
A scalp scrub feels fabulous, but don’t use those fingernails as it causes more harm than good. That’s because they can scratch the scalp which may cause flaking. Avoid using your nails and use just your fingertips to work up a lather when shampooing. Don’t get too aggressive when rubbing those strands of hair either, as you could end up with damage and split ends.
6. You can sing an entire album in the shower
While there’s nothing wrong with singing in the shower, in fact, we highly recommend it, if you can sing an entire album or even half of it, you’re in there way too long. Yes, it feels good to relax under that spray, but staying under too long will dry out your skin. Try to limit yourself to 10 minutes, you should be able to belt out at least two or three tunes while you’re shampooing, conditioning and soaping up.
7. You’re overdoing the shower gel
Some people just love shower gels. Perhaps it’s the scent or the fun of lathering up, it’s hard to say, but unless you’re three years old and playing around in the bath, there’s really no excuse. It does the same thing as staying in the shower too long and using water that’s too hot – it strips the skin of its natural oils, necessary for it to remain healthy. In addition to making your skin itch, it can also aggravate problems like eczema too.
8. You wait too long to moisturize afterward
Okay, so technically this is after your shower, but it’s still part of the whole experience. Experts say that it should be done almost immediately after you get out – no longer than three minutes – so that the skin doesn’t lose moisture to the air. Moisturizing when you’re still a little wet helps to seal some of that moisture in. After stepping out, gently pat the excess water, allowing some droplets to remain. Then apply a liberal amount of moisturizer to trap the water in. Making use of that ambient heat from the shower and the humidity within minutes helps the skin soak up that moisturizer.
If the skin becomes dry or cracked, bacteria and allergens can get in, making this one step you never want to skip
9. You soap up your entire body
Soap is designed to dissolve oil and dirt so that water can wash it away, but as the skin on your limbs doesn’t have a lot of oil to give up, when you clean your arms and legs with soap, you leave them bone dry. Try to limit soaping to the oily, odor-causing parts of your body, like your feet, armpits, buttocks, groin and face.
10. You aren’t being gentle enough with the towel
If you’re vigorously drying yourself off with a towel, it can worsen problems like dry skin and itchiness. Gently pat your skin dry instead. It’s also important to consider your hair. If you’re wrapping up your hair in a towel or drying it too intensely with it, it can lead to damage and breakage. If you really want something to wrap your hair up in, use a microfiber towel instead. It’s less fluffy than a regular towel, but it’s much better for your hair as it absorbs water much quicker without the need for rubbing, which also means less breakage and frizziness.
11. You use deodorant soap
When you’ve developed a habit of using particular products, it can be hard to give one of them up, but if you’re using a deodorant or antibacterial soap, it’s one habit you really need to break. That’s because the harsh fragrances and other ingredients tend to strip the moisture out of your skin, which can cause extreme flakiness, dryness, and itching. The next time you shop for soap, watch out for ingredients like fragrance, synthetic colors, triclosan, formaldehyde, triclosan and parabens all of which are known to aggravate the skin and cause abnormal dryness and dermatitis, not to mention what they do to your health, as those toxins seep right into your skin.
Particularly if you’re older, you might want to consider an alternative to soap. As we age, the skin becomes thinner and loses sweat, fat, and oil glands, which means a moisturizing cleanser is best. You can make your own homemade body wash that’s excellent for aging skin by mixing up two-thirds a cup liquid castile soap, a quarter cup of raw honey, two teaspoons olive oil or sweet almond oil, a teaspoon of vitamin E oil and 50 drops of essential oils. Lavender is excellent for all skin types, especially mature skin, as well as those who suffer from conditions like eczema, psoriasis or acne.