There are generally two types of showers: the speedy shower (a less-than-four-minute wash of only the essentials) and the relaxing shower (a leisurely break from reality where hot water rushes down on you until your mind is clear and your fingers are prune-y). We’re all familiar with both varieties, but there’s a third alternative that only a select subset of the population ever practices—the strategic shower. As beauty editors who have spent years collecting little nuggets of hair-beautifying and skin-perfecting knowledge, we know a thing or two. Intrigued? Flip through the slideshow to learn how showering like a beauty editor will put you on the path toward better skin and healthier hair!
A shower for a beauty editor begins before the water starts running. Make a point to start your routine by brushing your hair and your body. Brushing your hair distributes the scalp’s natural oils to condition and balance your hair, and it removes tangles while hair is still dry— important because wet strands are more susceptible to breakage. Then use a dry brush to exfoliate your body and get blood flowing to the skin before you hop in.
Sorry shower lovers, but daily bathing actually does more harm than good. To maintain your skin’s pH balance, skip a shower here and there—and turn down the temperature. Super steamy showers may feel nice, but they’re not doing your skin any favors. Avoid over-drying by keeping the water tepid, and stay in for less than 10 minutes. Lukewarm water is still warm enough to open up your pores and the hair’s cuticles, but it won’t strip away the natural oils.
Start your shower with a thorough rinse to loosen dirt and oil, and then shampoo with a quarter-sized dollop of product—seriously, that’s all you need. If your lather feels lacking, add more water (not more shampoo) to work up the suds. Be sure to get the roots and the hairline all the way around. The back of the neck is an often-overlooked spot, but it’s actually where most of your hair’s oil collects. No need to lather the lengths, simply smooth the suds down as you rinse.
Then squeeze out the excess water (don’t wring), and condition just the lower half of your ponytail. Fight the urge to rake through tangles with conditioner. Wet hair is fragile and those knots will come out a lot easier outside of the shower.
Always wait to wash your body until after you’ve thoroughly rinsed away all shampoo and conditioner. This way, you’ll remove all pore-clogging product residue to ensure your back and shoulders remain breakout-free. When it comes time to wash, stick with hydrating cleansers and avoid traditional soaps. Anything antibacterial or scented will contain harsh ingredients that can irritate your skin. And forget washcloths and loofahs, as they can become breeding grounds for mold and bacteria. Your hands work just fine.
As decidedly the worst part of any shower, it’s no wonder many women rush this step, but we beauty editors know better! A haphazard shave is a surefire way to end up with cuts and ingrown hairs. The key to a perfect shave is a sharp razor. Replace yours every five to seven shaves and never store it in the shower.
After each use, remove your razor from the wet shower, dry it off, and store it somewhere where it will stay dry to prevent dulling and rusting. And don’t forget skin prep is important too. Use a moisturizing shave cream (sorry, but your body wash doesn’t count)—and if you shave on an exfoliation day, exfoliate first to help release any ingrown hairs.
Beauty editors, product junkies, women in general—we all have a lot of product. A strategic shower is not just about what you use, it’s also about when. Once a week, incorporate a clarifying shampoo into your routine. We love Neutrogena’s Anti-Residue Formula Shampoo ($7) on a Sunday night or Monday morning to start the week with clean, buildup-free hair.
On a weekly basis, apply a deep conditioning hair mask, like Living Proof’s Restore Mask Treatment ($42) or Alterna’s Bamboo Smooth Moisture Mask ($26). For a real treat for your tresses, pop on a shower cap. It will trap in heat, allowing the mask to soak even deeper into strands. Once or twice a week, depending on your skin’s sensitivity, add an exfoliating scrub (like the Rebalance Refining Body Scrub ($10) from Boots Botanics or the Blood Orange + White Pepper Sugar Scrub ($36) from Bliss) into the mix.
Hair, body, face. Don’t mess with that order. From the moment you step into a warm shower, your pores begin to open and the sebum inside begins to liquefy—making this prime time for cleansing. But if you wash your face before you shampoo and condition, product runoff (from products not designed for the delicate skin on your face) can clog pores.
Don’t sabotage your skillfully executed shower by rushing your post-bathing routine. Pat dry with a clean, soft towel and immediately apply body lotion, before you open the bathroom door. Moisturizing in the steamy bathroom air is like a double dose of hydration for your skin.
Use a clean towel for your face as well, but don’t let a towel touch your tresses. Trade it for a soft old T-shirt instead. Blot hair dry (never rub or shake), and try not to throw your delicate tresses up into a towel turban. The fibers in bath towels rough up the cuticle, causing frizz, and the twisting sets you up for breakage.