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Why Shouldn’t You Wash Your Face in the Shower? Pros and Cons

washing face in shower

Maintaining a regular skincare regimen is essential to supporting healthy skin while combatting acne, wrinkles, and other common skin issues. Washing your face is the foundation of good skincare, and while it seems natural and intuitive to wash your face when you shower, it may not be a great idea. Read on to learn more about washing your face in the shower below.

Why Shouldn’t You Wash Your Face in the Shower?

Much of the problem with washing your face in the shower comes down to temperature. Most people shower with water that is far too hot for their skin, which could pose a problem.

In a small study, subjects were treated with a 5% sodium lauryl sulfate solution on four different areas of the skin. While one area served as an untreated control, the other three areas were at different temperatures: 4 degrees, 20 degrees, and 40 degrees Celsius. Subjects were treated for four days, and on the fifth day, researchers evaluated skin irritation based on erythema, trans-epidermal water loss measurements, skin reflectance, hydration, and desquamation.

The results showed more prominent skin damage in areas treated with warmer temperatures, essentially stripping the skin of its natural oils and disrupting the skin barrier. This suggests that higher temperatures could actually irritate the skin.1

Furthermore, hot water temperatures can dilate the capillaries and blood vessels in your face, which can leave your skin red and irritated while aggravating rosacea and other conditions related to skin discoloration. Repeatedly exposing your skin to high temperatures could break your blood vessels or permanently dilate capillaries and vessels.2

Is It Bad to Wash Your Face in the Shower?

Washing your face in the shower regularly may potentially cause problems. As mentioned, the high temperatures of your shower can strip your skin of its essential oils. This can cause your skin to become dry and irritated. Using a facial cleanser at these higher temperatures can worsen irritation.

When your skin gets dry, it may overcompensate by producing excess oil, which increases the chances of clogged pores that may result in breakouts. That dryness may also make existing acne look and feel worse while potentially contributing to the inflamed tissue.3

Hot water, as well as harsh facial cleansers, can break down your skin’s protective barrier. The skin barrier is a thin layer on your skin that helps to keep out potentially harmful microbes, including bacteria responsible for acne. This barrier is slightly acidic with an ideal pH of 5.5.4 Raising the pH or otherwise damaging the barrier can result in irritation and inflammation, often characterized by flakiness, burning, itchiness, or redness.5

Along with irritation and acne, dry skin may also contribute to signs of aging. While dry skin does not cause wrinkles in itself, it may accentuate them. Fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin get exaggerated when your skin is dried out. By comparison, skin that is well moisturized can appear plump, smooth, and healthy.6

Best Way to Wash Your Face in the Shower

While “don’t wash your face in the shower” is the easiest advice, you can make some simple changes to clean your face in the shower without harming your skin. The best way to wash your face in the shower is with lukewarm water. Lukewarm water minimizes the risk of dilating your capillaries and stripping your skin of necessary oils.

Even with warm water, your face can become too dry with too much contact with water, so keep your showers short. They should be no more than 10 minutes long.

Washing your face should also be the last part of your shower routine. Shampoo and conditioner may leave a residue that may be harsh and irritating when it drips onto your face. Saving your face washing for the end ensures that you clean away any residue.

Use a non-greasy moisturizer to combat the potential drying effects of your shower while nourishing your skin with essential nutrients.

Is it bad to wash your face in the shower? Potentially, but by keeping the water temperature low and foregoing excessively long shower sessions, you may be able to keep your face clean and maintain healthy skin.