You may not know how to do a salon-quality blow-out at home or how to polish your right hand nails using your left hand, but showering? You’ve been keeping clean all by your lonesome since forever and chances are you probably think you’ve mastered it. But as it turns out, there is a right and a wrong way to shower–and many of us may be damaging our skin and hair or not getting the most out of our daily cleaning routine by doing things the way we’ve always done them. Beauty and skin experts are here to set us straight with 9 showering tips and tricks you need to start implementing ASAP.
1. Ditch your loofah. They’re cute, colorful and feel nice against your skin, but unless you plan on replacing them often, loofahs aren’t the best option. “Loofahs can harbor bacteria like a kitchen sponge; using your hands to cleanse your body is the most sanitary way to go,” says Beverly Hills aesthetician Gina Mari of Gina Mari Skincare.
2. Wash your hair first. Not sure what to do first? Focus on your hair. “Start your shower by washing your hair first,” Mari says. “When you condition your hair, tie it up with a clip while you cleanse your body to eliminate any excess hair product from settling into your skin.” While you cleanse your body, your hair will benefit from extra time soaking in all that hydration.
3. Shave at the end of your shower. “The ideal time to shave is at the end of the shower with the water still running so you still have the steam in the shower,” says Dr. Neal Schultz, board certified dermatologist, founder of DermTv.com and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz. “Use a gentle cleanser on the areas that you‘re going to shave (i.e legs, thighs, bikini, underarms, etc.). The cleanser will strip the oils off the hairs, so those hairs can be penetrated by and softened by the moisture in the shower. This makes it easier for the razor to cut the hairs, requiring less pressure on the skin by the razor which immediately reduces the potential for irritation.”
4. Don’t use soap everyday. “A common cause of dry skin is using soap on a daily basis on areas that are prone to drying,” Schultz says. “Particularly in the winter time, soap does not need to be used on parts of the skin that are not closed (or clothed) like the legs, the trunk and the arms. That’s because all soaps are intrinsically drying and remove the precious little oils that are present in those areas. Certainly soap should be used on a daily basis in personal areas, areas that perspire and the hands and face, but as the soap that’s used there washes off, it runs over the body and that is more than sufficient to remove the sweat from non-soaped areas which is just salt and water that dissolves in water. ”
Michelle Ornstein, founder of Enessa Skincare, suggests avoiding bar soap altogether if your skin is prone to dryness and cleansing with a gentle, oil-based body wash.
5. Exfoliate–but not on a daily basis. You don’t need to scrub hard each day to ensure a deep cleaning, but it is important to exfoliate in order to remove dead skin cells. Just be mindful that you aren’t going overboard. “Exfoliate 2-3 times a week at most,” Ornstein says. “Don’t scrub any areas where the skin is injured or where there is any acne, which can be common on the back and chest area. Scrubbing actually aggravates acne and causes the bacteria to spread.”
6. Don’t take hot showers. They may feel soothing, but hot showers are not your skin’s friend. “Be cognizant of water temps,” Schultz says. “Hot water opens the pores, which promotes water loss and also washes away the skin’s protective emollient oils, further compounding water loss. Together this can cause dry and itchy skin.” Your best bet is to keep water temperatures warm or slightly cool and to avoid taking long showers.
7. Wash your face before or after your shower. It’s tempting to try and kill two birds with one stone, but our bodies and faces have different needs. “Never wash your face in the shower as the water temperature is too hot for your facial skin,” Ornstein says.
8. Pay attention to forgotten body parts. “Some women forget to wash under their breasts–it’s an area that gets damp and sweaty and most definitely should be rinsed,” Ornstein says. “People also tend to forget to wash between the toes and the soles of the feet.”
Mari adds, “For rougher areas, like your feet, dedicate a pumice stone used specifically for those areas and not any others.”
9. Be gentle with your towel. “As soon as you step out of the shower, pat your skin dry, don’t rub it. Then apply your moisturizers to help lock in moisture that was picked up during bathing,” Schultz says.
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