The amount of time you spend in the shower may not matter — here's what you should really be paying attention to
- Dermatologists suggest that the average shower should be between five and 15 minutes, but it depends on what you plan to do in the shower.
- Shorter, cooler showers are generally better for your skin.
- Overusing soap or showering in hot water can negatively impact your skin and hair.
You might think that showering isn't all that complicated. After all, it's likely something that you've been doing on regular basis for years.
But there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to have an efficient shower that does as little damage to your skin and hair as possible.
The amount of time you should spend in the shower depends on what you do in there
According to Dr Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, the longer you spend in the water, the more your skin can dry out.
"It's best to try to limit the length of the shower and to apply moisturisers immediately after to lock some hydration into the skin," Dr Ilyas told INSIDER.
How long you truly spend in the shower, however, depends at least partially on what you're doing when you're in there.
"Anywhere from five to 15 minutes should do the trick, depending on what needs to get done," Dr Susan Bard, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, told INSIDER. If you plan to shave your legs or wash your hair, it could be longer.
Dr Ilyas gave a similar time frame, saying that five to 10 minutes should be enough time for a basic shower where you're just rinsing off and cleaning your body.
The temperature of your shower is also fairly important
Scalding hot showers aren't the best when it comes to your skin's health.
"Hotter showers will strip our skin of its natural oils leading to a higher risk of itchy dry skin," Ilyas told INSIDER.
"This is particularly an issue as we get older. Our skin is the barrier that allows us to regulate our body temperature relative to the environment. As we get older our skin thins considerably making it harder to do so. If you take hot showers, this only further strips moisture away from the skin making it even harder to regulate our body temperature, and it also makes us pretty itchy!"
Overall, you're better off showering with warm water instead of truly hot water.
If warm water is too cool for you to shower comfortably, Bard told INSIDER that you can make adjustments to lessen some of the negative effects from the hot water.
"If you insist on a hot shower, keep it short and lock in the moisture by patting dry until damp and then applying moisturiser from head to toe," Dr. Bard said.
The amount of soap you use in the shower can also play a role in your skin's health
If you struggle with dry, itchy skin or a condition like eczema, you also need to be cautious about how much soap you're using and where you're applying it.
"If you tend to have very dry skin, it helps to limit soap use to the face, underarms, groin, hands, and feet," Ilyas explained. "Most patients with eczema tend to flare on the back, arms, and legs as the winter starts. It helps to reduce the tendency towards dryness by limiting soap use here."
She added that, in general, soap can dry out anyone's skin if you use too much.
Over-washing your skin can cause more harm than good
Although more soap sounds like a good thing, using too much of it can make your skin sensitive.
"I like to tell my patients to think of their skin cells as like a cobblestone street," Ilyas said. "The mortar that holds their skin cells together can break down with excess hot water and soap. This will make them far more sensitive to the environment resulting in itchy and eczema prone skin."
All in all, she suggests limiting the time you spend in the shower and the amount of soap you use. She also suggests being cautious when it comes to your shower's temperature.
According to Ilyas, all of this "will only support your skin's barrier function more effectively."
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