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Looks like dry skin’s worst time of year is easing up — yay! But for some people, dry skin lasts beyond the winter months. And note: if you have kids with dry skin, teach them these dry skin shower rules from a top dermatologist NOW so they can learn ASAP how to take good care of their skin for life, ok?

SPONSORED Thanks to AVEENO® ACTIVE NATURALS®, Beautygeeks has well-known dermatologist Dr. Paul Cohen to answer some of your skincare concerns. Today we focus on his dry skin shower rules, key tips for preserving skin’s natural moisture levels. Congratulations to Yvonne Cunha of Newmarket, ON, who wins a selection of AVEENO® ACTIVE NATURALS® worth more than $50 for having her question answered!

Yvonne: The skin on my body is generally dry year round, but I find in colder weather I’m exceptionally itchy and dry, almost to the point of being painful. My legs look like almost scaley, my arms are always itchy and my skin flakes so much that sometimes my black sweaters and pants are white inside (I know, gross). I’m not sure what to look for in a body wash that will quench my skin. Also, what type of after-shower moisturizer to use that will absorb quickly but still feel like it’s there at the end of the day. Thank you.

Dr. Paul Cohen: Dry, itchy skin is a very common skin problem — especially in winter with low temperatures, low humidity and strong, harsh winds depleting skin of its natural lipid layer, which keeps skin from drying out. Dry air from furnaces and other heating sources also sucks the moisture out of skin. To keep skin soft and supple, your goal is not just to add moisture to skin, but to keep moisture in.

First things first: in the winter, you must alter your bath and shower habits. Since hot water robs skin of moisture, causing dry skin, it’s best to shower in warm water. If you can’t bear this rule, try to keep your showers short and try showering only once per day. Soaps, especially bar soaps can be drying. Stick with a creamy moisturizing cleanser that contains glycerin, such as AVEENO® Daily Moisturizing Body Wash, or a soapless cleanser.

Enjoy baths? Try taking a short, warm bath and make it extra hydrating by adding a bath oil or a moisturizing oatmeal bath in the water. A bath oil or moisturizing bath mix in the water creates an emulsion that sticks to skin, helping it hydrate.

The most important tip I can give is this: the moment you step out of the shower, pat skin lightly to dry off instead of rubbing with your towel before applying lotions or oils, then immediately apply any moisturizer to your slightly damp skin. Moisturizer is the key to soft, supple skin. If a regular moisturizer still leaves skin feeling dry, try a cream which has a thicker base that helps it last longer on skin, or an oil, like AVEENO® Creamy Moisturizing Oil. Ideally, to treat extra dry skin in winter, you should be applying a moisturizer twice a day.

If you’re contending with for Dr. Cohen’s skincare advice.

Do you struggle with dry skin? Only in the winter or in later months too? Will you follow Dr. Cohen’s dry skin shower rules?

AVEENO® ACTIVE NATURALS® skincare is available at drugstores, mass retailers and well.ca .

brown residue coming from skin when rubbing after a shower?

Don’t worry! This is the most common time of year for our skin to shed it’s dead cells ~ after the sunniest months of the year, all of those slightly sun-damaged cells are just begging to come off and let our healthy, fresh cells see the light of day.

Everyone loses thousands of skin cells every day ~ some people are just more conscious of them than others. I applaud your paying attention to your body ~ it is the best way to tell if something is ‘different’ with your skin (a possible sign of skin cancers, etc), and it shows that you love and care about your body, which is often a sign of someone with good self-care skills and self-confidence.

If you have access to a sauna, spend between 20 and 30 minutes in it; after warming up well, use your bare hands (you don’t have to use anything abrasive!) to slough off those dead cells. It is an extra speedy way of removing these dead cells.

If you don’t have access to a sauna, that’s OK too…it sounds like you’ve intuitively made your own inside your own shower! Again, depending on how sensitive your skin is, you don’t need to use abrasive bath poufs or the like to remove the cells. A soft washcloth or your own hands can work well, too.They also make soft-bristled body brushes that exfoliate as well as fight cellulite! Many people love to use these, however, you want to give your skin a break when using these brushes. Every other day to every three days is sufficient with this product.

One more important thing to be aware of: the type of soap you are using. Many soaps leave a thin layer of itself behind, and this “soap scum” (eew, right?!?!) can disguise itself as dead skin cells. One very good soap to try is Dove, which is affordable (often cheaper than soaps that look or smell pretty but are of lower quality). You may also want to look into soaps for dry skin, sensitive skin, or those made of organic ingredients. These are generally high-quality soaps as well.

