Spray. Soap. Scrub. Sluice. Towel dry. What’s not to know about how to shower? Quite a lot, apparently. The length of time you spend in the shower, your favored water temperature, and the bath products you use – all these factors can affect skin health. Read on to find out how you can get more out of your daily shower!
1. Turn Down The Heat
Let’s start with the temperature. Forget those dreamy ads showing towel-wrapped models surrounded by clouds of steam! Hot water, says the American Academy of Dermatology, strips natural oils, leaving your skin parched. This applies even more in winter when the weather is drier than usual and your skin struggles to retain moisture.Lukewarm water, therefore, is best for your skin.1
2. Long And Frequent Showers Are Not What The Doctor Ordered
Long, hot showers are a divine temptation in cold weather, but are they worth the consequences? Along with hot water, longer showers and frequent showering more than once a day have been found to be common triggers for eczema, more so in winter, so restrict your shower time to not more than 10 minutes.2 Rinse your skin thoroughly to ensure no soap or cleanser remains on your skin.
Towel off gently after showering and immediately apply a moisturizer to lock in residual water on your skin. Creams or moisturizers work better than lotions, say experts.3 Coconut oil or olive oil should work well as moisturizers too.4
3. Pay Attention To The Ayurvedic Take On Bathing
Occasionally, it’s tempting to skip our daily shower. It could be chilly weather, an early flight to catch, or oversleeping on a busy weekday. The ancients, though, have a different take on daily bathing. Classical ayurvedic texts maintain that bathing regularly, at least once a day, has manifold benefits which go beyond mere skin cleansing. Here’s a quick run-down on how it boosts health and energy:
- Clears sleepiness and fatigue.
- Improves circulation.
- Opens up the pores and eliminates toxins.
- Reduces blood pressure.
- Eases muscle aches.
- Induces calmness and relaxation.
- Promotes a youthful appearance.5
Want more? Regular bathing also “gives strength, increases appetite, invigorates [the] digestive process, nourishes body, enhances lifespan, ojas (vitality) and semen and cheers the mind.”6
Experts at the Art of Living campus, India, advocate using cold water while bathing in summer as this is thought to improve vision and stimulate digestion. According to ayurvedic principles, it’s best not to bathe soon after a meal as this draws away body heat from the digestive organs where it’s needed most.7
4. When It Comes To Soap, Less Is More
While supermarket shelves stock a confusingly large variety of bath products, bear in mind that visually tempting labels, colors, and fragrances are not what your skin needs to keep it healthy and supple. If your soap or cleanser lathers profusely, that means it contains surfactants, chemicals that bind water with oil and bubble over (just like in the movies!). The unglamorous truth is they’re stripping your skin of its natural oils, which is why your skin feels stretched and dry after toweling off.8
According to dermatologists, the wise option is to use non-perfumed, mild soaps or soap-free cleansers (with moisturizer if you suffer from dry skin). Stay away from deodorant soaps or alcohol-based products. Neither do you require a washcloth, sponge or scrub brush to get squeaky clean – if you really must use these, do so very gently on your skin.9
id="a-make-at-home-ayurvedic-homestyle-cleanser">5. Make This Ayurvedic Cleanser For Showering
Want to try something natural instead of a chemical-laden bodywash? Ayurveda’s got your back! Ayurveda recommends the use of “ubtan,” natural, homemade preparation that makes for an excellent skin cleanser. Here’s one recipe using ingredients stocked in most Indian grocery stores:
- Chickpea flour: 2 tbsp
- Sandalwood powder: 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
- Camphor: a pinch
Combine all ingredients with a little water to make a paste and gently rub in all over the body before rinsing off.10
6. Shower At Night To Sleep Like A Baby
While a morning shower is arguably the best way to perk up for a busy day, there’s evidence that a shower at night is a great way to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep scientist Jessa Gamble11 cites research which indicates that body temperature drops naturally toward bedtime, a signal to the body to power down all systems.
Typically, though, people tend to stay up longer than they should, which means that body temperature keeps dropping, a reason why we don’t fall asleep for a length of time after getting into bed. This is where a warm shower can kick in, bringing the body to just the right level of warmth and relaxation you need for slipping into a sound, relaxing sleep. Scientists call this effect “fluffing the physiological pillow”!12
id="keeping-your-shower-clean">7. Keep Your Shower Clean
Warm water and soap will cleanse your body of germs, but what about the shower area itself? This is where bugs are likely to lurk and proliferate. Here are a couple of tips to keep your shower squeaky clean:
Clean and change your shower curtain regularly: Residual soapy water on your shower curtain makes a happy home for mold and bacteria. Clean the curtain frequently with hot water and bleaching agent and replace it approximately once in six months or longer, depending on its condition.
Flush out the bacteria: Before stepping into the shower area, allow the water to run (just) for 30 seconds. Bugs that have accumulated in the showerhead will be thrown out with the water. If your shower head is plastic, consider replacing it with a metal one as plastic is more amenable to bacteria.13
8. Conserve Water
Let’s face it, as rejuvenating as they are, showers also use up an extraordinary amount of water – about 50 gallons per shower!14 A simple tip to reduce wastage – and lower those guilt pangs – is to have a bucket handy. Place this beneath your shower while adjusting water temperature. The stored water will come in handy for a host of needs – to brush your teeth, water indoor plants, and quickly sluice the shower area after you’re done bathing!
|↑1||Dry Skin. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑2||Arnold, H. LOdom, and W. D. RB James. Andrews diseases of the skin: clinical dermatology. Elsevier Health Sciences, 1990.|
|↑3||Dry Skin Relief. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑4||Lio, Peter A., Toral Patel, Neill Peters, and Sarah Kasprowicz. Handbook of Integrative Dermatology: An Evidence-Based Approach. Springer, 2015.|
|↑5||Samal, Janmejaya. “Fundamental Tenets of Personal Hygiene and Health Promotion in Ayurveda.” IAM J 1, no. 3 (2013): 1-6.|
|↑6||Kapur, Malavika. “Basic Principles of Ayurveda.” In Psychological Perspectives on Childcare in Indian Indigenous Health Systems, pp. 15-29. Springer India, 2016.|
|↑7||Shower yourself. The Art Of Living.|
|↑8||Ananthapadmanabhan, K. P., David J. Moore, Kumar Subramanyan, Manoj Misra, and Frank Meyer. “Cleansing without compromise: the impact of cleansers on the skin barrier and the technology of mild cleansing.” Dermatologic Therapy 17, no. s1 (2004): 16-25.|
|↑9||9 Ways To Banish Dry Skin. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑10||Shower yourself. The Art Of Living.|
|↑11||8 Ways Showering At Night Could Help Improve Your Sleep. The Huffington Post.|
|↑12||Campbell, Scott S., and Roger J. Broughton. “Rapid decline in body temperature before sleep: fluffing the physiological pillow?.” Chronobiology international 11, no. 2 (1994): 126-131.|
|↑13||Shower water and bacteria?. Columbia University.|
|↑14||Water Questions & Answers“Water Questions & Answers.”The USGS Water Science School.|