The time, temperature, and length of your shower can be a very personal decision, along with the soaps and shampoos you decide to use while you're in there. Naturally, you're welcome to do whatever makes you feel best in the moment, but experts have some science-based suggestions about what you should avoid making part of your morning routine. To make sure you're doing what's best for your body, read on for advice on protecting yourself while you scrub.
Your morning shower should never be too hot.
Although the idea of starting your morning off with a cold or lukewarm shower might sound unappealing, experts say it's the best thing for you. "Your morning shower should be lukewarm and not overly hot," says professional aesthetician Alison Angold. "Very hot water will not only dry out the skin, but will also remove the skin's surface barrier—the acid mantle. The acid mantle is made up of sweat and sebum and gives us an invisible layer of anti-bacterial protection. This protection prevents bacteria from entering the skin, but also protects against excessive dryness, sensitivity, irritation, congestion, and breakouts, so it's an essential component of the skin."
Clinical dermatologist Ailynne Marie Vergara-Wijangco, MD, agrees that "hot water strips away natural oils and damages the skin faster." While some people claim cold showers are the way to go, she says any temperature that feels good to you works—as long as it's not extremely hot. But cosmetic surgeon Robert Goldman, FRACS, MB, thinks you should give cold showers a try, noting that a cold shower in the morning can help wake you up, improve blood circulation, relax sore muscles, and speed up recovery after intensive exercise.
You shouldn't take a long morning shower either.
Although it might be tempting to start your day off with a long, luxurious shower, experts warn against the practice. "Showering for too long can be harmful to your skin," says Amber O'Brien, MD, a doctor at Mango Clinic. O'Brien suggests spending no more than five to 10 minutes in the shower in the morning.
Vergara-Wijangco also points out that prolonged water exposure could lead to dry skin and hair. Additionally, longer showers give "the water a chance to allow any cleansers to be more damaging," she says, so the shorter the shower, the better.
Avoiding long, hot showers is especially important for people with skin conditions.
People with skin conditions need to be especially conscious of the clock while they're in the shower. O'Brien notes that those with eczema or psoriasis should spend as little time as possible in the shower while still getting clean. Vergara-Wijangco says the same of people with atopic dermatitis or very dry skin. If you have any kind of skin condition, it could be exacerbated by taking a shower that's too long or too hot.
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And choose your shower products wisely.
The timing and temperature of your shower could be irrelevant if you're using all the wrong products while you're in there. Angold says that some soaps and shower gels can "disrupt the PH balance of this acid mantle and strip it from our skin, leaving the skin exposed to adverse conditions."
She recommends using a moisturizing body wash or shower oil to "maintain the delicate balance of the skin and leave the skin's protection in place, while also keeping the skin hydrated and nourished." If you have a specific skin condition, talk with your doctor about which products are best for you.