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Are You Showering Wrong?

BY: Kelly MacDowell | Feb 4, 2016

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As a grown-up seasoned at doing grown-up things, the most thought you probably give to showering is, “Oh, it’s time to shower now.” Chances are, you haven’t thought about how to take a shower since little-kid you graduated from supervised bathtime.

But ever since we discovered that we’ve been washing our hair wrong, we suspected there might be more to this showering thing. Turns out there most definitely is. We got the low-down from two experts: Dr. Sejal Shah, dermatologist of Manhattan’s SmarterSkin Dermatology and a faculty member at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s–West, and Fadi Mourad, senior vice president of product development at Dollar Shave Club.

Here’s what they had to say about what we’ve been doing wrong all these years.

Things You’re Definitely Doing Wrong

Taking a long, hot shower.

There’s, like, nothing better on a cold morning or after a hard day, right??? WRONG. It does your skin no favors. “Hot showers can dry your skin out. The optimal temperature is lukewarm,” Dr. Shah said. “Hot water strips the skin’s oil much more than warm water [does].”

Leaving your loofah in the shower.

“When you use [a loofah] dead skin cells become lodged in the nooks. These dead skin cells are a breeding ground for bacteria,”  Dr. Shah said. She added that if left in the shower, loofahs “don’t completely dry out, and this can also encourage bacterial and fungal growth.”

Shaving your legs with whatever’s handy.

Especially if whatever’s handy is nothing. This is a big no-no according to Dollar Shave Club. “You should avoid using surfactant products [body wash, shampoo, etc.] for shaving as they will further dry out your skin,” Fadi said. “It’s important to use a shave product that provides good glide and protection against the razor to minimize razor burn and irritation, which can lead to breakouts and ingrown hairs.” They love Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter or Pillowy Shave Lather.

Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong

Using your loofah everywhere.

Sure, you probably know not to use it on your face, but the rest of your body is hardly fair game. “[Avoid the] genital area and any other sensitive areas,” advised Dr. Shah. “Usually your hands are sufficient in these areas, but if needed you can very gently use a soft washcloth.”

Replacing your loofah and your razor blade whenever you happen to think about it.

“If it’s a natural loofah, it should be replaced every 3–4 weeks. Artificial ones may last up to two months, but not always,” Dr. Shah noted. “Regardless of the type, you should thoroughly rinse and dry it after every use … and clean it at least weekly.” She recommends soaking it in a diluted bleach solution for five minutes, then hanging it in a cool place outside the bathroom to dry.

And what about razors? Well, that depends.

“We recommend changing your blade once a week [if using it daily],” Fadi said. “Everyone has different shaving habits [though], so the need for a new razor varies from person to person. A great tip to remember is if you feel any tugging, you’ll know it’s time to get a fresh [blade].”

Moisturizing at, uh, some point before getting dressed.

Do it right away! The sooner you slather on some body lotion, the more moisture you’re locking into your skin. “It is important to moisturize your skin while it is still damp. I recommend pat-drying the skin with a towel and then applying moisturizer… immediately after,” said Dr. Shah.

Things You’re Maybe Doing Right, But We’d Be Remiss Not to Mention

Exfoliating.

This isn’t just an essential step for a clear, bright complexion. “Always exfoliate with a mild and gentle exfoliator before you shave,” Fadi advised. “An aggressive scrub will strip your natural sebum and cause irritation during shaving. This irritation and drying effect causes ingrown hairs.” This is good advice not just for your face, but also the legs, bikini line, and most anywhere else you shave.

Shaving when you shower.

That’s a great start, but there’s an order of operations to keep in mind. “When shaving in the shower, it’s best to shave toward the end to allow the warm water and humidity to soften your skin and hair as much as possible, and to also minimize the time between shaving and applying a post-shave moisturizer,” Fadi said. Alternatively, shaving immediately after a shower should yield the same skin-softening effects.  

Washing your bath towel.

But how often? How dirty can it possibly get if you only use it when you’re clean? The answer: pretty dirty. (Skin cells add up faster than you think.) Dr. Shah recommends washing a towel after every third or fourth use.

Check out related reads on the The Guide:

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Are You Washing Your Hair Wrong?

Hint: If you’re doing it like the woman in this picture, then the answer is yes.

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Are You Washing Your Face Wrong?

A master aesthetician teaches us what ingredients to look for, how often to use them, and why oil is not always the enemy.