There’s nothing like hopping into a hot, steamy shower on a cold day. It warms you up, eases tight muscles and generally soothes stress away. But, if this is part of your daily routine, you are not going to like what we’re about to tell you: taking hot showers is really, really bad for your hair and skin.
“Hot water can cause over-drying by stripping away essential oils in the outermost layer of skin,” says New York City dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. “When these oils liquefy, this layer—which serves as a natural barrier to the outside world—breaks down, resulting in irritation, tightness and inflammation.” What’s more, too many hot showers can cause chronically dry skin, scaly patches and, in severe cases, cracks and fissures. Basically, your cherished ritual is killing your skin.
And the damage doesn’t stop with your complexion. Hair washed in hot water is worse for the wear too. Hot water dehydrates hair, leaving you with brittle strands that are prone to breakage. Plus, it strips the scalp of natural oils, which can cause your scalp to overproduce oil, leading to greasy roots. It also makes your hair appear more “rough,” at least temporarily. The cuticles on a strand of hair resemble the shingles on a roof; when exposed to cold water, they lie flat but the warmer the water, the more they open up. The result? Lackluster locks that reflect less light.
So what should you do? “Keep showers under 10 minutes using lukewarm water,” says Dr. Engelman. You’ll know if your shower is too long when skin starts to feel tight. “Use a moisturizing cleanser…[and] after bathing pat dry (don’t rub).” She also suggests applying a thick moisturizer within a minute of stepping out of the shower. If chronic dryness persists after making changes to your beauty regiment, contact your dermatologist. It could be a sign of a larger problem.
So, no more piping hot showers! We hate to pile on more bad news on a Monday but your hair and skin will thank us.
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