Like many others in the past year and a half, I found long hot showers to be a soothing and down-to-earth way to escape reality: slip in, lather up, and spend minutes (or, um, hours) getting lost in thought. Stepping out, feeling refreshed.
In fact, the post-hot shower sensation was so delightful that I overlooked the clear signs of unhappy skin afterward—redness, tightness, and itching from head to toe. But with the arrival of colder months, my already dry, sensitive skin became even more fragile (and the temptation to turn up the dial incessant), prompting me to find a better balance between comfortable showers and maintaining skin health. Ask any dermatologist, and they’ll tell you: this task begins with the right shower temperature—especially this time of year. This article delves into the best bathing and skincare habits to keep your skin soft, smooth, and radiant during winter.
So, what is the ideal shower temperature?
“Lukewarm.” Many experts unanimously agree that a temperature slightly warm to the touch, ranging between 37 to 41 degrees Celsius, feels slightly warm compared to body temperature.
Avoiding scalding high temperatures is crucial as they can damage the skin’s moisture barrier, affecting the skin’s appearance, feel, and overall health. The skin barrier, composed of skin proteins and oils, prevents moisture from evaporating, protecting the skin from external influences and serving as one of our first lines of defense against infections and pollutants.
How does cold weather impact things?
As outdoor temperatures drop, moisture evaporates from the air, prompting the evaporation of moisture from the skin’s surface. Cold winds further dry out the skin. Of course, this creates a dilemma: the colder it is outside, the warmer you want the shower to feel. While very hot showers may be more appealing in winter when we like to combat the chill, the combination of dry cold air outdoors and hot water in the shower weakens the skin barrier, resulting in drier and less appealing skin.
What about the cleansing factor?
For healthy, moisturized skin, an appropriate cleansing routine is just as important as shower temperature. The most crucial thing to know? Cleaning with harsh soaps can dry out the skin, stripping it of its natural oils and healthy bacteria. In terms of basic chemistry, true soap is a fatty acid salt. These products effectively wash away sebum and dirt, but their pH, between 9 and 10, is much higher than the skin’s natural pH, approximately 5.4. True soap disrupts the skin barrier due to this pH difference. Instead, opt for gentle, pH-balanced cleansers. Their pH is closer to the skin (5.5-7), making them more tolerable during showers.
What is the best way to maintain skin moisture after a shower?
When you step out of the shower, be sure to pat dry to avoid irritation. Within the first minute of patting dry, apply moisturizer. Concerning the selection of a suitable body moisturizer, two main categories need consideration: humectants and occlusives (also known as sealants). Humectant moisturizers attract moisture to the skin surface and contain magical ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. These are more breathable and less likely to cause acne. As a general rule, lotions are lighter in weight, creams are heavier. If not using an occlusive, the former applies to particularly dry skin. When needed, use an occlusive to trap moisture in the skin, noting they are often relatively greasy and usually petroleum-based. In extremely dry months, these are excellent choices for arms and legs.
Another crucial aspect of skin cleansing and moisturizing is age. As we age, the ability to retain moisture and healthy skin diminishes, typically noticed first as fall and winter skincare become more challenging. This is mainly because, on a biological level, our skin’s ability to form the so-called ‘Natural Moisturizing Factor’ or ‘NMF’ decreases. Consequently, the outer layer of our skin becomes dry, loses elasticity, and develops small cracks, resulting in a rough, dull, flaky surface. In conclusion, as time goes on, establishing healthier bathing and cleansing routines becomes increasingly important and, in the long run, pays dividends for healthy skin.Showering has a certain relationship with winter Skincare.