You probably bathe yourself without really thinking about it, but believe it or not, there is a right way to take a shower. While you probably get plenty clean with your current method, some of these tips and tricks can maximize your tubby time. Check out these do’s and don’t’s before you head to the bathroom and don’t forget your rubber ducky.
1. Don’t: Scrub your scalp with your fingernails
We all love a good scalp massage, but keep your nails out of it. “Your fingernails can scratch the scalp and even cause flaking,” according to dermatologist Sandy Johnson. Instead, use your fingertips to really get in there. Also try not to rub strands of your hair too harshly. Too much friction can damage it and cause split ends and frizz.
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2. Do: Use a moisturizing soap
“Bar soap without any moisturizing agent, like many antibacterial deodorant soaps, can really dry out your skin,” cautioned dermatologist Mona Gohara. Look for bars with stearic acid in the ingredient list, for starters. Those that call themselves “moisturizing” often also do the trick, but watch out for too many fancy, unpronounceable ingredients. The Dove Beauty Bar works well, especially for people with sensitive skin.
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3. Don’t: Turn up the heat all the way
“Showers, especially in winter, are way too hot and long. This strips your skin of natural oils and lipids that help trap water to keep it moist,” Dr. Gohara explained. Cold — or at least lukewarm — showers also wake up your system and will keep your skin looking fresher and more dewy. For those who dye your hair, color will also last longer if you turn down the heat.
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4. Do: Condition your scalp as well as your ends
Dr. Johnson advised conditioning the entire length of the hair, from root to tip. Some say conditioner will cause your scalp to get oily. However, that does not ring true for everyone. The skin on your head — just like the rest of you — needs moisture, too. Especially if you suffer from dandruff or flaky skin on your scalp, conditioner will help rebalance the skin there. Try a conditioning mask for extra TLC.
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5. Don’t: Scrub your body too hard
“People are too aggressive with loofahs and washcloths,” explained Dr. Gohara. “Loofahs are terrible for scrubbing because they’re rough and can remove the skin’s natural protective barrier.” She recommends a cotton baby washcloth, instead, or even just your hand. While you should exfoliate to get rid of dead skin, don’t do it every time you shower. A couple of times a week will do the trick.And always remember to wash your washcloth or loofah regularly. The warm, wet environment of your shower feels like paradise to bacteria.
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6. Do: Rinse your skin and hair thoroughly
Leaving too much product on your skin or hair can cause irritation and clog your pores, which in turn, can can cause acne. How long it actually takes to wash all of that shampoo, conditioner, and soap out might surprise you. Some experts say 60-90 minutes and even up to 3 minutes will prevent product build-up. If you get “bacne,” try rinsing your hair with your head to the side. That way, it washes right down the drain, missing your back.
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7. Do: Moisturize while your skin is still damp
When the hot water and steam opens up your pores, use that environment to your advantage. “Make use of the ambient heat from the shower and humidity in the bathroom and put on moisturizer within minutes,” advised Dr. Gohara. “Lotion soaks into skin best when it’s a little damp.” These days, some moisturizers use a formula that can go right into the shower with you. On days you exfoliate especially, don’t skip this step. Your skin will thank you.
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8. Don’t: Shower more often than necessary
Hopping into the shower two or more times a day can dry out the skin, and some dermatologists even suggest keeping it to every other day. When you shower, you rinse away your natural oils. Unless you work up a real sweat every day, you can duck under the water a few times a week according to dermatologist Marina Peredo. Your hair will stay softer and shinier if you let those oils soak in, as well.
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9. Do: Consider filtering your water
Depending on where you live, your water might carry harsh chemicals that can cause or worsen skin sensitivity. Unfiltered water can contain minerals like calcium and magnesium which spell bad news for skin. “These can leave residue on the skin and hair causing build-up, dryness, and irritation,” explained dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Dendy Engelman. Water which has these minerals, also known as “hard water,” can make it more difficult to wash out products. That, in turn, can make your skin and hair dull, dry, and flaky.
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10. Do: Use shower shoes at the gym or any public place
When you showered after gym class, you used shoes, right? Same goes for your gym today. You can catch foot fungus, warts, or other irritants from the gym, especially in the shower where bacteria thrive. Shower shoes will help prevention transmitting disease, as well as help keep you from slipping and sliding in there.
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