Suffering with dry, flaky, rash-ridden or oily skin but no idea what’s causing it? It could well be related to your daily shower. Indeed, according to experts, millions of us are making the same crucial mistakes when we wash our bodies and these faux pas are wreaking havoc with our skin. Here, we’ve called on three experts to break down the 11 mistakes most of us make during our shower that are damaging our skin – plus ways to rectify this.
1. Showering daily
Ok, we’re not quite sure where we stand on this one but Cosmetic doctor Dr Rekha Tailor of Health & Aesthetics advises against showering every day. Explaining her somewhat shocking advice, she said: “There is evidence to suggest that not showering every day will result in improved skin quality; the theory behind it being that it allows the skin’s natural oils to regenerate resulting in skin that retains moisture and hydration better. In order for skin to remain healthy it needs to retain a layer of oil.
“Our skin is made up of a microbiome – this is the term used to describe all the organisms that live on our skin. It includes bacteria, fungi and viruses and so on. If this balance of microorganisms and if this is altered too much with shower-gel and over-washing, the skin can lose its natural defence mechanisms and affect the immune system so that the skin is more prone to problems such as dryness, infections and sensitivity.”
We think we’ll skip this piece of advice for the sake of our S.O.
2. Staying in the shower too long
Whilst showering is of course a necessary way to wash away sweat and dead skin cells, remove dirt, and prevent body odour, as we gleaned in the latter point, daily showers can also have a negative effect on your skin. If, like me, you’re still keen to wash every day, Dr Tailor suggests a half-way house: scrimping on shower time. “Washing the skin too often – and for prolonged periods of time – can remove the natural oils and affect the natural bacteria that grows there to support your immune system. The general advice for showers is the shorter the better, with some experts advising that five minutes is long enough.”
3. Showering in hot water
We love a steaming hot shower as much as the next person but apparently shorter, cooler showers are better for your skin. “This is because using water that’s too hot can have a negative impact on the skin,” says Dr Tailor. “Hot water causes damage to the keratin cells that are located on the outer layer of the skin, or epidermis. Higher temperatures cause skin to dry out and aggravate skin conditions such as eczema, often resulting in red, itchy and dry skin.” Cold showers it is.
4. Rubbing yourself dry with a towel
Resist the urge to rub your skin dry with a towel when you get out of the shower and try to blot it instead. According to Dr Tailor, blotting helps your skin to retain the moisture which it needs to stay healthy and hydrated. “Leaving skin damp is actually beneficial too because it helps skin to absorb the ingredients in your products and gain the maximum benefit from them,” she said.
5. Washing your body first
“Many people make the mistake of doing this, and then washing their hair afterwards,” she said. Guilty. “But I always advise that it’s best to wash your hair first and then follow this with washing your body.” Why? Some shampoos and conditioners can irritate delicate skin or aggravate acne if not washed away properly, so ensuring you wash your face and body after your hair will prevent this from happening. Noted.
6. Using products on the intimate areas
Whilst it’s important to wash the intimate areas it’s also important to make sure you allow the vagina to maintain it’s natural PH levels. Washing it with scented products and abrasive textures can not only irritate delicate skin but also damage the body’s natural PH Level and cause conditions such as Bacterial Vaginosis, which no one wants.
7. Shaving legs in your morning shower
According to the experts, the best time to shave legs is before bed because as we sleep, our legs get warmer and swell slightly which causes the hairs to retreat back into their follicles and become less obvious. So by shaving in the evening, when you wake in the morning your legs will feel smoother than they really are. Yaaas.
8. Using hard water
According to Abi Oleck, Celebrity Facialist & Skin Expert, most of us are showering in hard water, which dries out the hair and skin and worsen existing sensitivity. “As hard water makes our skin essentially more sensitive, it may have an impact on the products we use with potentially irritating ingredients,” she said. So how do we get around this if we live in a hard water area? “I would recommend a shower filter, such as Vitaclean Aromatherapy Vitamin C Filtered Showerhead, which not only filters the water, but with the use of Vitamin C, it improves skin tone and hair texture.” She also suggests avoiding products such as sulphate-based cleansers and those containing sodium lauryl sulfate.
9. Washing your face in the shower
A lot of people skip their morning cleanse but you should absolutely cleanse your face every morning and evening, even if you have not worn makeup or SPF, as daily pollution and grime will still be present on the skin. However, lazy gals will be devoed to here that you shouldn’t be cleansing your face in the shower. “You do not want shampoos or hair conditioners running down over your face as they contain harsh chemicals and surfactants. As well as this, we tend to have our shower water hotter, which can irritate the skin on our face. Wash your face over the basin, using lukewarm water,” said Abi.
10. Wash your hair separately
More heartbreak for lazy girls: we shouldn’t wash our hair in the shower. According to Abi, you should opt for doing this over a basin or showering separately ie. wash your hair and then tie it up in a shower cap before having your body shower. “Having shampoos or hair conditioners running over your face/down your back can irritate skin conditions, such as ‘bacne’. This is due to shampoos/conditioners containing harsh chemicals and surfactants. Conditioners have also been known to cause a film that has prevented SPF from working to its full potential, thus potentially harming the skin with sun exposure, particularly with children.”
11. Using a loofah that isn’t clean.
Loofahs are great for exfoliating the skin, but don’t forget you should be cleaning them weekly, you can do this by soaking it in hot water and vinegar, or you can even put it in the washing machine. Ensure you buy a new loofah every month, advises Dr Preema Vig MBBS MRCGP MBCAM, Medical Director of the Dr Preema London Clinic.