A hot shower is one of life’s simple pleasures.
After a cold day, is there anything that feels better than letting the warmest water you’ll tolerate hitting your skin after the anticipation of expecting the showerhead to rain down that perfect temperature? And it’s especially gratifying if you’re sore from a troublesome workout, regardless of the weather outside. But as fantastic because it feels within the moment, a hot shower might be doing more harm than good when it involves your skin’s health.
Do you know how your fingers can look wrinkly when you’ve been in a hot shower for a while? She says it is a sign that the moisture has been stripped faraway from your skin.
But it isn’t just people with certain skin conditions who should avoid hot showers. Extended periods of time under hot water can have negative effects on otherwise healthy skin — and even hair. We chatted with experts to find out why such a common, everyday activity can have such a harsh impact and if there’s any hope for those of us who can’t imagine life without starting or ending the day in a steamy shower.
Which skin conditions are often worsened by a hot shower?
eczema, also referred to as atopic dermatitis, isn’t the sole condition which will be exacerbated by hot showers, consistent with Marchbein, who says psoriasis, acne, rosacea, and excessively dry skin can all be worsened by long, hot showers because they’re all characterized by skin-barrier repair defects.
“In general, dry skin is caused by an impaired skin barrier and dysfunction or deficiency within the necessary, healthy fats within the top layer of the skin — cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides — which are essential to normal skin function,” Marchbein says. And that dry skin can become a more serious issue with regular and extended exposure to hot water, which further strips away the protective lipid layer liable for keeping moisture in and bacteria and irritants out. “Those with extremely dry skin or who are genetically vulnerable to having sensitive skin can develop eczema, characterized by itchy, dry, pink patches.”
Can a hot shower hurt healthy skin?
Even if you don’t suffer from dry skin or any condition aggravated by hot water, a hot shower still isn’t doing your skin any favors. “While counterintuitive, showering for too long causes you to drier by stripping the ‘good’ oils from your skin.”
Furthermore, hot showers are an excellent thanks to becoming someone who does have dry skin, especially during the colder, drier winter months. “We are all more susceptible to itchy, dry skin because the humidity levels drop and therefore the hot water in showers — also as hot, dry air from radiators — draws moisture out of the skin.”
What about hair?
Although no proof rinsing your hair with cold water will make it shinier, that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and blast hot water on your head. Similarly to the skin on your face and body, hot water can strip necessary oils from the scalp, leading to inflammation and impeded hair growth. “Think of an inflamed scalp as trying to grow little plants in lava — almost impossible to own happy, healthy hair.”
And it’s not just the scalp you need to be concerned about. Too hot of a shower can directly affect the hair itself. “Hot water can be equally stripping for hair.”But also, if the water is too hot, it may prevent shampoo and conditioner from being fully rinsed, which can further affect hair quality and texture.
Are there any benefits to a hot shower?
“Just like cold baths are often helpful for recovery, hot showers can loosen you up, recognizes how relaxing they will be. But skin benefits? Not so much.
What’s the ideal shower temperature?
If keeping your skin happy, healthy, and hydrated is a top priority, lukewarm water is the way to go. If you absolutely must experience the occasional hot shower, keep it around five minutes long. “If the mirror is getting steamy, you’ll need to lower the temperature.”