Showering is simple, right? You hop in, wash your body, hop out, and dry off.
Well, skin experts have revealed that we should all be thinking a lot more about our daily showering routines. How we shower can have a much bigger impact on our skin than you might think.
Do you have the same number of showers despite the season? How much soap do you use? Just how hot do you like your shower?
These are the questions you should be asking yourself, according to the experts at skincare specialists ARRAN Sense of Scotland, especially if you suffer from dry or sensitive skin.
Here are their top tips on the right way to shower to get softer, smoother, healthier skin:
Shower less frequently
‘The main issue is overcleaning, most of us shower too often and strip the skin of its natural oils but the length of our showers, when we have them and how we use products are all important.’
They say skin is actually very clever; it cleans itself and keeps itself healthy by generating a layer of natural oils on the surface. If you shower too frequently you will disrupt the skin’s natural PH balance and strip it of its natural protection.
So, what is the magic number when it comes to showers?
‘One shower a day is more than enough to keep you clean,’ say the experts at ARRAN. ‘Some experts actually recommend every other day, depending on your activity levels.
‘Certainly, if you adapt your daily routine to the one shower a day rule and you should see your skin start to benefit. If you’re heading to the gym after work, then don’t shower in the morning for example.’
Think about timings
A shower in the morning wakes you up and gets you ready for the day, but skincare experts seem to agree that the best time to shower for skin is at night.
‘If you’re sticking to one shower a day, then night-time is without a doubt the best time to do it,’ they say.
‘Showering at night removes the build-up of dirt and bacteria on the skin’s surface ready for the skin to regenerate as you sleep. By going to bed with clean skin you will limit the opportunity for pores to become clogged as this rejuvenation process happens.’
Try seasonal showering
According to the experts, you can adapt your shower routine with the seasons – known as seasonal showering: ‘Winter months are harsher on skin, and over washing can further strip skin of natural oils, which can in turn lead to already dry skin becoming flaky and itchy.
‘Couple this with exposure to changes in temperature, going from very cold outside to warm central heating or getting out of a hot shower into a cold room and it’s a recipe for disaster for skin.’
In summer, it makes sense that you will need to shower more frequently as the temperature rises, especially if you’re exercising or have an active job.
‘If you suffer from hay fever, then a shower before bedtime will help to rinse off any pollen residue,’ they add.
‘If you shower more than once a day, there should be no need to use soap on the entirety of your body on all of the occasions.’
Focus on ingredients
Just like with food, you it’s important to check what’s in the products you use on the skin.
‘Look out for natural products that are fragranced with essential oils rather than harsh chemicals. PH levels are important too, the epidermis has a PH level of 5.5 so find something as close to that as possible and you won’t go far wrong.
‘If you want something that is gently exfoliating, then choose a soap with oatmeal or wheatgerm that will remove dead skin cells without being too abrasive.
‘Glycerine is great for the skin as it helps the skin to retain moisture and relieve dryness.’
The experts suggest using soaps that enrich your skin and protect your natural skin barrier.
‘And it doesn’t have to be shower gel,’ they add. ‘Bar soaps are making a real comeback and no longer fit the stereotype of being drying and harsh on the skin.’
Wash only where it’s needed
Not to be the ones to bring this contentious issue back up again, but remember when Ashton Kutcher admitted he just uses soap and water on his ‘armpits and crotch daily,’ but ‘nothing else ever’?
Where lots of people found this to be unhygienic and gross, some skin experts agree with the celebrity couple.
‘There’s something to be said about only washing the areas of the body that really need it, especially when showering daily’ they say. ‘Again, it’s about letting the skin do its natural thing to protect itself. Perhaps wash your entire body just once or twice a week and use your daily shower to focus on the areas that have lots of sweat glands or where bacteria can gather.
‘For people that suffer with acne on their backs and other areas of the body, the worst thing you can do here is to dry these areas out by over cleansing. It is counterproductive as the body overcompensates and makes more oil.’
‘Exfoliating two to three times a week can help to remove the build-up of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, but “scrubbing” should be most definitely off the agenda.’
When exfoliating, experts suggest you use something gentle and natural rather than an abrasive surface.
‘Work across the skin in large circular movements and work towards your heart to encourage detoxification.
‘Baking soda, finely ground sugar, coffee grounds, finely ground almonds, oatmeal, and finely ground sea salt will all exfoliate without being too harsh on the skin.’
Not too hot, not too cold
Cold showers can help with circulation and muscle recovery where hot showers are thought to relax the muscles and open pores, but when talking about skin, experts say a warm shower is best.
‘Hot water is another thing that strips the protective oil that your skin needs, so around 36°C is the ideal temperature for it to not to be harsh on the skin,’ they explain.
‘As a rule of thumb, if your skin is turning red it’s time to turn the heat down.’
Set the timer
Long showers feel luxurious and calming, but your skin will thank you if you opt for shorter ones.
‘Reducing the time you spend in the shower is not simply better for the environment, it’s great for skin too,’ explain the experts at ARRAN.
‘Five to ten minutes is ample time to clean what needs to be cleaned and perhaps have a few minutes to spend daydreaming, waking yourself up or letting the day go if you’re showering at night.
‘Pop on a timer, or a couple of songs that you love as a reminder of when to get out.’
To dry or not to dry
Many people are guilty of not drying off properly after a shower – but could this actually be a good thing?
‘Applying moisturiser to damp skin can actually lock in the moisture, so yes there are benefits to not drying your skin fully. Pat yourself off and then apply your product to the skin.
‘A word of caution though, you should dry off intimate areas fully otherwise you could be prone to infections.
‘And always let your moisturiser sink in and your skin dry fully before getting dressed.’
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