Some of us live for those extended hot showers early in the morning or at the end the day as part of our daily routines to wake up, warm up, get energized, or as therapeutic act to get through the day. However, as soothing as they can be, they can also do significant damage to your skin’s natural functions over time.
Skipping hot showers altogether is the best solution skin wise, but we know how hard that can be to do. Let’s explore the different ways hot showers may or may not be harmful to your overall skin health.
Long, hot showers can combat the skin’s natural functions as a protective barrier and deplete natural oils from the surface while also stripping hair of its own protective oils and weaken your complexion altogether. Hot showers adversely affect the skin’s most outer layer, the epidermis, full of substances that provide a tough defense against outside conditions while retaining moisture.
Heat from hot water combined with soap will soften your skin and slowly strip away its natural, oily protective barriers. Some of this can good like removing dirt, sweat, or body odor. However, we want to keep in the skin’s natural moisture where possible and prevent dry or irritated, itchy skin.
Basically, the longer and hotter the shower, the worse it is for your skin’s health.
What About Baths?
You may think hot baths may be less scalding or hurtful but soaking in a tub of hot water can be even worse than a hot shower. To prevent extra dryness from a bath, some doctors suggest adding a few spoonfuls of oil (olive, almond, or grape seed to combat some of the dryness.
Gentle cleansers can also help protect your skin’s natural moisture barrier to offset exposure to hot water.
It’s important to follow up your bathing, however you do it, with regular moisturizing to keep your skin from drying. Moisturizing right after a shower can act as a temporary replacement to your skin’s natural oils and keep moisture in. The longer you wait to apply moisturizer, the more moisture will escape.
Colder showers have been known to have certain benefits to the skin. The water doesn’t have to be particularly cold either. Lukewarm or tepid water under 110° F (or 43° C) is recommended. It will also help keep your energy bill lower.
Aside from easing your energy costs, cold showers can shock your body awake as the change in temperature relieves the body of any fatigue and increases mental alertness. They are also better for your hair, skin, hydration, and help split ends, dry skin, and in some cases can be used to treat depression.
Like anything, balance and everyday maintenance is essential. Just as a we advocate for daily skin care to maintain your skin’s health and upkeep, other everyday cleaning methods like washing, bathing, and showering should be considered.
Try to keep your showers as short as possible, 10 minutes at most. When you do shower, make sure to cleanse and only use soap in essential areas like the underarms, groin, or feet to prevent dryness in other, more sensitive areas.
When you can, make sure to try and avoid constant exposure to hot water on your skin for extended amounts of time. What’s most important is gentle care and daily washing or cleansing of your skin to make sure its at its best alongside a skin care routine.
While keeping shower temperatures moderate can help your skin retain its healthy level of natural oils, gently exfoliating your skin when taking a shower or bathing will also help your skin better maintain its moisture barrier, keep it smoother, and more resilient.
While we may be focusing on bathing and showering here, the same goes for hot water use outside the tub or shower. Make sure to limit hot water use on the skin when doing your facial skin care cleansing in the bathroom sink.
Remember, the bottom line is that long, hot showers dry out the skin despite how good they might feel. It can also exacerbate skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema or atopic dermatitis. We want to keep as much of the skin’s natural functions working their best, so it’s best to avoid those hot showers when you can.