In conclusion, don’t expect to find a magic cure that leaves your skin free and clear of these dead cells. As long as you are breathing, your body is going to be going through a continuous growth and shedding process. If you attempt to embrace rather than fight this, you may find yourself and your skin happier in the end!

How to Get Rid of Peeling Skin on the Face, Fast

Peeling skin on your face can be addressed with home remedies and medication. Most home remedies emphasize prevention, while traditional medication and facial treatments can sometimes heal dry skin that’s already peeling.

You may choose to use home remedies in tandem with a prescription that you get from a doctor.

Home remedies

If your skin is already peeling, refrain from touching it as much as you can. While you may want to cover your peeling skin with makeup, chances are that piling makeup on top of your skin won’t make the peeling any less noticeable. Cosmetics can also dry out your skin and make the peeling worse.

  • Use fragrance-free and mild cleansers and soaps. Building a soap lather on your skin’s surface dries out your skin.
  • Avoid products that could make your skin drier. Antibacterial soaps, deodorant soaps, and skin care products that contain alcohol should be avoided, especially on your face.
  • After washing your face, apply a moisturizer. Washing your face can add moisture to dry skin, but you need a moisturizer to lock in the effects on your skin.
  • Use soft towels when you touch your face. Rougher towels can damage your skin.
  • Dermatologists recommend that you take shorter showers and try to use lukewarm to warm water instead of using hot water. The steam from a shower can open up your pores, but it can also dry out your skin.
  • Always pat the skin on your face dry instead of rubbing your face. This helps preserve the smoothness of your skin.
  • Exfoliate your face to get rid of skin that’s peeling, but do it the right way. If your skin is peeling, avoid using a cleanser with alpha hydroxy acids, alcohol, or perfume. Try using lukewarm water and a soft washcloth or shower mitt to gently rub the skin on your face and loosen any skin that’s flaking. Don’t ever peel your skin, especially when it’s wet.
  • Applying a topical anti-inflammatory agent, such as aloe vera, could help your skin to heal.

Medical treatment and acne medication

A dermatologist may treat peeling skin with a combination of medication and treatments administered in their office. If you have an underlying health condition that’s causing the skin on your face to peel, you may need to begin treatment or adjust your current treatment for that condition before your symptoms improve. Treatments for peeling skin on your face include:

  • acne medication like doxycycline (Oracea)
  • chemical peels
  • prescription corticosteroid creams

10 things to do if your skin is peeling

  • There are many reasons why your skin may be peeling, but the most common cause is dehydrated skin.
  • By making a few changes in your daily routine, you can drastically help your peeling skin.
  • If your peeling skin is caused by something other than lack of moisture, you should consult a board-certified dermatologist.

Dealing with peeling skin? You’re not alone. In fact, Papri Sarkar, a dermatologist in Massachusetts, told INSIDER that it’s a pretty common issue during the winter months. “The decreased humidity, colder temperatures, and frigid breezes can really do a number on your skin,” she said. If your skin is peeling from being too dry, Sarkar noted that it means your skin barrier is damaged or diminished.

But Sarkar added that there are other, less common things that can cause peeling skin. Bacterial or fungal infections (usually on your feet) can cause your skin to peel. Sarkar also pointed out that sunburn can also cause peeling, so it’s important to wear sunscreen when you hit the slopes. Of course, Sarkar adds that there are a lot of other less common causes of peeling skin, like genetic diseases and other rare medical problems. For those, she recommends seeing a board-certified dermatologist.

The good news is that there are several different ways to treat peeling skin — especially if it’s because of dry skin. Below Sarkar gives INSIDER 10 tips to deal with it.

Turn the heat down in your shower

Our skin is designed to be a tight fortress against outside onslaughts, Sarkar explained. She compared the upper layer of our skin to a brick wall: The skin cells (keratinocytes) are the bricks, and the mortar (the space between the bricks) is made of oil or lipids. “Hot water wreaks havoc on the lipids in our skin, leaving cracks and openings in our defenses against the outer world,” Sarkar said. “In addition, this hardy brick and mortar structure is there to keep the good stuff, like moisture, in. With gaps in our defenses we lose precious resources like hydration more quickly.”

Get a humidifier

A humidifier will give your face much needed moisture. Yury Stroykin /

Since your skin loses water more quickly in the winter months, Sarkar recommended adding moisture back into your environment. How do you do that? With a humidifier.

“Ideally, I recommend at least having one in your bedroom when you’re sleeping,” Sarkar said. If that’s not an option, Sarkar said you can fill a bathtub with water in your living space and let it evaporate into the air. “It’s not as effective, but it’s better than nothing in a pinch,” she said.

