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Showering is—and should be—a daily habit for most of us, and everyone has their own routine. Some people can’t live without washing their hair each day while others choose to skip a day or two, and the differences continue on from there.
However, did you know that some of the most common shower habits might not actually be that healthy? Believe it or not, some of the things you do every day while taking a shower could be affecting you in ways you’ve never thought of.
Check out this list to see if your shower habits are doing you more harm than good.
1. Washing Your Face
Without a doubt, it’s easier and less messy to wash your face when you’re already in the shower. However, despite the convenience, it’s actually not good for your face. The water that you shower in will typically be much hotter than what you’d wash with at the sink, and the high temperature can make your skin dry out very quickly.
Those with skin conditions such as acne or rosacea may also find that washing their face with hot water can cause excessive redness and irritation—it could even burst a blood vessel in your face if you wash too aggressively. Use a gentle cleanser and avoid washing your face in the shower, particularly if you have acne-prone skin or rosacea.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends limiting face washing to two times a day, or as soon as possible after sweating, to prevent irritation of the skin. If you are going to wash your face in the shower, turn the temperature down to lukewarm and wash only with your fingertips (anything else is too rough), using a non-abrasive cleanser that doesn’t contain alcohol, like CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser for Daily Face Washing. (Get the formula for normal to oily skin, as their dry-to-normal formula contains alcohol.)CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, $13.29 from Amazon
The AAD also recommends applying moisturizer if your skin is dry or itchy. Give this Christina Moss Naturals facial moisturizer a try. The alcohol-free formula is good whether you have fine lines, patchy texture, normal, dry, oily, acne-prone, or sensitive skin, and it’s made with no harmful chemicals.Christina Moss Naturals Facial Moisturizer, $25.99 from Amazon
2. Not Washing Your Feet
You might be thinking that your feet make contact with plenty of water while you’re in the shower, so there’s no real reason to actually bend down and give them a proper wash. You’d be wrong, though.
Even if you’re not prone to smelly feet, think about how sweaty your feet can get throughout the day. Not only that, but if you’re known to walk around the house or outdoors without socks or shoes, you never know what you might be picking up along the way.
There’s no excuse for just letting the soap suds run down to your toes anymore—imagine what you’re bringing into your bed every night without giving those feet a good wash.
If you do struggle with funky dogs, consider giving them a regular soak in something like this Tea Tree Oil Therapeutic Foot Soak from Purely Northwest to help with odor as well as with calluses and thick, discolored toenails.Purely Northwest Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak, $13.16 from Amazon
3. Not Washing or Replacing Your Loofah Regularly
Be honest, how long has the same loofah been hanging in your shower? Months? YEARS? As it turns out, that can be terrible for your health. This video demonstrates why:
Alternatively, nix the loofahs and sponges altogether and invest in a good set of washcloths, like this 100 percent–cotton AmazonBasics set of 24. You can use a new one every time and, once the week is up, put all your towels through a wash cycle using hot water to ensure that all the bacteria has been eliminated.AmazonBasics Cotton Washcloths, $15.99 from Amazon
4. Using a Soap Dish
Yes, that built-in soap dish is there forever, but using it for its intended purpose actually isn’t that good of an idea. The majority of people don’t use bars of soap these days but, for those who do, be aware that leaving a bar of soap in one spot could be encouraging bacteria to grow on it—bacteria that you’re then going to spread over your entire body the next time you lather up.
If you have reasons for resisting the switch to liquid body wash, try finding a wire soap dish like this stainless steel, vacuum-suction soap dish from iPEGTOP (or one that has holes in the bottom) so any remaining water can drain away once you’re out of the shower.iPEGTOP Soap Dish, $10.99 from Amazon
5. Using Scented Soaps
Yes, those soaps that make your bathroom smell like a tropical rainforest or a freshly-made vanilla cupcake do transport you to a place of olfactory luxury while sudsing up, but those very fragrances could be doing a number on your skin at the same time.
Anyone who notices their skin seems particularly irritated after a shower should look to their soap as the first culprit. Fragrances can irritate sensitive skin very easily, so it’s best to use something unscented to keep your skin in the best shape. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the scent of your soap mixing with the scent of your perfume to create “questionable” smells.
