While it doesn’t seem like there could be any wrong way to take a bath, Stacy Chimento, MD, a board certified dermatologist of Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, says there are a few mistakes you should be cautious to avoid. “There are some basics when it comes to taking a bath that people should know to make sure they aren’t damaging their skin without meaning to,” she says.
The good news is as long as you avoid these mistakes, you’ll come out of that water feeling better than ever.
The wrong way to take a bath
1. The water is too hot
That super-hot bath water feels relaxing, but it’s not doing your skin any good. “Hot water can be abrasive, stripping the skin of its natural oils, which leaves it dehydrated and dull-looking,” says Dr. Chimento. “If you get the water on your face as well, this can cause acne flare-ups, breakouts, and skin irritation.”
Dr. Chimento says the ideal temperature for a bath is between 100°F to 110°F, which is warm but not uncomfortably hot. “If the water is too hot, the outer layer begins to break down, allowing the entry of bacteria and toxins and drawing out moisture,” she says.
2. You’re soaking for too long
If you’re taking hour-long baths, you might want to cut down you time… a lot. “When taking a bath, you should try to limit it to 15 minutes,” Dr. Chimento says. “Anything longer than that will begin to strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to inflammation and irritation.” Basically, when it starts to get cold, get out.
3. You’re shaving before a bath
It might not seem like there’s any harm in shaving before a bath, but it could be setting your skin up for disaster. “Shaving opens your pores and sometimes create little nicks in the skin. If you take a bath directly after, you’re allowing germs and bacteria to reach those places, too, which you don’t want,” Dr. Chimento says. Save shaving for the shower instead.
4. You’re using essential oils
Yes, essential oils make your bath smell amazing. Unfortunately, your skin might not appreciate the soothing scents. “Essential oils should never be mixed with water, as they won’t dilute,” Dr. Chimento says. “While essential oils are rich in antioxidants and antibacterial ingredients beneficial for the skin, most of them include fragrance ingredients that can significantly irritate the skin.”
Instead, she recommends mixing a few drops of an essential oil—like lavender ($10) or eucalyptus with aloe—into a cup of oatmeal, then tossing it into your warm bath. That way, you’ll reap the benefits without potentially hurting your skin.
5. You’re not moisturizing afterward
Since baths can dry out your skin, moisturizing afterward is a must. “Immediately following your bath, moisturize your skin while it’s still slightly damp to seal in moisture,” Dr. Chimento says. “You can do this with any lotion or body oil.”
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