Apply a thick moisturizer (right away)

Turns out, moisturizer doesn’t add much moisture to your skin. “Instead, it’s pretty good at keeping the moisture that’s already in your skin there,” Sarkar said. “That’s why it’s imperative that when you go to the trouble of applying a moisturizer, you apply it on damp skin.” Sarkar suggested putting on a thick moisturizer after a shower without toweling dry completely.

If you don’t have time to shower but still want to get the most of your moisturizer, Sarkar recommended using your sink. “Put a thin layer of water on your arm, then moisturizer, and then continue with the rest of your body.”

Skip soap in nonessential places

If you’re dealing with dry, peeling skin, it’s best to skip the suds all over your body, as the soap can dry out your skin even more, Sarkar said. “Unless you’re mud wrestling, you can just soap up your armpits and private area,” she said. “Getting water on the rest of you is key so you can apply thick moisturizer on afterward, but you don’t need to soap your calves every day unless they seem dirty.”

Lower the heat in your home

With the temperatures outside dropping, you may be inclined to crank up the heat in your home. But Sarkar said the hot air can also irritate your peeling skin. “Keeping your heat high will generally dry out the air and cause decreased humidity in your environment, which worsens dry skin.”

Avoid exfoliation

Too much exfoliation is never a good idea. Volodymyr Nik/

If your skin is peeling, your first instinct may be to exfoliate so you can get smooth skin. But Sarkar said that exfoliating peeling skin might not be the best choice. “If your skin barrier is already beaten up, I don’t recommend exfoliating,” she said. “In fact, over-exfoliating can cause peeling skin as well. It’s unfortunately one of the most common causes of an inflamed and damaged skin barrier that I see in the clinic.”

Lay off the acne treatments

Breaking out? You may want to pile on all of the acne medications, but Sarkar said that will only make your skin peel even more. “Patients with acne think they can nuclear blast the pimples away with strong exfoliators and actives, but it tends to backfire and cause more damage and inflammation in the short term,” she said. “Slow and steady is generally always best with skincare in general.”

Stick to non-irritating makeup

Just because your skin is peeling doesn’t mean you have to avoid makeup, Sarkar said. But she noted that it’s best to avoid makeup that has certain ingredients in it. “I ask patients to stay away from makeup with retinol or salicylic acid or other, irritating, active ingredients,” she said.

If you’re struggling with getting your makeup to go on smoothly while your skin is peeling, Sarkar suggested using a gentle ointment at night to repair your skin barrier overnight. “Alternatively, you can apply a primer, a thin layer or oil or ointment on your face before applying the makeup and keep it in place with a setting powder,” she said.

Put some gloves on

Is the skin on your hands peeling off? Sarkar has a quick fix. “On the hands, peeling skin can be managed by soaking the skin and then applying cream and then putting on gloves,” she said. “If there’s a large degree of inflammation, dermatologists also add a topical anti-inflammatory cream.”

See a dermatologist

Your dermatologist might be able to determine why your skin is peeling. iStock

If you’re dealing with peeling skin and it’s not because of dry skin, it’s best to see a board-certified dermatologist. As Sarkar mentioned before things like fungal infections, genetic diseases, or other issues can cause your skin to peel and should be treated by a professional.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Why does my skin get uncontrollably itchy after a shower?

Itching, burning and tingling of the skin after exercising and taking hot baths can be caused by a condition called “cholinergic urticaria.” This is a sensitivity to sweat or heat. Symptoms are sometimes followed by an itchy rash.

This condition is more common in people with allergies, asthma and atopic dermatitis. People without these conditions can have cholinergic urticaria, too. There is also a rare form of cholinergic urticaria that is inherited.

Men and women can have this condition, but it seems to be more common in men. It is most common between ages ten and thirty. Episodes are usually brief. They can last from half an hour to an hour. In severe cases there may be abdominal cramping, diarrhea, headaches and other symptoms.

Cholinergic urticaria is a form of physical urticaria. “Aquagenic urticaria” appears in some people after exposure to water—both cold and hot. “Pressure urticaria” can appear after pressure is applied to the skin. People with one type of urticaria often have another type.

An oral antihistamine can help reduce the symptoms of urticaria. See your doctor if your symptoms get worse. And take care of your skin by using a mild, unscented soap. If your skin is dry, use an unscented moisturizer after you wash.