Try this Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap, which is Fair Trade certified, made with organic oils, and fragrance-free.Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap, $15.99 from Amazon
6. Showering in Hard Water
Some people may not even know how to tell if their water is considered hard, but figuring it out and taking steps to adjust it could save your hair and skin from a lot of damage.
Hard water is defined by its high concentration of minerals like magnesium and calcium, which can end up making your skin break out or cause a layer of buildup on your hair. Those with dyed hair may even find that hard water strips the color out of their strands, or at least causes their tint to fade a little quicker.
If you’re unable to add a water softener to your shower, try incorporating a clarifying shampoo into your routine to remove any buildup caused by those pesky minerals.Kenra Clarifying Shampoo, $11.25 from Amazon
7. Avoiding Cold Showers
Most people wouldn’t even dream of standing in cold water for more than a second, let alone taking an entire shower in water that’s anything less than steaming hot.
Still, cold water showers can actually be really beneficial for your skin and hair, and you only need 30 seconds under a cold stream to see a difference. A quick blast of cold water is said to improve your immune function, increase your metabolism, and increase the amount of stress you can tolerate.
In addition to speeding up your metabolism, a study done in 2009 suggests that regularly taking a cold shower could even help you lose weight over time.
8. Using Old Razors
For most of us, old razors aren’t something we thoughtfully replace on a regular basis. Instead, they just sit in the shower until we finally cave and get a new one. Razors, whether you’re buying replacement heads or the kind that are entirely disposable, are surprisingly expensive—so why throw one out after a certain period of time if it still seems to work?
Well, just because a razor is shaving off your unwanted hairs doesn’t mean it’s doing so effectively. If you notice that your skin gets red and inflamed after you shave, it’s because the blades are dull and it’s time for a replacement.
Maybe this Preserve Shave 5 refillable razor made with recycled materials and an ergonomic handle will do the trick.Preserve Shave 5 Razor, $9.81 from Amazon
9. Leaving Your Razor in the Shower
Remember how leaving your wet bar of soap in your dingy old soap dish makes it a breeding ground for bacteria? The same thing goes for your razor. There are plenty of nooks and crannies in your razor that make perfect spots for bacteria to hide, and the problem will only get worse when the razor is sitting in a warm, wet environment.
If you don’t actually want to store your razor outside of the shower, at least make sure that you hang it up when you’re done using it so it can air dry.
That’s an easy fix. Just get something like this OXO Good Grips suction razor holder, with a PVC-free suction cup and a hook that flexes to fit a variety of razor handle sizes.OXO Good Grips Suction Razor Holder, $7.99 from Amazon
Giving your skin a gentle scrub every now and then is a good idea, but doing so every day could actually be causing damage. For anyone who doesn’t know, your skin actually exfoliates itself by renewing every 27 days or so.
Anyone who chooses to exfoliate their skin every day is aggressively going after fresh skin cells, which can make your skin red and irritated as a result. It’s best to let some dead cells build up on the surface of your skin before reaching for your favorite scrub so that, you know, there’s actually something there worth exfoliating.
When you do decide to scrub—after waiting an appropriate amount of time, of course—feel free to use this microdermabrasion face scrub and mask from Era Organics, made with manuka honey and walnut. The product claims to remove blackheads, minimize pores, buff away dull skin, and moisturize.Era Organics Manuka Honey Walnut Scrub & Mask, $17.87 from Amazon
11. Washing Your Hair Daily
If you notice that your hair always looks damaged and feels dry no matter what you do, it’s likely that your shower water is too hot and you’re washing your hair way too often. Unless you’re someone who likes to work out every single day, you really only need to wash your hair a few times a week at most—and those with curly or extremely coarse hair should try to cut that down to once a week.
For anyone who says that their hair is too oily to go without a daily wash, it could be the daily washing that’s causing that greasy sheen. Washing too often dries out your scalp, which makes it produce more oil to compensate. If you want to start shampooing less often, try using dry shampoo on your roots every other day. One of our favorites is Living Proof Dry Shampoo, which eliminates oil, sweat, and odor without the use of silicone. Have color- or chemically-treated hair? Don’t worry! This is safe for you to use.Living Proof Dry Shampoo, $17.96 from Amazon
12. Skipping Your Shower Post-Workout
If you like to work out late at night or in the morning before you head off to work, you may decide that you’re too tired or pressed for time to squeeze a shower in. However, working up a sweat can leave bacteria on your skin that will get trapped against you if you choose not to rinse it off afterward.
