In theory, showering should be one of the simplest, most mindless parts of your beauty routine. You turn on the water, spend a few minutes scrubbing your dirty parts, and then step out feeling squeaky clean. But according to board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, there are certain mistakes that most of us are making in the process that are messing with our complexions.
"Skin care actually starts in the shower," she says in the latest episode of Dear Derm. "Everything that happens in there really, really matters. And I’m not just talking about your face. I’m talking about your body and your microbiome." While it may seem like a no-brainer, there are a number of factors that go into taking a proper, skin-friendly shower. "The shower is a time to be gentle—gentle on your mind, your body, and your skin," she says. But unfortunately, not all of us are doing it quite the right way. Check out the biggest mistakes people make in the shower below, then press play on the video above to find out exactly how to fix 'em.
5 biggest mistakes we make in the shower
1. Going too hot for too long: As ahh-inducing as it might feel to spend 15 minutes luxuriating in a hot shower, it's actually one of the worst things you can do for your skin (plus, it isn't exactly environmentally friendly). "Hot water is truly something that can be damaging to the skin because it can strip your skin of essential lipids and proteins and make it much more easily inflamed," says Dr. Gohara. Staying in for too long—especially under hot water—is also a bad idea, because the water can further damage and dehydrate your skin.
2. Using too-harsh of a cleanser: "Oftentimes people use harsh soaps that are analogous to what you’d use on your dishes, and that’s crazy for me to even think about," she says. This can compromise your skin barrier, which will set you up for dry, itchy skin when you step out from under the water. "If you get out of the shower and you have that squeaky clean feeling, that means your barrier is all messed up, so that’s your skin’s SOS to get a more gentle cleanser," she says.
3. Over-exfoliating: While full-body exfoliation is important for getting rid of dry, dead cells, doing too much of it can have a damaging effect. The worst offender? Loofahs. "Loofahs are the worst thing you can use for your skin, because they’re literally stripping off your entire protective barrier and leave the skin extremely irritated," she says. Considering they're also a breeding ground for bacteria, it's best to skip out on the fancy tool altogether.
4. Shaving incorrectly: No matter what parts of your body you shave, it's important to do it right. "Don't use a razor that has a lot of blades on it, just one or two blades to minimize irritation," she says. "And don't go against the grain of the hair... it minimizes razor bumps a lot." Plus, skipping out on shaving cream is also a no-no.
5. Drying incorrectly: Hanging out in the bathroom dripping wet is the worst, but drying your skin improperly can cause irritation. "I don't use a standard towel," says Dr. Gohara, noting that they can be abrasive and harsh. Instead, she's got a secret trick for drying off without irritation (you'll have to catch the video to find out what it is) before slathering on her daily dose of full-body moisturizer.
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