Taking long, hot showers
We don’t blame you for wanting to turn up the temperature dial in your shower as hot as you can handle, but this seemingly harmless act of self-pampering will quickly leave you with dry skin. “Excessive exposure to water, especially hot water, can strip the skin of natural oils and disrupt the skin barrier,” explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Instead, keep showers short—down to ten minutes or less—and temperatures no higher than 84° F, or the temperature of most heated pools. Here are all the ways to keep your shower from ruining your skin.
Washing with harsh soap
You might think your average bar of soap is good enough to cleanse your skin, but you may be mistaken, especially if it contains harsh detergents and chemicals (who knew a bar of soap could be so intense?). “Traditional bar soaps use harsh cleansing ingredients called surfactants that have an alkaline pH,” explains Dr. Zeichner. “Alkaline products can disrupt the outer skin layer and prevent the skin from protecting itself properly causing dryness and irritation.” A gentle, unscented soap, like Dove or Aveeno, is a much better match for the slightly acidic pH of your skin and will fully cleanse without compromising the integrity of the skin, Dr. Zeichner adds.