9 Ways You’re Probably Showering Wrong in the Winter
You shampoo, condition, and body wash as always—what’s the problem? A lot, it turns out, according to dermatologists. Read on for the top winter showering don’ts, and what to do instead.
Mistake #1: Taking long, hot showers
After traversing the frosty tundra, there’s nothing that warms you up quite like a steamy shower. But it comes at a cost. “Taking too long of a shower can dry out our skin and lead to itchiness,” says board certified dermatologist says Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, and President and Co-Founder of Modern Dermatology. Try to limit your shower time to five to seven minutes and keep the temperature below 99 degrees. Anything higher can strip skin of its essential moisture and deplete the natural protective barrier of your skin, which can lead to impairments in skin’s moisture. This is the healthiest temperature for your shower, according to science.
Mistake #2: Showering too often
It’s no secret that freezing temps and cold wind can take a toll on your skin, but so can showering too often! “Overshowering can lead to dryness, redness, and irritation of the skin, and even precipitate skin conditions such as eczema,” Dr. Robinson explains. Based on your activity level, showering every day may be overkill. For the average adult, showering every other day is sufficient to cleanse the skin withhout stripping away skin’s natural moisture. Here’s more inspiration for cutting back on your showers (including that it will help preserve your hair color!).
Mistake #3: Using the wrong cleanser
Ditch the bar soap! “Traditional bar soaps can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness,” says Dr. Robinson. Instead, opt for a rich, soap-free formula, such as Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash or Yuni Concentrated Body Cleansing Creme. For an extra moisturizing dose, finish with a in-shower lotion like Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer that you apply and rinse off in the shower.
Mistake #4: Lazy shaving
Maybe you shave less in the winter—we won’t tell. But when you do, don’t forget to gently exfoliate first. Not only can a buildup of dead skin lead to a dry, less smooth apperance to your legs, but it can also trigger ingrown hairs and irritation, according to Dr. Robinson. She also warns against dry shaving. For starters, you want to shave in a warm environment (like the shower) to open your pores for a closer, smoother result. You also want to use an emollient shaving cream. “The good news is that shaving creams are soothing and many can help the shaving process,” explains board certified dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder of Capital Laser & Skin Care. If you have sensitive skin, Dr. Tanzi suggests a nourishing formula with oatmeal, such as Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel. Lastly, be sure to change your razor blade after a few uses to keep bacteria at bay and prevent the nicks you’re more likely to get from a dull blade. The Venus & Olay Razor has built in moisturizing strips to soothe skin with every stroke.
Mistake #5: Washing hair too frequently
Like the body, hair does not need to be washed every day. Instead, Dr. Robinson recommends opting for an every other to every third day regimen of shampooing and conditioning. Here’s how to choose the best shampoo for your hair type. If oily roots are a problem, use a little dry shampoo for a cleaner coif in seconds. Here’s what you need to know about using dry shampoo.
Mistake #6: Shampooing too vigorously
“Oil is produced from the scalp around the roots of our hair, so concentrate shampoo on the scalp to about mid hair shaft,” says Dr. Robinson. And while you definitely want to give your scalp a good thorough scrub, you needn’t scour it like a dirt ring around a bathtub. Digging in so hard that you scratch your scalp is definitely not smart—it can cause irritation, inflammation, and even bleeding, along with the risk of infection. These healthy-hair tips will add shine, fight frizz, and prevent damage.
Mistake #7: Skipping conditioner
Lack of humidity in winter not only dries out your skin, but it can suck moisture from your strands too. “It’s important to increase the moisture factor of your shampoo and conditioner in the winter to help reduce static and flyaways,” says Dr. Tanzi. The ends of your hair receive the least amount of natural oil, which travels down from the scalp, so they need the most hydration. Dr Robinson recommends concentrating conditioner at those dry tips. And if your strands are feeling super parched, try adding a weekly nourishing treatment, such as Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask, or Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask for deep conditioning, into your routine. (Don’t miss the myths about hair you need to stop believing).
Mistake #8: Drying off too roughly
Again, this is your body—not a grimy bathtub, so you don’t want to dry yourself so roughly that you actually damage your skin. Dr. Tanzi recommends patting yourself dry with a soft towel, rather than rubbing vigorously—otherwise you risk irritation and over-exfoliation. Don’t forget to moisturize right after toweling off to lock in hydration (more about that next). Check out the derm-approved tricks to keep your hands soft all winter long.
Mistake #9: Moisturizing wrong
Frequent showering combined with winter weather can lead to dryness or xerosis, which can compromise the skin’s barrier function, leading to overly sensitive skin and exacerbating skin conditions such as eczema. The solution, according to Dr. Robinson, is to use a ceramide-based moisturizer, such as Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream or CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, which actually repairs the skin’s natural barrier. The best time to moisturize skin is right after you shower, when skin is still damp. “Periodic application throughout the day is helpful too, but the most important application is after cleansing,” says Dr. Tanzi. And when it comes to how much moisturizer you need for your entire body, she recommends a shot glass full—the same as SPF. Here’s how moisturizer ingredients work.