Get in, wash, lather, rinse, get out. Having spent the majority of our lives showering on our own, it would be a fair assumption that we have the drill down perfect, right? Wrong. If you’ve been suffering from brittle hair that’s prone to breakage or inflamed, irritated skin, experts have cause to believe that your showering habits could be a part of the problem. If you’re looking to start the day on a positive note for your skin and your strands, here are the showering habits that Dr Madhuri Agarwal, founder of Yavana Aesthetics Clinic, wants you to re-examine closely.
Using extremely hot water
While there are few things more therapeutic after a long day than a hot shower, your hair could be paying the price for those few minutes of relaxation. Celebrity hairstylists around the world, including Deepika Padukone’s go-to, Florian Hurel, recommend opting for a cold water rinse, and with good reason. Dr Agarwal seconds the notion, and explains, “Using hot water for shampooing the hair can affect the pH balance of the scalp and furthermore, cause damage to the hair cuticle. If you’re not a fan of cold water, it is always advisable to wash hair with lukewarm water instead.”
Rubbing the hair harshly
After reading the shampoo label from end-to-end, it might seem tempting to rub in the formula adequately to make the most of the active ingredients. However, Dr Agarwal advises a word of caution. She says, “Vigorously rubbing the hair while shampooing in different directions can ultimately lead to hair breakage while also sensitising the scalp. Instead, massage the shampoo in with your fingertips by applying light pressure and then rinse it off.”
With a dozen other things on your to-do list before heading out the door in the mornings, the conditioner bottle can often go overlooked on your shower shelf. If you’re looking for an incentive to spend those extra five minutes in the shower, the payoff comes in the form of lesser hair fall. The Mumbai-based dermatologist affirms, “It has been observed that skipping conditioner after shampooing the hair can lead to more hair dryness and, as a result, more breakage. It is essential to condition your hair after every shampooing session with a formula that works for your hair type.”
Using a body towel for the hair
On those mornings when you’re in a rush, it might seem tempting to get most of the drying done before you step out of the shower stall. But taking the time out to dry your hair with a separate, dedicated towel comes with its own benefits. “Drying your hair with the same towel used on the body isn’t advisable as the fibres can worsen hair breakage. It helps to use a microfibre towel to gently squeeze the water from hair with lesser strain,” she says. With lesser friction applied to hair, don’t be surprised if you find yourself using fewer anti-frizz hair products after making the switch to microfibre towels.
Not washing your hair often enough
Different hair types require different care, but one thing is unanimous: going too long between two hair washes won’t spell good consequences for the health of your tresses. Indeed, if you’ve been observing increased hair fall, it helps to re-examine your hair wash schedule. Celebrity hairstylist Rod Anker tells us, “Washing your hair often is absolutely alright as it keeps the scalp healthy as perspiration left sitting on the scalp can actually cause more hair fall. Ensure that you use a sulphate-free shampoo for optimal results.”
Using synthetic loofahs
After treating your hair with the care that it deserves, it is time to turn attention to the skin. Or more specifically, the brushes they are being subjected to. Dr Agarwal’s list of no-nos is headlined by synthetic bristles. “It pays to observe caution if you’re using brushes or loofahs every day in the shower as most of them have nylon bristles which can, over time, lead to hyperpigmentation from the friction. Instead, replace it with body scrubs with large granules two-three times a week to exfoliate the body,” she advises.
Drying the skin harshly
Just like the hair, the skin requires some TLC as well as your dry off. Consider harsh rubbing with rigorous movements are off the table if you’re looking to preserve the skin barrier. She adds, “Vigorous towel-drying the body after the shower is done can cause irritation to the skin and damage the skin barrier, if done frequently. As a rule of thumb, always ensure that you gently pat the skin dry with a soft cotton towel and apply a moisturiser to seal in the moisture after a bath.”
Washing your face and body before getting all the hair product out
We get it—you want to wash your face and body while you’re waiting for your shampoo or conditioner to do its work. But pros suggest you wait. Rinse-off shampoos and conditioners may have preservatives that could drip down on your forehead and hairline, that without being washed off, could cause contact irritation and acne. Best way to avoid this? Shampoo, condition, wash it all off and then continue with the rest of your routine.
Using body soaps on the face
More bad news for lazy girls comes in the blanket ban on body soaps for facial use. Tempting as it may be to use one-and-done products on a hectic morning, the composition of most body soaps makes them an unsuitable candidate for the delicate skin barrier of the face. “Using body soaps in lieu of a face wash can alter the pH levels of the face, opening the door to a host of skincare problems. Ensure that you only use a face wash that has been chosen according to your skin type to wash your face,” she cautions.