This could lead to a skin infection or, at the very least, some minor irritation or redness. Not to mention that you’d be going to bed or heading to work a sweaty, stinky mess.
Remember, just because you can’t smell you doesn’t mean others can’t smell you. At very least, take some time to wipe that sweat off with a clean washcloth or hand towel, or, better yet, just change your clothes. Throw some body wipes in your gym bag for a quick refresh on-the-go.
You might also consider carrying in your gym bag some Welmedix HomeCare PRO No-Rinse Cleansing Foam, formulated for the delicate skin of elderly people. The cleanser is pH-balanced and removes odor-causing bacteria anywhere on the body without stripping skin of its natural oils.HomeCare PRO No-Rinse Cleansing Foam, $24.99 from Amazon
Apply this with disposable washcloths, like Member’s Mark Adult Premium Disposable Washcloths, which are alcohol- and latex-free and contain a nourishing formula made of natural botanicals, vitamin E, aloe, and chamomile for an irritation-free application. At 12 by 8 inches, these extra-large cloths will take care of your whole body.Member’s Mark Disposable Washcloths, $27.43 from Amazon
13. Reusing Dirty Towels
The logic seems solid: If you only use your towel when your body’s clean, how could it possibly get dirty?
This isn’t exactly the case, though. Yes, it’s alright to use your towel two to three times before you finally give it a wash, but that’s only if you hang it up to air dry after every single use. Just like your loofah, dead skin cells can cling to your towel and, when you don’t let it dry properly, there’s a big risk for bacterial growth.
Using the same towel for a week or more at a time could mean putting yourself at risk for bacterial skin infections—plus, they can eventually start to smell pretty bad.
14. Rubbing Towels on Your Skin and Hair
We can guess with relative confidence that you reach for your towel right after getting done with your shower, but there are a couple of different ways that people towel off.
Some choose to just wrap their towel around themselves and wait to air dry while doing other things—putting in contacts, applying moisturizer, brushing their teeth—while others immediately start to wipe that water away.
As it turns out, rubbing a towel against your skin isn’t the best thing for it, and dermatologists actually recommend that you use a patting motion to dry your skin. For anyone with long hair who likes to wrap their towel around their head like a cocoon, know that doing so could be damaging your locks, as well. Instead, use a microfiber hair turban and a wet brush to protect your hair from damage.
This turban is made of lightweight Aquitex microfiber, which will trap moisture in your hair while drying it gently in a way that minimizes frizz. Give that hair-frying hair dryer a rest!Aquis Microfiber Hair Turban, $20.99 from Amazon
For keeping your luscious locks free of hair tumbleweeds, you’ll want something like this Wet Brush Pro Detangle Hair Brush, which is ergonomically designed to give you a comfortable grip while you’re pulling away at those knots, wet or dry—whether they’re in a wig or extensions or hair growing from your scalp.Wet Brush Pro Detangle Hair Brush, $7.95 from Amazon
15. Skipping the Moisturizer
It can be pretty tempting to go lounge around after you’ve gotten out of the shower, and it’s easy to get sucked into things like reading a book or watching television before you finally start to get ready. However, you’re doing your skin a disservice if you don’t apply some moisturizer right when you get out of the shower.
Moisturizer is absorbed just a little bit better when your skin is nice and warm, and you’ll also want to replenish any moisture your skin lost from being in that hot water. Also, just like you shouldn’t be rubbing a towel on your body, don’t scour your face when drying it, either.
Puracy Organic Hand & Body Lotion, made with organic shea butter and vitamin E, is a vegan, fragrance-free moisturizer that’s also free from silicones, parabens, dyes, phthalates, formaldehyde, PEG, petrochemicals, and nut-based ingredients. Your parched, sensitive skin will eat it up.Puracy Organic Hand & Body Lotion, $13.29 from Amazon
16. Bathing in a Dirty Tub
Alright, so a bath definitely isn’t the same as a shower, but we have a reminder for those of you out there that take them.
Clean your bathtub every once in a while!
It’s a chore that few like doing, but it’s an important one. If you’re going to be sitting in a tub full of water for any period of time, you want to make sure that there’s nothing mixing in with your soak that you haven’t added intentionally.
This is especially true if you share a bathroom with other people—you might like your roommates, but you don’t really know what they could’ve tracked into the tub.