Showering is an art form. No really. You’re washing your hair and scrubbing your body clean. You’re trying not to ruin your fancy products in there. You’re implementing all the dermatologist-recommended hacks that promise silky skin. And, heck, maybe you’re even getting busy with your boo. There’s a lot that goes down in the shower, for sure.

But sometimes, no matter what you think you’re doing right, the result isn’t the so-fresh-and-so-clean feeling you expected. Case in point: For some folks, stepping out of the shower equals itchy skin. If this is one of the shower-time woes you struggle with, the good news is that itchy skin after showering is actually pretty common, and in most cases, easy to fix. Here are some of the things that might be causing the itchy post-shower feeling and some pro tips on how to make it stop once and for all.

What are the causes of itchy skin after a shower?

Your skin is dry: According to Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, dry skin is one of the most common reasons people get itchy skin after a shower. The dryness can be due to a number of things including very cold or dry temperatures, indoor heating that reduces moisture in the air, or washing your skin a little too often.

You’re taking too hot of a shower: In this world, there are two types of showerers. You have those who prefer comfortable, lukewarm showers, and those who live for their super hot (read: borderline scalding) showers. If you fall into the latter category, chances are it’s the hot shower itself that might be causing your skin to itch. “When you finish your shower or bath, the water that is left on your skin evaporates, and as it does, it sucks moisture from your skin,” says Sandra Lee, MD, dermatologist and founder of SLMD Skincare also known as Dr. Pimple Popper. “This dryness is exacerbated by taking hot showers because heat causes more evaporation.”

Your cleanser may be the culprit: If you’re a self-professed cleanser queen, itchy skin might be a sign that you need to simplify. “Heavy use of soaps and cleansers strip the natural oils that moisturize our skin from our bodies,” Dr. Lee says. “This leads to more dryness, and dryness leads to itchiness, which can lead to redness and scaling.”

There may be an underlying condition: If the itchy skin after showers is chronic and isn’t going away, Dr. Axe says it could be a sign of an underlying condition ranging, such as contact dermatitis (aka you’re reacting to a product in your skin-washing regimen) or eczema.

How can I deal with itchy skin after a shower?

Take shorter, cooler showers: Taking short, cool showers is the first (and easiest!) thing Dr. Axe says you can try to ease the post-shower. Think warm not scalding.

Use a gentle cleanser: If you have an inkling that perhaps it’s your cleanser that’s making your skin itchy, Dr. Sonia Batra, board-certified dermatologist and co-host of The Doctors recommends switching to a gentle cleanser made for dry, sensitive skin, which tend to use kinder surfactants. Harsh soaps with bright colors, strong lathers, and fancy fragrances will only dry out your skin even more, she says. Live by these words: The simpler the cleanser, the better.

Apply moisturizer while you’re still damp: Although your first instinct might be to grab your towel to dry off as soon as you get out of the shower, Dr. Lee says to pat dry and slather your body in moisturizer while you’re skin is damp to help lock in the moisture. You can also reapply moisturizer throughout the day as needed.

Be sure to stay away from moisturizers with fragrances as they can create irritant reactions with already-itchy skin. Instead, Dr. Axe recommends natural skin moisturizers that are rich in jojoba oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, cocoa butter, and shea butter. If you need something more heavy duty for those extremely dry patches, Dr. Lee suggests trying a thick, occlusive ointment to spot treat.

Pinpoint the environmental triggers: If the after shower itchiness is chronic, Dr. Axe suggests doing a bit of investigative work to try to nail down what might be triggering it. It could be a number of things in your environment including cosmetic products, laundry detergents, soaps, and lotions. Keep a notebook handy and write down when the itchiness happens and remember what products you used or what other environmental factors might have caused the reaction.

Go see a professional: If you’ve switched to cooler showers, swapped out your soaps, and tried to pinpoint the triggers and still have no relief, then it’s likely time to go to see a board-certified dermatologist. They’ll help you get to the root of what’s causing the itchiness or prescribe you a topical cream or something else that can ease the itch.

FYI: A derm uses this soap for her face and body and make sure to lather up without a loofah, because if you haven’t heard, they’re disgusting.

Avoid ‘winter itch’ — and know when to see a doctor

Winter can be brutal for skin. For many people, it’s the season of the itch.

Some skin conditions need special treatment and care from a dermatologist, like me. But dry, itchy skin usually can be prevented and treated with these steps:

1. Moisturize.

2. Moisturize.

3. Moisturize.

It just can’t be stressed enough. Even when your skin feels moisturized to you, place one more layer of cream or lotion on your skin.

Creams tend to be more hydrating, but lotions also can be effective. If you prefer ointments, that’s fine, too. Just rub them in well and apply often – even before your skin feels dry.

