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Thursday, September 14, 2017

What’s in a shower, you say? Lots of germs, irritated skin and a flaky scalp, if not had properly. Pay heed to bathing dos and don’ts for a squeaky clean, germ-free you, says Komal Soni

We all take showers. Some more frequently than others. Some first thing in the morning; some after their coffee; others at night before hitting the bed. A shower awakens and readies us for the day, and sometimes puts us to sleep at night. But, most of us put more thought into the products we pick for our shower than the actual shower. Could your bathing ritual be hurting you more than it is helping you? Here are a few shower mistakes you could be making. Learn how to fix them, for a shinier, healthier new you.

You use very hot water
Turning the temperature up can be very tempting. The steaming shower may feel nice, but it may not be doing you any good. Using very hot water strips your skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and itchy. This is because it is these essential oils that keep your skin moist. The scorching hot water also leads to increased blood circulation, turning your skin red and making it erupt in rashes. The damage even extends to your hair, turning it brittle and, in some cases, frizzy in the absence of the natural oils that keep it shiny, strong and manageable. And, if you’ve dyed your hair, the colour will fade faster if you use super-hot water. Make sure that your bathwater is at a lukewarm temperature, or as close to your body temperature as possible, more so if you have dry skin. This preserves your natural oils so that your skin and hair continue to remain soft and glowing.

You overdo the shower gel and soap

A lot of us love lathering up with soap or spooning on handfuls of fragrant shower gel. However, using a lot of shower gel doesn’t clean any better; in fact, it can leave your skin dry, itchy and irritated. It could lead to eczema flare-ups too. Using soap excessively, especially if you use deodorant or anti-bacterial soap, will have the same effect. Instead of pouring large amounts of shower gel into your palm in one go, use small portions on each body part separately. Give up anti-bacterial or deodorant soaps and start using moisturising bars and soap only on the oily, odorous parts of your body — your armpits, buttocks, groin and feet. Excessively soaping your arms and legs will lead to dryness, since these parts are not excessively oily.

You use a germ-laden loofah
You love giving yourself a good scrub with your pretty, pastel-coloured loofah, expecting it to rid you of all the dirt and grime; but how clean is that loofah? Most of us hardly, if ever, wash the loofah that’s expected to keep us clean. This is not just unhealthy, but could also be dangerous. The mesh netting tends to trap dead skin cells as well as dirt. Add to this the warm, moist conditions of your bathroom, and the loofah is ripe for the growth of icky bacteria, mould and fungi, which you end up rubbing unwittingly all over your body. So much for the cleansing shower! Some happy bathers also tend to be very aggressive with the loofah. However, overzealous scrubbing can lead to a build-up of sebum, making your skin oilier than necessary, which, in turn, traps dirt, germs and bacteria. So, be gentle with the loofah, wash it at least once a week and replace it every eight weeks. Better still, ditch the loofah and use your hands for a thorough cleansing, since the synthetic material of the loofah could tear or cut your skin.

You wash your hair too often
If you are one of those people who washes their hair every time they stand under the shower, you are washing your hair too often. This act harms your hair in the same manner as washing it with very hot water does — the daily scrubbing tampers with your hair’s natural oil production, leaving it frizzy and brittle. And, just because the label on the bottle says rinse and repeat doesn’t mean that you wash your hair twice at one go. The only time you need to wash your hair twice is if it’s really, really dirty, but there’s absolutely no need to condition it twice — ever! About that conditioner, leave it in for five minutes only if it’s a treatment of some sort or a masque. A regular conditioner is just as effective when rinsed off right after application. You should shampoo your hair twice a week if it’s fine and thin, and once a week if it’s curly and coarse, since curly hair takes longer to produce the necessary quantity of natural oils. If you just can’t do with washing your hair only once a week, use only conditioner on your tresses halfway through the week.

You use your fingernails to scrub your scalp
Rubbing shampoo into your scalp can feel relaxing — almost like a head massage — but if you’re using your fingernails to do it, then you’re doing it all wrong. Fingernails can scratch your scalp and make it dry and flaky. Another shower mistake is vigorously rubbing strands of your hair between your palms. This can damage your hair and lead to breakage and split ends. Always use your fingertips to scrub your scalp and be gentle on your hair when you’re running shampoo through it.

You don’t rinse properly
Noticed some pimples on your back? You may not be rinsing properly. For your hair to feel light and clean and your skin fresh and healthy, you must thoroughly wash off all the products you use. Failing to do so could lead to a build-up of residue and leave your hair looking weighed down, irritate your skin or even clog your pores, which could lead to acne on your back. Prevent your skin from breaking out into acne by tilting your head while you rinse the shampoo and conditioner off. This way it won’t run down your back but land directly in the drain. Make sure that all the soap or shower gel is rinsed off completely before stepping out of the shower.

You stay under the shower for too long
A long shower is very welcome after a tiring day, but this is a common mistake people make. Exposing your skin to running water for long periods will dry it up, not to mention rid you of those precious natural oils. If you are not washing your hair, a five-minute shower should do the job. Stay no longer than 10 minutes if you are shampooing and conditioning. Keep a clock in the bathroom to time yourself or set an alarm to make sure you stay within this limit.

Include these steps to supercharge your shower:

  • Pat yourself dry with a towel instead of frenzied rubbing to keep your skin moist and healthy.
  • Wrap your hair in a microfibre towel after a wash, to avoid breakage and frizziness. Avoid rubbing your hair dry.
  • Moisturise your still-damp skin within three minutes of taking a shower for maximum absorption.
  • If you must use a deodorant, pick one that does not contain aluminium, because this can result in clogged pores.


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