Sorry to tell you this, but you may have spent your entire life showering the wrong way. While your first instinct may be to brush this off as nonsense— since you get in the shower dirty and come out clean—hear us out.
For instance, if your shower is too hot or too long, you could be damaging your hair and drying out your skin. Hot water can strip hair of oils and remove much-needed moisture leaving you dried out and in desperate need of a conditioning mask. No need to suffer through an ice bath, though, instead experts recommend that a shower that is about the temperature of a heated swimming pool. Of course, no judgement if you occasionally blast yourself with steaming hot water, just be aware of what you’re doing.
Next culprit on the list? Showering too often. Unless you work out or get sweaty (not that Southern women sweat, of course) you really only need to shower a few times a week. Over-bathing can strip your skin of its natural oils, and may disrupt the skin’s natural immune system-supporting bacteria. Showering too often may even raise your risk for some health issues, TIME reports, because dry, cracked skin can allow infection-causing germs in. If the idea of skipping a shower in the morning has you clutching your pearls in horror, try shortening the amount of time you spend in the shower and going easy on the soap and hot water. While you are in the shower, be sure to thoroughly rinse off all soap and hair product, because residue can lead to skin irritation and clogged pores, which can cause acne.
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Other mistakes people make in the shower? Not washing the loofah, shower pouf, or washcloth after use. “Damp fabrics are a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus, and mold,” Joshua Zeichner, M.D., told Self. That’s why it’s important to throw your washcloth in the laundry after each use. Same goes for your loofah and pouf. If they don’t fully dry out between uses and are washed or bleached regularly, you risk washing yourself with a bacterial breeding ground. (And don’t even get us started on those poor rubber duckies.)
One other way people shower incorrectly is by skipping moisturizer. Scientific studies have shown that moisturizing immediately after bathing dramatically improves hydration when compared to delaying moisturizing or skipping it all together.
Similarly, you probably only need to wash your hair 2-3 times per week. That’s because shampoo can do as much harm as it does good. Shampoos frequently strip the natural oil from the hair, leaving strands brittle and dry. Try washing your hair every other day to see the effect on your locks and you may be surprised. When you do use shampoo, look for ones that include ingredients, that will treat your scalp kindly. After all that shampoo isn’t just going on your hair. Speaking of which, RD.com suggests conditioning your scalp, because conditioner hydrates it, which can help prevent itchiness and flaking, which is always a good thing.