If dry, winter air outpaces your moisturizing efforts, your skin may crack, and the open wounds that follow can lead to infection. It’s a common problem for people with eczema, but even those with typical skin can encounter this without proper moisturizing.

What to avoid

  • Hot showers – They can aggravate and dry out your skin. Downgrade to a warm shower, and when you get out, don’t dry off before applying moisturizer. (Some moisturizers I recommend for patients: petroleum jelly, coconut oil and creams by Cetaphil, Cerave, Aquaphor, Vanicream and Aveeno.)
  • Dry air – A humidifier can add moisture to the air in your home. Many people find that humidifiers not only help their skin, but they also prevent uncomfortable dryness in their nose, mouth and throat.
  • Exposure to cold air and wind – Gloves, scarves and other winter accessories are essential to reducing skin damage outdoors.

What if it’s more than just dry skin?

Winter makes some skin conditions worse and more noticeable. Psoriasis and eczema, the most common of these conditions, could at first be mistaken for just dry skin.

Eczema is a group of conditions that make skin red, itchy and inflamed. It can have many causes, but dry, cold air can provoke flare-ups.

Psoriasis symptoms are similar to eczema, but psoriasis sufferers may have red patches that are also silvery and scaly, with thicker, more-inflamed skin.

These two conditions aren’t aggravated by cold temperatures, exactly – you can blame the lack of humidity that accompanies cold air.

When should I see a dermatologist?

No change in your skin is too minor to make an appointment with a dermatologist or primary care doctor, especially if it’s uncomfortable or worrisome to you.

If your skin is simply itchy and dry, you could first consider whether recent changes in your environment or bath products could be drying out your skin. Moisturizing more often or switching to a more hydrating soap could make a world of difference. (Mild soaps unlikely to irritate your skin include Dove for Sensitive Skin, Cetaphil cleanser, Cerave cleanser, Aquaphor Gentle Wash or Vanicream cleansing bars.)

If your skin doesn’t improve or it gets worse, it’s definitely worth seeing a healthcare provider.

If you’re diagnosed with eczema or psoriasis, a dermatologist can help you find the right treatments to reduce flare-ups. For some, the best treatments include prescription ointments or even special types of light therapy.

Less-common skin conditions that are worsened by cold temperatures:

  • Cold hives, or cold urticaria, can appear in cold temperatures as a rash of red, itchy welts that vary in severity.
  • Cryoglobulinemia is a condition that can cause proteins in the blood to clump together and make blood’s plasma thick, syrupy or clumpy in cold temperatures. Symptoms include Raynaud’s phenomenon, numbness, tingling and swollen ankles and legs.
  • Pernio, or chilblains, is a condition in which cold temperatures inflame small blood vessels in the skin, leading to red, itchy patches and sometimes swelling, blistering or burning sensations.
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon happens when cold temperatures affect circulation in fingers, toes or other extremities. Those areas might feel numb and turn white or blue, and they’ll feel prickly or painful when they return to warmth.

These issues, like many skin conditions, range from mild to severe. They could simply cause discomfort, or they could lead to infection, permanent tissue damage or other problems when not treated properly. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor if you experience these symptoms.

Desmond M. Shipp, MD, is an assistant professor of clinical dermatology at The Ohio State University and a dermatologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Dermatology East.

Why Soap Is the Least Natural Way to Clean Your Skin

Our skin is our largest organ and plays an integral role in keeping us healthy. It protects us from disease and injury and helps regulate body temperature, so keeping our skin in great shape is vital to maintaining overall health.

While soap is sold to us as an exfoliating must — it removes dead skin cells and carries away oils and dirt — it also might be one of the things that does more harm than good.

Conventional soaps can damage your skin

It’s been well documented over the years that conventional soaps, which are made by mixing fat or oil with an alkali such as lye, can wreck skin by changing its pH, obliterating healthy bacteria, and stripping away vital oils.

The pH of your skin really matters

Healthy skin pH is around 5.5, which is slightly acidic, but most conventional soaps have a much higher pH, sometimes as high as 11.

“When the skin’s pH is too high, your body produces excess sebum to fight back and restore its natural pH levels. However, the soap residue ensures the disruptive pH is maintained,” says independent beauty chemist David Pollack. “The end result is that skin can become too oily. If that isn’t bad enough, soap residue emulsifies or binds to the skin’s lipid matrix.”

How long it takes to damage our skin’s acid mantle (a protective layer of oils, fatty acids, and amino acids) can vary, but signs of damage include increased dryness, itching, irritation, and inflammation. All this can also worsen skin conditions such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, and rosacea.

