After a long and stressful day, you’re psyched to be able to snag a few minutes to yourself and enjoy a relaxing shower. But there’s one thing you may be doing before taking a shower that isn’t doing your skin or health any good: turning the faucet dial all the way to H and blasting the hot water.
A bathroom filled with warm steam is certainly soothing, especially when temperatures outside have plummeted. But it’s really important to turn down your dial to lukewarm before stepping into a shower — especially if you plan on killing two birds with one stone and washing your face in the shower.
Hot water boosts your circulation and can inflame your skin and sap it of critical levels of moisture, leaving it red, itchy, and dry. And, although there is no scientific proof that warm or cool water cleanses skin better than hot water, Dermatologist Dr. Fayne Frey says the risk to using hot water is obvious.
“You wouldn’t want to burn the skin,” Frey says. “Yes, boiling water kills bacteria. But water that is of a temperature that can be tolerated is not hot enough to kill bacteria. As a matter of fact, studies on washing the hands compared cold water to warmer water (water that was tolerable.) Studies found that cold water hand washing (40 degrees F) reduced bacterial counts as effectively as warm water if the hands were scrubbed, rinsed, and dried thoroughly.”
To minimize the harsh effects of hot water on the skin, keep your shower lukewarm or even cool if you can tolerate it (your shiny hair will thank you) and don’t soak for longer than 10 minutes to avoid dry skin and even rashes. If you emerge from your shower with red skin, that’s a sure sign you need to cool it.
For more health and beauty tips, check out Do you towel dry or air dry hair after a shower? and Do you know how often you should wash your shower curtain?
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