Even those who have exhaustive skincare regimens can overlook the most obvious starting point for healthy, resilient skin: the shower.
Simple as it may seem, we could all stand to improve our bathing routine. For example, that long, hot shower you rewarded yourself with this morning? Not great for your skin and hair.
What follows are a few tips to help ensure your shower is setting you up each day for clear, hydrated skin and stronger, softer hair.
Lower the temperature
No, you don’t need to shiver your way through your shower. But you also don’t need to exit the shower in a cloud of steam, as red as a lobster. Hot showers deplete the skin and hair of natural (and necessary) moisture and oils. Instead, aim for about lukewarm.
Try not to linger
Right behind temperature control in terms of shower priorities is time management. A lukewarm shower could still leave you with dry skin if it lasts 20 minutes. Ideally, you want to linger no longer than five minutes. If that feels extreme, shave off a couple minutes at a time.
Find your shampoo and conditioner
There is a shampoo and conditioner that’s just right for your hair type and goals, so take the time to find them. And, no, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. But you do need to stop expecting your partner’s shampoo and conditioner to do anything for you. What works for thick, oily hair is very different from what’s needed for thinning, dry hair.
This, at least, is universal: Shampoo that contains sulfates, alcohols, or parabens can dry out hair and the scalp and slow hair regrowth. And synthetic fragrances and colors in shampoo can cause an allergic response on the scalp. Instead, opt for fragrance-free and dye-free.
Address hard water
If you live somewhere with hard water, get a water filter for your shower head. Hard water contains lots of calcium and other minerals that can build up on your hair and leave it feeling greasy, even after showering.
Toss your loofah in the trash
If you’re loyal to a synthetic loofah, I have some bad news. It’s loaded with bacteria. They’re also terrible for the environment. A natural loofah is a much better choice because it’s far easier to keep clean and it decomposes over the course of a couple months. Or you can just swap in a moisturizing bar soap.
Start with the shampoo and conditioner
Many of us tend to rinse out our conditioner and shampoo almost as soon as we rub them into our hair. But they each need a couple minutes to do what they’re supposed to be doing. So, instead of waiting until the end, apply them at the start of your shower.
Save your face for last
Washing your face last ensures that no pore-clogging ingredients from your conditioner have found their way into the pores on your face after you rinse them out of your hair.
Moisturize while you’re still damp
Hydrating serums and moisturizers are designed to trap moisture in the skin. So, pat yourself dry with a towel and then, while your skin’s still damp, apply your product of choice. And start with your face. This way, there’s less risk of accidentally transferring comedogenic ingredients from your body moisturizer and hair styling products into your facial pores.
Take care with wet hair
Finally, be gentle with your wet hair. When hair absorbs water, it breaks down the hair’s outer coating, weakening the strands and making them susceptible to damage. For that reason, only use a wide-tooth comb to gently detangle your hair. Never brush wet hair. Don’t rub it aggressively with a towel, either. Dab it to remove the excess moisture.