You’re standing under the shower, rinsing away the tiredness of the day, when you notice your wrinkly, swollen fingers. It’s a temporary change which takes place when y0ur skin absorbs too much water. You’re used to it. But have you ever wondered that if too much water makes your fingers scaly, can a long shower, no matter how relaxing, be good for you?
Turns out it’s not.
A long shower might remove dirt but along with it it can also remove the essential oils your skin needs. These are natural moisturisers whose absence can cause the skin to peel, crack or turn pale. The ideal time under the shower, then, is less than 10 minutes. Anything more and you can come out a crocodile. In the hierarchy of bathing, the quicker the shower, the better it’s considered. So it’s the traditional Indian bucket bath over shower and shower when compared to the luxurious (but often wasteful) bath.
We also love our hot water especially on cold, wintery days but hot water is not good for the skin. It can rush blood to the surface which can fuel inflammation. Lukewarm water is ideal. Even then, you only get (and need) about 10 minutes.
Often, we’re unkind to our own bodies while bathing. We use our nails to scrub our scalp and aggressive clean our bodies with loofahs. Stop. Aggressive cleaning, no matter how sincere, can lead to redness, rashes and coarse, dry skin. The next time you have an impulse to rinse furiously, remember that you’re not scrubbing pots and pans. Bathe gently.
Watch out for the products you’re using. The detergent in the products is not only not good for the environment, it’s also bad for our skin. And what’s particularly bad is our habit of lathering up. While we get as clean with little soap (ideally: quarter of a tablespoon), we like to build foam mountains on our bodies, leading to a greater concentration of questionable soap on our skin. The same story repeats for our hair and both need to be kept in check.
It’s also important to check how many times do you wash your hair. Fine, brittle hair don’t need more than two washes a week. Washing your hair twice a week is enough to maintain natural oils and balance. But once you’ve washed your hair, don’t rub it vigorously with a towel. Instead, use a microfibre towel with finer threads that are gentler and absorb the right amount of moisture from the hair without damaging them.
This might not be fully in your control but also pay attention to the water. Sometimes, many of us are bathing in hard water which has minerals like calcium and magnesium and are completely unaware. Hard water is neither good for your skin, nor hair. You can use showeheads to filter this untreated water or use the old Indian trick of stirring alum to purify water.