Let’s talk about showers for a second. What isn’t there to love about them? They make a long day seem, well, less long. They cure sore muscles. And they give us an excuse to splurge on pretty bath products. They should never be complicated; to the contrary. You should be making the most of them, too. But because they’re one of those mundane, everyday tasks, we rarely consider the effect of water quality and temperature on our skin. So chances are you didn’t know each season carries certain expert-recommended guidelines with it.
But lo and behold: They exist! And since we have another six weeks of winter (if you believe in the groundhog theory) to look forward to, there’s no better time than now to make a few small changes. Ahead, one expert shares under-the-radar, shower-specific advice that could actually keep your skin from flaking as soon as it hits the cold air.
Morning or Night?
According to Ava Shamban, MD, Beverly Hills dermatologist and founder of SKINxFIVE, there are pros and cons to both times of day. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, and if you’re in a really cold spot, partial cleaning is also an option.
“Understanding the needs of your skin and what kind of work will determine the time,” she says. “Also, keep in mind that you can do partial showers, like top and tails if you’re oily or need to apply deodorant twice a day.”
Does Temperature Matter?
You probably think we’re crazy for recommending cooler showers in the winter, but if you have dry skin, it’s actually better because “you want to hold onto every bit of natural oil that you produce.” To the same point, K-beauty experts also recommend cold water for face cleansing since the chill can better protect open pores. The same concept can be applied to your hair, as cold water better seals the hair cuticle after shampooing.
To the contrary, Shamban says that “if you’re oily, it’s fine to use a warmer temperature. It will help the soap emulsify the grease.”
How to Dry and Moisturize
How you treat your skin immediately after a shower is just as important as how to treat it before you step out. With that being said, Shamban says that applying moisturizer to slightly damp skin helps seal in moisture best. If you’re extremely sensitive to cold air or simply want to save more time, keep a bottle of your favorite lotion or oil in the shower and apply it there after toweling off excess water.
And when you’re showering at the gym and don’t have the luxury of being able to take your time, get thoroughly dry immediately. Once you’ve applied your moisturizer, use a hair dryer over your body to ensure that your skin won’t be too moist or wet before you leave. Walking outside covered in sweat or moisture could eventually lead to a cold or worse, the flu.
As for the type of moisturizer you should use, Shamban recommends layering oils and lotions during the winter season, with oils being applied first.
This combined with the right-temperature shower will keep dryness at bay. However, if you’re dealing with something a bit more severe, such as eczema or psoriasis, consult with a dermatologist for more stronger and more effective formulas.