Let’s Get To The Bottom Of This — Is It Actually Bad To Wash Your Face In The Shower?

Wash Your Face In The Shower
Credit: Nicole-Koehler / Wiki Commons

Why shouldn’t you wash your face in the shower? Or, should you? Derms weigh in.

When it comes to the so-called rules of skincare, many have a clear-cut label of “do” or “don’t.” Should SPF be a part of your daily routine, regardless of the weather forecast? Definitely.

Should you always take your makeup off before bed? A resounding yes. Others, however, remain a little more mysterious.

One of which is the question: is it bad to wash your face in the shower? What seems like a practical way to streamline your routine has been hotly debated among skincare enthusiasts. Here, dermatologists are (finally) setting the record straight.

Is it bad to wash your face in the shower?

When we asked the experts, “why shouldn’t you wash your face in the shower?,” the answer was surprising — there’s actually no reason not to. “While there are claims that the hot water of a shower can strip the natural oils of the skin and that there may be harmful bacteria in your bathroom that could enter the skin, there is no medical evidence to prove that,” Tracy Evans MD, MPH, board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology said.

“In fact, dermatologists often recommend washing your face in the shower with warm (not hot) water as it’s a great way to remove dirt and oil while in a room that is filled with steam which softens the skin and allows the outer layer of the skin to allow moisture through,” she continues. The shower also creates an environment where you can do a thorough job without rushing the process or worrying about making a mess of your bathroom vanity.

Dermatologist Dr. Purvisha Patel adds that it’s not the shower itself that’s potentially harmful, it’s how you’re washing — specifically, the products you use. “Make sure that you are using a facial cleanser when washing in the shower,” she says. “Body bars and soaps can be too strong for facial use and can have too basic of pH which can disrupt the skin barrier.”

Experts agree that those with dry or sensitive skin need to take extra care when it comes to cleansing in general, especially if you choose to cleanse in the shower. “If you take very hot showers, the water may be too hot for those who have sensitive or dry skin,” warns Dr. Patel. “Hot water evaporates from the skin more easily and can make the skin drier. Hot water can also dilate the blood vessels on the surface of the skin, making some inflammatory skin conditions worse, or flare.”

You can avoid irritation by making sure the shower stream is at a lukewarm temperature before applying a gentle cleanser, like CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. “I always recommend a double cleanse for my patients,” says Dr. Evans. “While in the shower using warm water, use a gentle oil-based or cream cleanser to remove makeup and dirt, then a gel-based cleanser to remove excess oil. I also like using a muslin washcloth to remove all of the cleanser.” Some her favorite cleansers are Emma Hardie Moringa Balm and Eve Lom Cleansing Balm, followed by Epionce Lytic Gel Cleanser and Alastin Gentle Cleanser for the second step.

Dr. Patel adds that the warm, humid environment of your shower can even enhance your post-shower skincare routine. “Applying your skincare when your skin is still shower-fresh — but dry — catches the blood vessels when they are dilated and can make your skincare ingredients more potent by increasing penetration.”

So, there you have it. There’s actually nothing wrong with washing your face in the shower, as long as you’re taking proper precautions. Scrub away!

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