6 Secrets to a Healthier Shower
Why you should keep it cool, make a fast exit and lather up less often
If you shower every day you’re in good company, at least in America, though scientists say a daily shower is actually a bad idea — more on that in a minute. But is your get-clean routine doing damage to your skin and even your health? And could a different shower strategy boost your mood and even help you lose weight?
Take a smarter shower with these six secrets.
1. Keep it under 10 minutes. It’s tempting to linger beneath the spray from that new rainfall shower head. But too much water sluicing over your skin can wash away moisturizing oils, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warns. In contrast, a five- to 10-minute shower adds moisture to your skin.
2. Dial down the temperature. Getting hot and steamy in the shower may sound tempting, but for your skin and overall health, you’re better off chilling out a bit. A warm shower is easier on your skin than a hot one, according to the AAD. This is particularly good advice in winter, when outdoor humidity is low and heated indoor air is arid — a double whammy that boosts your risk for itchy, flaky dry skin.
Another reason to keep it cool: Hot baths or showers can cause a drop in blood pressure, according to breastcancer.org. A drop in blood pressure can lead to dizziness, which may cause you to fall.
3. Grab a cold one. Need a mood boost? Try a cold shower. Cold showers have been shown to temporarily ease depression. It’s possible they could even help with weight loss. Some research has found exposure to cold activates the body’s reserves of calorie-burning brown fat.
Just don’t turn the tap to the Arctic side after a workout. In a 2007 University of Melbourne study of 40 volunteers, people who were doused with icy water after exercising felt more muscle pain later on than those soaked with warmer water.
4. Skip it. Really. According to proponents of the “shower reduction” movement, a daily rinse removes beneficial bacteria like the sweat-eating bugs called Nitrosomonas eutropha. Showering less often, or not at all, allows these good critters to thrive, they contend.
5. Keep your shower squeaky clean. Allergy- and asthma-provoking mold and mildew thrive in warm, humid places like shower stalls and tubs. Run the bathroom exhaust fan during and after your shower. Use a squeegee to wipe water off shower walls, then leave the shower curtain or door open to let moisture escape. Keep tile and grout clean — mold loves to munch on soap scum. Replace your shower curtain if mold appears, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests.
6. Get a grip. Each year, more than 230,000 Americans show up in the emergency room with injuries that happened in the bathroom, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in three of these accidents happen while showering or bathing. Put a non-slip mat in your shower and use a non-skid rug outside the shower to avoid falls, the NIH suggests. Add a grab bar, too.