There are two types of shower-takers: those who lazily luxuriate under a waterfall as they lather up with essential oil-spiked suds and those who simply cannot. I fall in the latter category. I treat my showers like sprint practice—the sooner I’m in and out the better. And TBH, while my mom side-eyes the fact that I regularly keep my showers under three minutes (way below average), my skin is likely thanking me for it. For many people, their average shower time far exceeds dermatologists’ recommendations.
Allow me to explain. Despite the fact that the warm water is the perfect antidote to chilly temps, the heat isn’t so great for our first line of defense. Studies have shown that hot water can strip away moisture within the epidermis, leaving the skin barrier compromised, inflamed (and dry, in the irony of ironies). Given this, dermatologists say that there are a few things that we can do to address the situation. First off, keep showers short. They don’t have to compete with my gold medal efforts, but they shouldn’t run the length of, say, a Netflix episode either. “I definitely would cap it at 15 minutes,” says dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. “If your fingers and toes are wrinkly, you’ve been in for too long.” (Rather than Seinfeld, maybe you flip on an episode or two of our YouTube series What the Wellness to count as your timer.)
While the length of your showers is super important, so too, is keeping the temperature down so that skin isn’t stripped. “Water temperature should be around what you would expect a heated pool to be in the summer time, which is around 86 degrees Fahrenheit,” explains New York City dermatologists Joshua Zeichner, MD. To finish off, both derms recommend reaching for a super-gentle, soap-free cleanser, such as Dove Body Wash Mousse with Rose Oil ($6) or REN Neroli and Grapefruit Body Wash ($24) which will remove grime from skin while keeping skin happy. “Stick to gentle, soap free cleansers,” says Dr. Zeichner. “It’s a myth that you need a cleanser every day on your whole body. In fact, for some people, rinsing with water is enough. The only exception is after heavy sweating, for example after exercise.” Oh, and the areas that get super smelly (ahem: armpits and feet). From there, you do you, and you’ll be out in no time.
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