We know. It’s cold out and all you want to do when you get home from (yet another!) long, freezing day at work is to step into a scorching shower to warm up and relax. All together now: ahhhhh….
Okay, not so fast. It turns out that, like many guilty pleasures in life, making too-hot showers a habit can be totally terrible for you, beauty-wise. (Serious bummer, right?!)
Here are five reason you might want to turn down the heat, for the sake of your skin and your hair.
1. You’ll damage your skin cells.
“Extra hot showers can force your skin into a state of stress,” says skincare expert Cecilia Wong. Remember, your outermost layer of skin, the epidermis, is your body’s largest organ—and too-hot water can really damage your skin cells and tissues, which can cause broken capillaries and rashes.
2. You’ll “tear” your skin.
Okay, how gross does that sound? But, literally, hot water can actually cause tiny “tears” in the skin that can lead to cell damage, breakouts and infections, Wong explains. This occurs when the extreme heat from the water causes the skin to burn (and blister). Yikes upon yikes.
3. You’ll aggravate acne.
Speaking of breakouts, hot water in your shower isn’t as purifying and bacteria-killing as you might think. In fact, Wong says that taking a too-hot shower can actually make acne worse and cause it to spread.
4. You’ll seriously dry out your skin.
Because hot water washes away skin’s protective oils, your skin will be dry, tight, and itchy after taking a shower with a too-high temp—which is so not fun to deal with.
5. You’ll damage your hair cuticle.
As far as your tresses go, super hot water has a similarly adverse effect. Kevin Ryan, editorial ambassador for UNITE, explains that—especially if you color your hair— water that’s too hot can open (and damage) the cuticle, which can cause dryness and fading color.
So what should you do in the shower? Wong suggests aiming for lukewarm water—limiting your time to 10-15 minutes—and use a natural, moisturizing body wash to prevent skin from becoming damaged and dry. She adds that taking baths or hanging in hot tubs is safe as long as you do not exceed more than 15 minutes and the water is not boiling hot. “Sitting in extremely hot water for a long period of time is very damaging—think of it as a similar effect to boiling your skin,” she warns.