If anything divides people more than the debate between SoulCycle and Flywheel or how often you should wash your hair, it’s whether showering when you wake up or before you hop into bed is superior.
Those firmly in the first camp proclaim the virtues of an aqua-shock to the system before their first cup of coffee, while fans of the p.m. cleanse swear the best way to unwind is by washing off the grime of the day. Both have their benefits (clearly), but does one way truly reign supreme?
To settle this once and for all, three holistic experts of different backgrounds—an Ayurveda devotee, a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and an organic beauty pro with a more biological perspective—reveal their picks for the best time of day to get so fresh and so clean.
Keep reading to see if your preferred showering time is the right one (for you).
According to Ayurveda, you should…do double duty
“In Ayurveda, bathing is a very important ritual,” says Shadoh Punnapuzha, founder of the holistic and natural skin-care line Arya Essentials. “Not only does it cleanse you physically, it’s believed to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul.”
She recommends following the Ayurvedic practice of showering twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. “When you shower in the morning, it helps stimulate the cells and improve circulation to leave you looking energetic,” she explains. The evening shower, meanwhile, “allows you to wash away the day’s debris and help create a clean slate before you go to bed.” According to Punnapuzha, this also helps prepare your body for the natural exfoliation and restorative processes that happen at night.
On a more spiritual level, Punnapzha says, the nighttime scrub down “helps cleanse your mind and impart a sense of serenity.” Sweet dreams, party of one!
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, you should…lather up at night
Traditional Chinese Medicine gives you a small window for squeezing in your optimal shower: one hour after dinner and one hour before bed. “Nighttime showers allow your skin to better repair itself overnight,” says Wei Young Brian, founder of the TCM beauty brand Wei Beauty. “If you shower in the morning, you could be washing Yuan Qi—[your spark of energy]—away. So night is the better time.”
For your best shower ever, make sure to keep the water temperature between 75 and 82°F, Brian says, and limit your time under the stream to five minutes. While your pores are open (from all that feel-good steam), cleanse and massage your skin in a clockwise direction. And after toweling off, give yourself plenty of TLC: slather on lotion, apply a face mask, and take some time to meditate before you slip under the covers. Uninterrupted zzz’s are all but guaranteed.
According to Western medicine, you should…set your shower schedule by your skin type
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this cleansing conundrum, says Sarah Brown, founder of the organic skin-care brand Pai, which was formulated especially for people with sensitive skin. “A morning shower is a great way to stimulate your skin cells, which is particularly important for combination and oily skin types, as well as skin prone to acne,” she explains. “Oils can build up on the skin during the night, and a morning shower can help to clear those pores.”
If you have dry or flaky skin, however, Brown recommends a p.m. lather. “This is because your skin naturally exfoliates and replenishes itself at night,” she says.
But that’s not to say you can’t switch things up for a mental boost: Morning showers kickstart your brain by relaxing your prefrontal cortex, Brown says, while nighttime showers help soothe your mind by separating your daytime thoughts from your (restful) evening ones.
And if you constantly sleep through your alarm, you may have a whole other reason to skip a step in your morning routine.
The next way to maximize your shower: Find out when you should wash with body wash, and when a bar of soap is best. And to wake up in the morning feeling energized, sans suds, try one of these totally badass AM rituals.