9 Mistakes You're Making When You Shower

9 Mistakes You're Making When You Shower

Dr. Pimple Popper shares her hacks for making the most out of your daily rinse.


5 minute read

It might not be rocket science, but turns out, there actually is a right and wrong way to take a shower. This is particularly true if you’re dealing with a skin concern like acne or keratosis pilaris, says dermatologist and SLMD Skincare founder Sandra Lee, MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper). Read on to find out if you’re making any of the most common missteps in your shower routine — and what simple tweaks you can make to get the most out of your wash.

#1 Your water’s too hot

If you tend to linger in super hot water, you could be drying out your skin. Over time, this can weaken your skin barrier and exacerbate not only dry skin conditions like eczema, but also acne. If the idea of water drying out your skin and making it oily seems like an oxymoron, get this: when we wash too much sebum away with harsh chemical cleansers, or extra hot water, our body sends a signal to our sebaceous glands, triggering more production to make up for what was just lost. When that additional sebum (plus dead skin) gets trapped within the pores, it can attract bacteria, leading to breakouts.

Try: SLMD Body Acne System

#2 You’re drying off with a dirty towel

Getting lazy about laundry can spell disaster for anyone dealing with a skin concern, especially when there’s bacteria involved. A buildup of microbes, oil and cosmetic product residue on your towel provides a breeding ground for C. acnes, the bacteria that causes inflammatory pimples. If you’ve got dry, cracked skin, you also risk introducing common pathogens like staph, which can cause boils. To avoid rubbing microbes all over your freshly-washed skin (ew), switch out your towels at least once a week.

#3 Your hair care isn’t skin friendly

You may be adept at figuring out when skincare products — cleansers, moisturizers, and the like — are leading to things like irritation or acne. But did you know that common ingredients like in your hair care products could be causing similar problems? If you’re seeing breakouts on your back, neck, shoulders, or any areas where shampoo, conditioner or hair masks might touch, take a closer look at the back of your bottles. Dr. Lee suggests avoiding things like fragrance, preservatives and comedogenic oils if you’re managing skin concerns like acne, KP, or eczema.

#4 You’re using the wrong body wash

Sometimes, the most obvious culprit is the one we rely on most often. Many over the counter body washes, even those medicated and designed to treat acne, can contain harsh detergents that strip the skin of necessary oils. Like we explained before, when your skin gets too dry, it can trigger the body to produce even more sebum, creating a counterproductive cycle as ineffective as it is frustrating. Dr. Lee suggests seeking out a body wash that’s specifically formulated for your particular skin concern, but also has soothing and protective ingredients.

Try: SLMD BP Body Wash

Dr. Pimple Popper's Shower Picks

#5 You aren’t exfoliating regularly

Kudos to you if you’re already exfoliating your face…but what about your body? While it’s easy to ignore the skin below your neck, it’s actually thicker and tougher than the skin on your face — which means we should all be exfoliating here, too. Depending on your skin type, body skin can typically tolerate a combination of physical and chemical exfoliants, says Dr. Lee. Look for products that are labeled suitable for your particular skin concern, and go easy to avoid causing damage. It is possible to over-exfoliate (especially if you have acne or an inflammatory condition like eczema) so always listen to your skin and dial it back if need be.

Try: SLMD Glycolic Acid Body Scrub, Salicylic Acid Body Spray, Body Smoothing System

#6 You’re shaving the wrong way(s)

We don’t need to tell you how painful ingrown hairs and razor burn are. We’ve covered this topic before, but in a nutshell: make sure you’re switching out your razor blades regularly, wetting your skin thoroughly, and shaving in the same direction that your hair grows. Exfoliating beforehand (see #5) will also go a long way toward avoiding ingrown hairs. If you do get one, don’t pick it, or shave over it; dab on some antibacterial spot treatment instead.

Try: SLMD BP Acne Spot Treatment

#7 You’re forgetting to moisturize ASAP

Especially if we’re in a hurry, many of us have a tendency to dry ourselves off a little too well after we shower. But according to Dr. Lee, we’re missing an opportunity to seal some of that water into our skin. So instead of drying off completely and waiting to moisturize, slather your moisturizer on when you’re still a little damp. You’ll actually lock more of that moisture into your skin.

Try: SLMD Glycolic Acid Body Lotion

#8 You’re showering too often

If you’re bathing more than once a day, you could be stripping your skin (see #1), says Dr. Lee. Unless you’re working out/sweating a lot, swimming, or using full-body sunscreen that could be occlusive, there’s typically no need to shower more than once daily. Need to shave your legs? Try sitting on the edge of the tub. Got a bit of underarm b.o.? Wipe on an exfoliating product to change your pH. And if the idea of skipping a shower is simply too cringe-worthy, try taking a shorter one instead.

Try: SLMD AHA/BHA Swipes

#9 You're not showering mindfully

Part of making the most out of your daily reprieve is taking some time just for yourself, to quiet your mind and honor your body. Our favorite way to spruce up our shower is on Sunday nights, before the start of a long week. Light some candles, put your favorite music on, and put a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto the floor of your shower so the scent mixes with the steam. Apply your favorite face mask a few minutes before. After you’ve lathered up, rinse your face as the last step of your shower.

Dr Sandra Lee

Dr. Lee's Last Word

It’s time we all treated our body skin to a bit more TLC…and this includes making a few simple changes to get the most out of your shower. Three main things I recommend are using a body wash that targets your skin concern, not making the water too hot, and making sure you moisturize afterwards.


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