Saturday, February 24, 2024

Enhance your showers

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Showering seems like a simple enough task but did you know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to shower? Some of the most common shower habits may not actually be good for you or hygienic.

Taking a shower is a common daily routine, but it turns out there’s a right way to do it for both your health and cleanliness. Showering helps physically remove dead skin cells, oil, dirt, sweat, and bacteria and metaphorically wash off all the troubles of your day. To optimise your shower routine, consider factors like water temperature, your choice of body wash and tools used.

Here are some expert backed common mistakes we make and tips to keep in mind while showering. 

Do not spend too much time in the shower

Taking long, hot showers may seem luxurious and relaxing, but it can actually do more harm than good. It starts off by harming your skin, stripping it of its natural oils, which often leads to dehydrated skin, redness and vasodilation. Prolonged hot showers can even worsen existing skin conditions like rashes or eczema and make your skin more sensitive. To maintain healthy skin, limit your shower time to no more than 10 minutes and consider even shorter showers if you suffer from dry skin issues.

Do not wash your face in the shower

While it might be more convenient to start your skincare routine in the shower itself, it’s not a recommended approach. The water in your shower tends to be hotter than what you’d use at the sink and this scalding temperature can lead to skin dehydration and worsen certain skin conditions like rosacea or acne, which will amount to redness and irritation. Washing your face in the shower is not a good idea.

Do not take very hot showers

Showering with very hot water in winter can lead to skin dryness and potentially more severe conditions like skin inflammation and increased eczema. Hot showers and baths also damage the surface of your skin causing redness, itching and peeling, similar to sunburn. Hot showers strip away the natural oils, fats and proteins vital for healthy skin. To protect your skin, opt for warm water showers instead of hot water and limit your shower to 5 to 10 minutes. Lukewarm showers are ideal for all types of skin.

Are you washing your feet properly? 

It’s common to overlook your lower legs and feet when you’re showering, assuming they’re already exposed to plenty of water and leftover soap. I’m here to tell you… do not make this mistake!  Warm and sweaty feet create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to flourish. When bacteria come into contact with moisture, it leads to sulphurous by-products, and that familiar foot odour. So, simply getting your feet wet without proper cleaning is doing you a lot of harm. Make sure you thoroughly wash and dry your feet while paying special attention to the spaces between your toes.

Soaping up before you shampoo

To avoid skin issues like acne and skin irritation, follow this shower routine: start by shampooing your hair, and then rinse it off. Next, apply conditioner and wash it off. Lastly, end your shower by washing your body. By adhering to this sequence, you ensure that any residual conditioner and shampoo are effectively removed from your skin, which is often the culprit for angry skin. When it comes to shaving your body hair, leaving it as the last step of your routine means that your hair will be softened by the warmth, water and steam, making it a smoother and easier shave.

Avoid leaving bar soap in a wet dish

Germs can potentially exist on soap bars. If you have low immunity or a compromised immune system it’s often recommended to use liquid soap. If you prefer using a soap bar make sure you rinse it under running water before using it and store it to dry between uses, avoiding puddles of water.

Do no use scented or harsh soaps and scrubs

Scented soaps may smell like a garden of roses but it can end up leaving your skin feeling like that too (red, irritated and thorny), especially if you have sensitive skin. To maintain healthy skin, opt for fragrance-free, gentle products and avoid harsh exfoliants to prevent dryness and irritation.

Leaving your razor in the shower is a big NO

Similar to leaving soap in standing water, failing to allow your razor to thoroughly dry after each use creates an environment conducive to bacterial growth. The small (if damp) crevices on razors provide the perfect hiding spots for bacteria.  If you can’t keep your razor outside the shower, ensure it’s hung up for proper and complete air drying.

Do not dry yourself too roughly

Opt for a gentle patting motion to dry your skin versus harshly rubbing the towel against it. When drying your hair, experts recommend blotting it dry with a towel instead of rubbing or twisting it, as wet hair is most susceptible to breakage.

Make sure you change your towel frequently

Damp towels foster the growth of bacteria, yeasts, moulds and viruses, which when rubbed on your skin can potentially lead to skin infections and issues. To prevent this, experts recommend changing or washing your towel at least weekly or after every 3 to 4 uses. It’s important to ensure that your towel dries properly between uses by hanging it on a towel bar rather than a hook. Increase the frequency of washing your towel if you are sick or live in humid conditions.

Replace your sponge or loofah regularly

Loofahs are bacteria magnets due to their porous nature and ability to retain moisture. To keep them clean, hang them to dry after each use, soak it in a diluted bleach solution every week and replace your loofah often. Natural loofahs should be replaced every 3-4 weeks and plastic ones every 1-2 months. Immediately dispose of a loofah if it’s showing signs of mould or has a musty odour.

Do not use soap in all the wrong places

Soap isn’t a must when cleaning all your body parts. Reserve soap usage for your armpits, hands, legs, belly, back, feet and hands. Using warm water to clean your genitals is more than enough to prevent excessive dryness. Avoid using soap in your vaginal or penile area, as it may cause irritation and disrupt the natural bacterial balance of the region.

Washing your hair daily is not a good idea

Washing your hair daily can actually contribute to excessive oiliness, as it dries out the scalp, prompting it to produce more oil. Generally speaking, washing your hair a few times a week is more than sufficient. Cold water or a cold rinse after washing your hair is the perfect end to your in shower hair care routine.

It’s important to clean your showerhead or shower cubicle

Shower heads can harbour bacteria in their moist, dark crevices, potentially affecting the air you breathe when using the shower. Cleaning your shower head in boiling water and vinegar, or running hot water before showering can help minimise the growth of unwanted and damaging bacteria. Additionally, regularly cleaning or replacing your shower curtain is essential to prevent bacterial buildup.

Bathing too often can do more harm than good

While daily showers are common, excessive bathing can strip your skin of its essential oils and beneficial bacteria, potentially leading to dryness, itchiness and skin vulnerabilities.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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