skin care concerns Why That Steamy Hot Shower May Actually Be Bad for Your Skin

Time to ditch those long, hot showers this winter.

February 14, 2022
Are Hot Showers Bad For Skin


Some would argue that there’s no better way to decompress than in a steamy, hot shower. It's sort of akin to relaxing in a bubbling jacuzzi at a spa. But while setting the water temperature to scorching levels may feel soothing against your body — especially during the frigid winter months — hot showers can actually be bad for your skin. 

According to Madison Godesky, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Scientific Affairs at L'Oréal Paris, taking a long, hot shower weakens skin's protective barrier, which she explains as "the outermost layer of skin that provides essential protection from dehydration and environmental aggressors." That means if this protective layer is damaged, you can expect to experience a series of woes — such as itchy, dry and flaky skin.

Ahead, Godesky further explains why you should avoid taking a hot shower altogether — and how to cleanse yourself instead.

Why Are Hot Showers Bad For You?

Think of the skin barrier as your defense shield. It blocks out harsh rays and irritants, such as pollution and harmful chemicals. But it's also a key player in maintaining moisture and is responsible for the appearance of an effortless complexion. 

According to Godesky, the skin barrier is made of lipids — including cholesterols, free fatty acids and ceramides, which act as the glue to the protective film. 

"When skin is heated to temperatures much higher than typical body temperature, skin barrier lipids begin to lose their structural integrity," she explains. She, also notes that if compromised, "it loses its ability to seal in moisture and water from deeper layers of the skin evaporates, leading to dehydration."

The effect on the skin barrier can be temporary and reversible once skin cools back down, says Godesky, but taking excessively hot, long showers can be detrimental and can lead to irreversible damage. "At elevated temperatures, lipids become more water-soluble and can be permanently stripped away from the skin," she adds. "This can lead to a more chronically compromised barrier."

How To Shower Instead

When it comes to reversing the effects of a scorching hot shower, there is, unfortunately, no quick fix. There are, however, some steps you can take to help limit the severity of the damage — like taking cooler showers and spending 10 minutes in it. Says Godesky, "It's not all or nothing."

As for what you can do, she recommends applying a facial oil or skin protectant before hopping into the shower "to help reinforce your barrier and seal in moisture." She also suggests washing your face with a mild cleanser and cool water afterward instead of including that step in your in-shower routine. 

If you need a recommendation, try the L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Nourishing Cream Cleanser. This creamy offering is formulated with replenishing oils and works to gently remove all traces of makeup without drying your skin. Carry on with your skin care routine and make sure to follow by moisturizing the rest of your body.

Next: How to Wash Your Hair and Avoid Hair-Washing Mistakes

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