We've been washing our faces in the shower since about the time we got our first rubber ducky. Who doesn't love a multitasking two-for-one?
But depending how you're sudsing up, this may not be the kindest way to treat the delicate skin on your face.
"Personally, I separate washing my bod in the shower and washing my face at the sink like church and state," writes Rachel Lapidos on Well + Good.
Why? It's all about protecting the skin barrier, that outermost layer of your skin's surface. Think of bricks and mortar on a building facade: the cells (bricks) are layered with mortar (lipids, aka fats), and hot shower water can do a number on them.
"Hot water coming straight onto your face from the shower head can strip away your natural oils and leave your skin barrier weak, vulnerable, and cracked," Charlotte Cho, licensed esthetician and founder of Soko Glam told BuzzFeed. Yikes.
Scientists agree. "Natural moisture factors like ceramides, fatty acids, and oils help retain moisture levels in the skin," Dr. Justine Hextall, consultant dermatologist at The Harley Medical Group and spokesperson for Avene, explained to Women's Health. "The problem is that they're water soluble — so if you run your face under the shower for ten minutes you could literally rinse them away."
Furthermore, hot water and high temperatures can dilate blood vessels and capillaries, leaving skin red and aggravating conditions like rosacea.
We interrupt this another-thing-you're-doing-wrong programming for a dose of realness. We regularly hit snooze three times in the morning, and often have thirty minutes before we have to be out the door. Are we really going to add a long sink-stop to the already-rushed morning routine? Can't we make the shower work for us?
Dr. Mona Gohara, a Danbury, Connecticut-based dermatologist, says washing your face in the shower is not all dermatological doom and gloom. She washes her face in the shower, and says we can, too. The trick is how we do it.
"As long as your technique and products are right, the place isn't important in my view," she said.
It might even be a good place for it, according to Dr. Hadley King of Schweiger Dermatology Group. "In fact, the hydration and warmth make the skin particularly amenable to gentle exfoliation and thorough cleansing," Dr. King told Marie Claire.
Here are the rules to washing your face in the shower the right way:
Wash your face after you shampoo and condition
Conditioner can leave blemish-producing residue, so work your mild facial cleanser up to the hairline.
Don't suds up with the bar you lather all over your bod
The harsh chemicals can strip those natural oils of the facial barrier. If you're doing your best to practice shower minimalism, try Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar.
Turn down the temperature
"We may love hot showers, but our skin does not," Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, told Well + Good. "Hot water can strip the skin of oils, leading to dryness, irritation, and inflammation." It's not just lip (and lipid) service: studies show hot water irritates the skin and disrupts the skin barrier.
If you already rinse your hair in cool water before you hop out, this would be a perfect time to wash your face.
Finish with a cold jolt
Think Nordic beauties post cold-plunge. "A cold finish stimulates circulation and can be hugely beneficial to the overall glow of your skin," EVE LOM product developer Amandine Isnard told The Gloss.
A sauna experience on the cheap and on the way to work? That's the kind of fantasy we like to add to the morning.