By Emily Reksits

Published on January 26, 2017

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Photography by PHUONG NGUYEN

Most of us have been showering regularly since we were kids. We’ve got the whole thing down. Or so we thought. After talking to a hairstylist and dermatologist, we’ve found out a few things that we’re actually doing wrong. Click through and check out if you’re making these showering mistakes.

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The water’s too hot.

There’s nothing like starting the day off with a nice hot shower. But if the water temperature is too high, it can actually do more damage than good. “Hot water can strip the natural oils from your skin, leaving it dry and vulnerable to cracking,” explains dermatologist Dendy Engelman. “Losing these oils compromises our skin’s barrier, thus protection from irritants.” This is most dangerous in the winter (when you’re most tempted to use extra hot water) because skin is already prone to dryness.

And apparently hot water isn’t great for hair health either. Butterfly Studio Salon’s expert stylist Jason J Dougherty explains that it’s best to use warm water to open up the hair cuticle to remove dirt and oils. Then, rinse with cold water to close it up. “It will prevent hair loss in the shower, reduce frizz, and add a lot more shine,” he says.

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Your water’s unfiltered.

There are certain places that have hard water, which can have a negative effect on your hair and skin. What this means is that the unfiltered water may contain many harmful additives such as minerals, oxidizers, calcium, magnesium, silica, and iron.  “These can leave residue on the skin and hair causing build-up, dryness, and irritations,” explains Dr. Engelman. With the residue leaving a coat over the skin and hair, products are unable to fully penetrate to properly clean the area. This can create dull looking finish to both the hair and skin. Dougherty also explains that these chemicals can strip hair color, dulling out the look. So if you do happen to live in an area with hard water, install a filtering system.

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You’re using the wrong cleanser.

Just because you like the smell of the body wash you’ve been using for years, doesn’t mean it’s the best option. A lot of available cleansers contain harmful chemicals, fragrances, parabens, and sulfates, which all can increase flare-ups. Dr. Engelman recommends oil-based cleansers to maintain hydrated, healthy skin. “Oil-based cleansers eliminate impurities without drying out the skin,” she explains. “Essentially the oil binds to the oils on your face and the cleanser rinses them away, without striping your skin of its good natural oils.” She recommends Jason Foaming Shower Oil.

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You’re shampooing too much.

Unless you have ultra-fine, thin hair, you really don’t need to wash it every day. If you’re over-shampooing, the results are similar to using harsh chemicals on your skin. “It strips the hair of its natural oils and will lead to your hair becoming quite dry and brittle over time,” explains Dougherty. So if you notice your hair seems drier than usual, cut back to shampooing every other shower. It’s all about finding the right balance.

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You’re over exfoliating.

Exfoliating can be seriously beneficial to the skin. It rids the skin of any dead skin cells and promotes cell turnover. However, over-exfoliating can do a lot of damage. “It will expose the skin, weaken skin-barrier function and in some cases trigger inflammation,” explains Dr. Engelman. This can create a sort-of vulnerability to the skin and create sensitivity, infection or irritation. Ideally, you only need to be exfoliating two or three times a week. And if you are experiencing any sensitivity or inflammation, you should cut back.

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You don’t moisturizer post-shower.

Dr. Engelman notes that the few minutes post-shower can be just as important as those spent in the shower. And post-shower, moisturizing is key. “Applying oil and lotion on wet skin will allow the product to lock moisture in by trapping some of the water on the skin,” she explains. “Keeping it from evaporating, the glycerin in the lotion helps to bind to water molecules, which not only gives a soft, supple feeling but strengthens the skin barrier.” This little shift in habit can make all the difference to the skin’s health and overall feel.