And what would help some of those symptoms? The oils that conventional soap strips away!

These oils serve an important function in keeping skin moisturized and intact. Without them, our skin becomes susceptible to cracks, tears, and other irritation that can jeopardize its function as a protective barrier.

Pollack, who has formulated best-selling products for popular brands like L’Oréal, Smashbox, Bliss, and SkinCeuticals explains, “When you rinse your skin, a layer of the protective barrier is actually washed away, leading to even drier skin.”

Basically, our current ingrained cleaning process can actually make it harder for your skin to heal and protect itself. But it’s possible — and really easy — to get your skin back to its optimal, self-sustaining state.

How to ditch your soap for good

If you’re not sure what’s in your soaps, your best bet is to throw them out. Bar soaps are generally the harshest because they have a higher, more alkaline pH than that of normal skin. Bodywashes and shower gels are made differently, with surfactants or emulsifiers, and are closer to our skin’s natural pH. All three types of soap dissolve and rinse away vital oils our skin needs.

The good news, though, is that soap is pretty much unnecessary

Yep. You don’t need to use conventional soaps in your daily hygiene routine.

All you absolutely need, bare bones, to stay clean is water. Just water.

Water does a fine job of rinsing away dirt without stripping vital oils from your skin. Also, avoid those luxurious long, hot showers. Just a few minutes under the spray is enough to rinse away a day’s accumulation of dirt, and any longer might dry your skin.

You can choose to use a mild cleanser on your armpits and genitals if you’re super concerned, but unless you’ve been sweating heavily or rolling around in literal dirt, don’t worry, you won’t stink (but if you really need sleep, we’ll give tips on finding the best soap below).

1. Try oil cleansing

One option is cleansing oils. Though it may seem counterintuitive to slather your skin in oil to get clean, it’s a much healthier alternative than soaps.

Oil-based cleansers trap dirt and dead skin cells, allowing them to be rinsed without disrupting the oil barrier already in place. One trick to remember is to oil up before entering in the shower. Newer oil-based cleansers are manufactured to produce a light lather when it gets wet that rinses easily without damaging your skin or leaving a residue.

Pro-tip: Consider adding a mat to your shower floor to prevent slips and bruised bottoms — and pride.

2. Brush dead skin cells off

Dry brushing is another effective way to remove dead skin cells and dirt from the surface of your skin, while also promoting the production of healthy oils. Dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like: you brush your skin, while dry, with a natural fiber brush.

The movement of the bristles over your skin helps exfoliate and remove dirt. There’s also some evidence that brushing the skin helps to promote lymphatic drainage, thereby serving as a detox not just for your skin but for your whole body.

To try dry brushing at home, you’ll first need a good quality, natural bristle brush, available in the bath aisle at most stores.

Dry brushing instructions

  • Begin at your feet and brush upward, following the contours of your body.
  • Moving the brush in clockwise circles, apply comfortable pressure — softer on thinner skin, more forceful on thicker skin.
  • Always brush toward the center of your chest.
  • After brushing your lower extremities, abdomen, and chest, brush your arms, toward the body from your palms.
  • After you’ve brushed your entire body, shower in cool water and apply your preferred moisturizer.

3. Make your own all-natural scrub

For the DIYer, there are literally thousands of different recipes for products you can make right in your own kitchen. From salt and sugar scrubs to oatmeal and honey exfoliators, the list goes on.

Brit+Co has a few all-natural recipes that will scrub off dead skin cells and keep your body nicely hydrated without damaging your skin’s natural barrier. But your own mix can be as simple as oatmeal, honey, and plain yogurt — or avocado oil, honey, and sugar! Just remember to avoid your face as the skin there is more delicate and sugar crystals can cause micro tears.

Always patch test: As with any new product you try or make, be sure to test it on a small area of your skin for at least 24 hours and see if you have any adverse reactions.

What about natural soaps?

If you’re not quite ready to drop soap, consider a natural or handmade small-batch soap. Handmade soaps tend to be less harsh than commercially produced bars and generally use higher-quality fats and oils during the saponification process. Good ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, or olive oil are often the base for these soaps, whereas commercially produced bars use harsh ingredients and low-quality oils and fats.

Double-check ingredient and avoid:

  • sodium lauryl sulfate
  • sodium laureth sulfate
  • phthalates
  • parabens
  • synthetic coloring agents (FD&C Yellow, etc.)
  • artificial fragrance
  • Pro-tip: To research specific products, look through the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database.

