I’m about to give you some very convincing reasons not to wash your face in the shower


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I posed what I thought was a simple question to the team at Well+Good, and I have never received such strong opinions and division amongst editors. The controversial question at hand: Should you really wash your face in the shower?

Personally, I separate washing my bod in the shower and washing my face at the sink like church and state. I wouldn’t dare spend time in the shower washing my face, which requires a totally different set of products. Some of my coworkers, however, beg to differ. “I’ve been washing my face in the shower my whole life is that wrong?!” one colleague questioned. Another noted that “there’s so much water to be had in the shower, why the extra step?!”

All fair points. But in addition to the fact that my face wash lives at my sink so that I can scrub my mug twice a day (without having to move my cleanser back-and-forth between the shower), the main reason I don’t wash my complexion in the shower is the water’s temperature. Typically, shower water is pretty damn hot, and hot water has been known and scientifically shown to irritate the skin and disrupt your skin’s barrier. “We may love hot showers, but our skin does not,” notes Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “Hot water can strip the skin of oils, leading to dryness, irritation, and inflammation.”

“We may love hot showers, but our skin does not.” —Joshua Zeichner, MD

While a lot of the water gets on the body, I’ve become pretty good at keeping it off my face, turning away from the spout. Besides the temperature factor, however, derms say it’s fine to still wash your face in the shower—if you’re careful. “Keep showers to ten minutes or less, and the temperature should be around what you’d expect from a heated pool in the summer,” says Dr. Zeichner.

Mona Gohara, MD, a Danbury, Connecticut-based dermatologist, agrees. “That’s where I do it,” she says of washing her face in the shower. “As long as your technique and products are right, the place isn’t important in my view. Just use warm water, not hot water.”

And if you’re going to stick to your body-and-face-in-the-shower routine, just still be sure to use the right cleanser for your complexion type. “It doesn’t matter if you wash in the shower or the sink, as long as you’re catering to your skin’s needs,” says Dr. Zeichner. Okay, so there’s not much wrong with staying in the water to wash your face. But I’m sticking with the sink.

As for other things to know about your cleansing routine: This is how long to wash your face for. And this is how hard to scrub when doing so. 

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