In the winter, there’s almost nothing more blissful than zoning out in a steaming hot shower, as high as the temperature goes until you literally run out of hot water. When the weather gets colder, our showers get hotter, and longer, and though it’s a really tempting habit to get into, it’s also pretty darn bad for your skin. Keep reading for the truth about your hot shower, and why you’re going to want to dial back the heat over the next few months if you want to save your skin.
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but excessively hot water strips the skin of its natural oils, explains dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, Co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C. “It’s very drying and increases wintertime itch,” says Tanzi.
Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas says she sees firsthand that a big mistake people make with their skin in the winter is showering with water that is simply too hot. “Extreme temperatures of any kind on the skin can throw off its delicate balances, and showering in too-hot water can lead to dry patches and uncomfortably dehydrated skin.”
Because skin is already prone to dryness during winter, due to extreme temperatures and the dry, forced-air heat we blast it with from central heating units, a nightly hot shower on top of it is a recipe for irritated, cracked, uncomfortable skin on our faces and bodies.
In addition to limiting the amount of time you shower (keep it under five minutes) and using a moisturizing body wash instead of soap, Tanzi recommends lukewarm water—“nothing so hot “that you have to ‘get used to it,’ or that the skin turns red,” she advises. “Another critical step is to moisturize the skin within three minutes of getting out of the bath or shower, to lock the water into the skin,” she says.
Vargas, who is one of the most sought-after skincare experts in Hollywood, has a winter skincare tip she learned when her son had eczema as a baby. “To this day, it is my family secret for healing dry, sensitive skin. Boil a large pot of water with one cup of chamomile tea leaves and one cup of rosemary. Cook these for fifteen minutes. Then strain and add this water to your bath. Not only will you feel relaxed from your day, this potion will soothe your skin like nothing else. Dry patches and redness will disappear overnight!” she says.
Lucky for us, Vargas also revealed a super easy DIY at-home mask recipe for dry winter skin. “The yogurt in this hydrating mask is an anti-inflammatory with a lactic acid component. Avocado is something I recommend for any skin type – avocado has lots of B vitamins and fatty acids, so it’s essential to keeping the skin hydrated, even in dry winter weather. The honey also hydrates, and will really transform the skin,” she says.
1/2 cup yogurt
Leave on the skin for 20 minutes, then rinse.
Are you guilty of taking hot, long showers during the winter? Will you be changing your routine after reading this? Sound off in the comments below!