Some popular, fan-favorite brands like Meller & Maude and Colorado Aromatics provide high-quality, small-batch soaps created with natural ingredients that’re gentler than conventional soaps.

Are you ready to say goodbye to soap?

Considering how soap can negatively impact the naturally occurring bacteria, or microbiome, that lives on your skin surface, it may be time to ditch this cleansing agent for good.

Quick soap reminders for your best skin

  • Conventional soaps can damage your skin barrier and prevent it from functioning optimally.
  • Ditch your soap and opt for cleaning with water, oils, dry brushing, or all-natural options.
  • Keep an eye out for harmful ingredients — use EWG’s Skin Deep app for product research.

After all, a healthy and functioning microbiome is a crucial element to maintaining healthy skin. Don’t wash out the “good” bacteria in an effort to get rid of the “bad” bacteria. Let your body care for itself and be its own armor.

Kristi is a freelance writer and mother who spends most of her time caring for people other than herself. She’s frequently exhausted and compensates with an intense caffeine addiction. Find her on Twitter.

We’ve Been Showering All Wrong, According to Experts

1. Cool it down

Steaming hot showers may feel amazing, but the hot water removes your natural oils and dries out the moisture from our skin like nothing else, says Lauren Ploch, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Georgia.

So, if you really need a fix, spend a couple minutes max in hot water, then turn it down to lukewarm — aka not hot enough to make your skin red.

2. Keep it short

Your shower should ideally last 5 to 10 minutes, says Marie Jhin, MD, a Silicon Valley-based dermatologist. And remember, it’s all about quality, not quantity.

Showering more than once a day can seriously dry out your skin, Jhin says. Though it seems like more water means more moisture, it’s actually the opposite — over-showering strips the skin, making it even drier.

Refuse to accept a life without that toasty-warm, sinus-clearing shower feeling? Us too. One good alternative is a space heater for your bathroom, says Karyn Grossman, MD, a dermatologist at Grossman Dermatology in Beverly Hills.

And you can skip that final ice-cold rinse, supposedly for shinier hair. You’d have to go all out to make any difference to hair, Grossman says. So, unless you don’t mind a daily polar plunge, it’s usually not worth the displeasure.

3. Lather, rinse, repeat

Once you’ve found the right temperature, get your shampoo out of the way first. And although “lather, rinse, repeat” has been around since the dawn of time (and marketing), Grossman says you only need to “repeat” if you have a super oily scalp. Everyone else, feel free to disregard.

Then slap conditioner on the ends of your hair and let it sink in. In general, use more for thick hair and less for thinner strands.

The warm, wet environment works magic: Follicles open up, letting the conditioner sink in extra deep and making it more effective than if you had rinsed off immediately, Grossman explains. Wait until the end of your shower, then use a comb to detangle hair.

If you’re prone to breakouts, make sure to wash your face again once the conditioner’s out. This is because the oils can cause acne, says J. Scott Kasteler, MD, a dermatologist in Kentucky.

4. Lose the loofah

Blame it on Legally Blonde, but we’ve always had a loofah hanging in the shower. The problem? Ploch says people tend not to clean loofahs and hang onto them past their prime — usually just 2 months — making them a breeding ground for bacteria.

A better choice would be a washcloth, she says, which people find easier to remember to clean every week, or to just use your hands.

5. Clean where it counts

Another shortcut: You really only need to cleanse areas with high density of sweat glands, like the groin, the buttocks, underneath the breasts, and the armpits, Grossman says. Soaping up your whole body every single time actually strips your skin of necessary oils, especially in areas like your shins or arms.

And while those body washes that smell like the Amazon rainforest or fields of lavender are tempting, feel free to keep it simple. Go for a gentle cleanser and don’t overdo it.

Should you wash your legs? Plus 6 other showering tips

In May 2019, Twitter user Conor Arpwel had Twitter users in an uproar when he tweeted out a simple poll question — do you wash your legs when you take a shower? While it may seem random, it’s an interesting question to ponder.

The poll, which generated over 852,000 votes, was split 80-20, with the majority of voters stating yes, they wash their legs while showering. Days later, comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres put up the same poll on her own Twitter account, which garnered similar results.

This entire debate left us wondering if we should be washing our legs when showering. And what about the rest of the body? Is there a proper way to bathe from head to toe?

To settle the debate once and for all — and to learn the best way to take care of your skin while showering — we turned to Vinod Nambudiri, MD, an HCA Healthcare dermatologist.

