Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wash Your Face in the Shower

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why shouldn t you wash face in shower cat

Skincare is a daily commitment and while finding the right moisturizers, serums and essential oils for your skin type is highly encouraged, none of it will matter if you’re not getting the most fundamental step in your routine right—and that’s washing your face. While most of us are used to simply slathering our faces with cleanser mid-shower, it turns out, that might not be the best approach.

OK, so why shouldn’t I wash my face in the shower?

Myths about shower water causing rosacea, acne and other skin problems have long been debunked by dermatologists, but it’s still better to do your daily cleanse over the sink. For one, there’s less risk of other beauty products getting onto your skin. Think about it, products such as shampoo are meant to lift oils and build up from your scalp, so they contain much harsher ingredients that can cause irritation when they come into contact with your face.

Secondly, if you’re like us, you love using scalding hot water when you shower. And while it may feel good on sore muscles, it’s not so kind to your face. Washing your face over the sink makes it much easier to regulate the temperature of your water, which should be lukewarm, as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatologists. 

And for anyone who has large pores, you may have heard that splashing your face with cold water after cleansing can temporarily minimize those pores, decrease puffiness and increase blood flow, but let’s *ahem* face it—no glow is worth standing in icy cold water for, even if it’s just for a few seconds. Over the sink, however, it’s much more tolerable.

Is there a right way to wash your face?

We’re glad you asked. The American Academy of Dermatology has a step-by-step guide on the correct way you should be washing your face below: 

Step 1: Buy the right cleanser. Get a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that doesn’t contain alcohol, which can be drying. We like Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser or Cetaphil’s Daily Facial Cleanser.

Step 2: Wash your face. Using lukewarm water, wet your face and use your fingertips to apply cleanser evenly. Avoid using a washcloth, a mesh sponge or a facial scrubber as they can strip your skin’s natural oils and cause irritation.

Step 3: Rinse. Wash off your cleanser with lukewarm water and pat your face dry with a soft towel.

Step 4: Moisturize. Apply moisturizer if your skin is dry or itchy. Keep in mind the skin around your eyes is especially delicate, so be gentle in those areas. 

The AAD also advises that you limit washing your face to no more than twice a day (excessive cleansing can damage your skin barrier) and make sure to wash up immediately after sweating. Perspiration—especially when wearing a hat or helmet—can cause irritation when left on your skin.

The bottom line: Sure, washing your face while simultaneously deep conditioning your hair in the shower won’t have any major adverse effects, but cleansing over the sink will encourage you to take the time to give your money maker the thorough, gentle attention it deserves.

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Resident Hufflepuff, Beyonce historian, self-proclaimed tea sommelier

Steph is a native of Zimbabwe who is both enamored and genuinely baffled by the concept of silent letters. From 2020 to 2022, she served as Associate Editor at PureWow covering...