Are you showering properly? There’s more to a daily wash than you think

Remember when Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher said they only wash their children if they ‘see dirt on them’, before Ashton admitting he washes his crotch and armpits, but ‘nothing else, ever’?

Charlize Theron has openly admitted that she’d be ‘fine’ going a week without a shower, and Kristin Bell once said ‘I’m a big fan of waiting for the stink’.

shower tips

Obviously not washing at all can lead to real problems, but did you know that so can showering too much? So how often should we be showering? And when we do, how do we know we’re doing it properly?

Shower less

It might surprise you to hear that some people are showering too frequently. The main issue is overcleaning, which can strip the skin of its natural oils, but the length of our showers, when we have them and how we use products are all important too.

Skin is clever: it cleans itself and keeps itself healthy by generating a layer of natural oils on the surface. If you shower too frequently you will disrupt the skin’s natural PH balance and strip it of its natural protection.

One shower a day is more than enough to keep you clean. so if you’re heading to the gym after work, don’t shower in the morning as well.

Think about timings

A shower in the morning wakes you up and gets you ready for the day, but skincare experts suggest that the best time to shower for skin is at night, followed by a good skincare routine.

Cosmetic doctor Dr Rekha Tailor of Health & Aesthetics says: ‘It’s believed that showering in the evening is better for your skin health for a number of reasons, because it cleans the skin before you go to sleep.

‘In doing this it removes the dirt from the air which includes germs, pollution and dust which can gather during the day, as well as sweat which accumulates. By showering at night you are cleansing your skin of these before you go to sleep, thus enabling it to properly regenerate overnight.’

By going to bed with clean skin you will limit the opportunity for pores to become clogged as this rejuvenation process happens.

Try seasonal showering

You can adapt your shower routine with the seasons too – otherwise known as ‘seasonal showering.’ Winter months are more harsh on the skin, and over-washing can further strip it of natural oils, which can lead to already dry skin becoming flaky and itchy. Couple this with exposure to changes in temperature, going from very cold outside to warm central heating or getting out of a hot shower into a cold room and it’s a recipe for disaster for skin.

In summer, you may need to shower more frequently as the temperature rises, especially if you’re exercising or have an active job. If you suffer from hay fever, then a shower before bedtime will help to rinse off any pollen residue.

Focus on ingredients

shower tips

Just as you would with food, you need to check what’s in the products you use on the skin.

Look out for natural products that are fragranced with essential oils rather than harsh chemicals. PH levels are important too, the epidermis has a PH level of 5.5 so find something as close to that as possible and you won’t go far wrong.

Use soaps that enrich your skin and protect your natural skin barrier. And it doesn’t have to be shower gel. Bar soaps are making a real comeback and no longer fit the stereotype of being drying and harsh on the skin.

Wash only where it’s needed

There was shock when Ashton Kutcher admitted that he just uses soap and water on his “armpits and crotch daily,” but “nothing else ever,” but some skin experts agree and advise only washing areas of the body that really need it.

For people that suffer with acne on their backs and other areas of the body, the worst thing you can do is dry these areas out by over-cleansing. It is counterproductive as the body over-compensates and makes more oil. But if you’re hitting the gym every day, common sense should prevail – you know if you’re starting to smell!

Scrub up – gently!

Exfoliating two to three times a week can help to remove the build-up of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, but ‘scrubbing’ should be most definitely off the agenda. When exfoliating, try to use something gentle and natural rather than an abrasive surface. Work across the skin in large circular movements and work towards your heart to encourage detoxification.

If you don’t want to splash out on fancy products then finely ground sugar, coffee grounds, finely ground almonds, oatmeal, and finely ground sea salt will all exfoliate without being too harsh on the skin.

Pick your temperature

Fearne Cotton swears by cold showers, which can help with circulation and muscle recovery, where hot showers are thought to relax the muscles and open pores. But solely looking at skincare, a warm shower is best.

Hot water can strip the protective oil that your skin needs, so around 36°C is the ideal temperature for it to not to be harsh on the skin. As a rule of thumb, if your skin is turning red it’s time to turn the heat down.

Set the timer

shower tips

Standing in the shower might be the only moment’s peace you get all day, but there are many reasons why shorter showers are better. It’s not just better for your skin, it also saves water and reduces bills if you’re on a meter.

Five to ten minutes is ample time to clean what needs to be cleaned and perhaps have a few minutes to spend daydreaming, waking yourself up or letting the day go if you’re showering at night.

Pop an egg timer into the bathroom to keep you in check, or pick two songs you love and promise to turn off the tap when they finish. Just don’t choose Bohemian Rhapsody on repeat.

To dry or not to dry?

Applying moisturiser to damp skin can lock in moisture, so there are benefits to not drying your skin fully. LA-based dermatologist Lisa Chipps says: ‘After bathing, blot – don’t scrub – your skin dry and apply a gentle moisturiser to any areas that are prone to dry skin.’ But always ensure intimate areas are dried fully otherwise you could be prone to infections.

Replace essential oils post shower

Moisturise your skin after showering with something like ARRAN Sense of Scotland’s Imachar Body Lotion which uses shea butter, coconut oil and aloe vera for a formula that glides across the skin and is absorbed immediately.