Back in the day when I had a little thing called time and a big thing called lack-of-knowledge, taking uber-hot, hour-long showers was the highlight of my day. Nothing (save a scoop of ice cream on a summer day) was more satisfying than jumping into a steaming hot shower after trekking through slush, sleet, and snow.
Nothing, I repeat.
But amazing though the idea of them may be, the combination of a long and hot shower is a terrible one: the hot water strips the skin of its protective oils, thus leaving it dry, tight, and irritated post-shower. Couple that with a bar of soap and you have yourself double the trouble.
Here’s why: the outermost layer of our skin, the epidermis, is comprised of keratinocytes. Keratinocytes are skin cells packed with Keratin (also found in your hair and nails) that act as the skin’s primary defense against externalities by producing a thin layer of oil to help retain a natural level of moisture. This protective layer of cells – the stratum corenum – is actually being stripped away with every hot shower you take. The steam from the shower causes those natural oils to soften and, essentially, melt away. This leaves your skin exposed without defense against the heat – hence why you often notice that your body turns a bright red and feels dry, itchy, or irritated post-shower.
Winter air will only exacerbate the dryness, too.
The simple solution? Do right by your skin and fight the temptation to hop into a hot shower. Avoid bar soaps and soap-based cleansers and opt for a gentler, creamier formula instead. Never skip moisturizing head-to-toe post-shower. Beautiful skin is worth a lukewarm shower, so forget what I said earlier about nothing being better than a hot shower on a cold day.
Nothing is better than looking – and feeling – beautiful in your skin.
(Though a pint of ice cream might be a potential contender.)
. . .
Tell us: what’s your vice on a cold winter day?