Why bathing is important

First things first: Bathing should be a regular part of most everyone’s normal routine, and it’s likely you know why. But as a reminder, regular bathing helps to remove sweat, dirt and dead skin cells, while also preventing body odor. If you don’t bathe, sweat can mix together with germs that, in some cases, make their way inside the body through cuts and scrapes, causing more serious problems like infections.

Should you shave your legs?

The Twitter users who defended not washing their legs argued that soap and water tend to drip when cleaning other parts of the body, so focusing on them is not necessary.

While it is true that soap and water trickle down, “I do recommend deliberately rinsing them with water,” says Nambudiri. Plus, if you’re in the shower or bath already, it’s the logical thing to do. But unless they are visibly dirty, you probably don’t need to wash your legs as thoroughly as areas like your under arms or groin.

If you’re shaving your legs, it may be a good idea to prime them before — and rinsing them off is a great way to do it. “Make sure your legs are wet before you begin shaving, so your hair and skin will be softer, which will help wash away dead skin and oils that accumulate on the skin surface,” says Nambudiri. A good rule of thumb is to shave your legs at the end of the shower.

Bottom line? While you may not need to spend a lot of time cleansing your legs, it’s a good idea to rinse them off each time you take a shower or bathe.

6 bathing tips everyone should know

Now that you know it’s a good idea to give your legs a quick rinse, you may be curious to know about the rest of your body. Bathing is a very individualized process, since everyone’s skin is different, and some may have conditions that require special treatment or products.

How often you need to shower also varies from person to person. If you’re sweating more or your body is dirty, it’s likely you’ll need to shower more often. However, there are some general tips that most of us can follow when it comes to keeping your body clean:

1. Start at the top

When bathing and showering, you should consider starting at the top of your body, then working your way down. “Shampoo and condition your hair first since some of those products can linger on your skin if you save them until the end,” says Nambudiri. “Lingering products can promote things like acne or skin irritation, especially on the face.”

Then, move on to cleansing your face, followed by the upper body, lower body and then feet. This will ensure the products you’re using are properly washed away.

2. Pay special attention to the dirtiest spots

When you’re bathing, it’s especially important to focus on the areas of your body that tend to be the dirtiest. “The areas that have a greater number of sweat glands should certainly be cleaned every day,” says Nambudiri.

The most common culprits are the groin regions, under the breasts, armpits, the underbelly area or any other place where skin folds overlap upon each other. The crevices of the elbows, the backs of the knees and feet also tend to have sweat buildup, too.

3. Cool it down

Although it can be tempting to make the water temperature too hot, doing so can dry out your skin. “Hot water actually washes away more of the natural oils, which our bodies produce to hydrate our skin,” says Nambudiri. Stick to warm water when you’re bathing, and don’t stay in any longer than needed.

4. Choose a mild cleanser

“If you’re choosing between a soap and a cleanser, cleansers are usually mild and less harsh, and probably won’t strip away the oils of the skin,’ says Nambudiri. This is because they’re less likely to contain the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a common skin irritant. Cleansers typically work whether you have oily or dry skin.

It can also be helpful to pick a cleanser with a moisturizing component to it, he adds. “A moisturizer can counteract any of the drying that comes with cleansing the skin.’

5. Don’t over-exfoliate

Exfoliation, the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, can be tricky. If done correctly, exfoliation can lead to brighter, more youthful looking skin, but overdoing it can have the opposite effect, causing the skin to become red and irritated.

“If you use anything that’s like a scrub, you want to be somewhat gentle,” says Nambudiri. “There’s a fine line between exfoliation, which is turning over dead skin cells, and excoriation, which is actually stripping off the healthy skin cells that are on the top layer of the skin.”

Instead of exfoliating every day, opt for just a few times a week on areas like your face. Men should focus on hair-bearing areas like the chest or back, since they tend to have more dead skin cells. It’s best to apply the product in a small, circular motion until the beads or grittiness dissolves, but don’t rub the area for longer than 30 seconds. Rinse with lukewarm water when you’re done. Never exfoliate if you have any sort of open cut or wound.

The type of exfoliation and how often you need to do it will all depend on your skin type, so talk with your healthcare provider to learn what’s best for you.

6. Pat-dry and moisturize post-shower

Nambudiri suggests gently patting skin dry post-shower, since rubbing can cause irritation. Then, make a habit of moisturizing the skin 2-3 minutes after showering since your skin is still moist.

So, the next time you hop in the shower, don’t forget to quickly rinse your legs and practice these healthy skin habits that are sure to keep your body clean, from head to toe.

Medically reviewed in July 2019. This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.

Dry skin after shower

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