Why are you not supposed to wash your face in the shower?

Quick Answers

There are a few key reasons why washing your face in the shower is not recommended:

  • The water is too hot, which can dry out and irritate skin
  • Shower water contains chlorine and minerals which can be harsh on skin
  • It’s harder to remove makeup thoroughly in the shower
  • You can’t control water temperature as well to open and close pores

Many people wash or scrub their face while showering as part of their regular hygiene routine. It seems quick, convenient, and effective to multi-task and cleanse your face when you’re already getting clean in the shower. However, dermatologists and skincare experts do not actually recommend washing your face in the shower. The water temperature, mineral content, and lack of control can cause more harm than good when it comes to properly caring for your facial skin.

Hot Water

One of the main reasons showering is not ideal for facial cleansing is that the water is often too hot. Hot water may feel soothing and relaxing on your body, but it can damage facial skin. Hot water strips away the skin’s natural moisture, causing dryness. It can disrupt the skin’s protective barrier and cause irritation. Over time, subjecting your facial skin to hot water can lead to inflammation, redness, sensitivity, and even conditions like rosacea.

Water Minerals and Chemicals

Tap water contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and heavy metals that can build up on the surface of skin. Shower water also contains chemicals like chlorine that are added during the municipal purification process. These minerals and chemicals are fine for the rest of your body, but they may irritate and dry out delicate facial skin when applied directly and repeatedly. Rinsing your face under the showerhead can leave mineral and chlorine residue on your skin, leading to redness and inflammation.

Thorough Cleansing

When washing your face in the shower, it is more difficult to cleanse your skin as thoroughly as needed. The pressure from the shower stream can make it tricky to gently massage products across your skin. You also can’t rinse your face as cleanly when you have to hold it under the shower stream. Water drips down your arms and body into your eyes as you try tilting your head back. Without being able to splash water on your face or use your hands adequately, you will likely end up with leftover makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and impurities on your skin.

Makeup Removal

Makeup removal especially requires thorough cleansing that is hard to achieve in the shower. Most makeup contains waxes, oils, and pigments that adhere to skin and won’t budge with just water. Gentle massage, makeup removers, cleansing oils, and face wash are needed to fully dissolve and rinse away makeup residue. Attempting to remove makeup in the shower will likely result in leftover mascara, foundation, and more lingering on your skin. Any leftover makeup can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts.

Exfoliation Needs

Exfoliating your skin to remove dead cells and reveal fresher skin underneath also requires more precision than the shower allows. Face scrubs with exfoliating beads, brushes, enzymatic exfoliants, and chemical exfoliant face washes all require massaging the product across your skin in specific motions. Rinsing off exfoliants thoroughly so they don’t irritate the skin also takes more controlled water application. Exfoliating properly improves skin texture and brightness for a radiant, youthful glow. But the shower makes it difficult to exfoliate your face effectively.

Water Temperature Control

Having proper water temperature control is key when cleansing facial skin. You need to use warm water to open pores and rinse away impurities. But you also need to finish with a splash of cool water to close pores and tighten skin. The constant water temperature of the shower makes it hard to adjust the temperature as needed for proper facial skincare.

Opening and Closing Pores

Washing your face with warm water opens pores, allowing deep cleaning. Hot water should be avoided though, as it can over-open pores and damage skin. After cleansing, you need to splash your face with cool water to tighten and close pores. Closed pores keep out bacteria, oil, and debris that can lead to breakouts and blackheads. Open pores that stay dilated allow gunk to enter and become stuck. The shower’s fixed temperature prevents opening and closing pores optimally.

Skin Tightening

Cool water also tightens and firms up the skin. Alternating warm and cool water while cleansing leaves skin looking refreshed and toned. The cool temperature constricts blood vessels underneath the skin, reducing puffiness. Tightened, toned skin after a proper skincare routine with temperature variations makes your complexion look healthy and vibrant. Without controlled temperature changes, washing your face in the shower will miss out on benefits like skin tightening.

Technique and Products

Washing your face in the shower reduces your ability to use proper technique and skincare products. You can’t fully control the water flow and temperature on your skin. Your range of motion is limited trying to wash your face under the shower stream. And using multiple facial cleansers or treatments becomes challenging in the shower environment.

Cleansing Techniques

Massaging cleansing products onto your skin in circular motions is recommended for thorough cleaning. This lifts away impurities from pores and improves circulation. In the shower, the water pressure pushing down on your face makes it difficult to massage products across your skin. You also can’t fully rinse off cleansers with your head tilted back and water falling down toward your eyes. The right cleansing techniques are obstructed when trying to wash your face in the shower.

Multi-Step Routines

Most skincare experts advise using multiple products as part of your facial cleansing routine. For example, you may use a makeup remover first, followed by an exfoliating cleanser, then a clay mask, and finally an antioxidant serum. But juggling multiple products in the shower is challenging. The noise, steam, confined space, and water spray make it difficult to layer on several facial products. Keeping track of bottles and application becomes frustrating and messy in the shower.

Skincare Step Benefits
Makeup remover Dissolves makeup, sunscreen, etc
Facial cleanser Deep cleaning of pores
Exfoliant Sheds dead skin cells
Mask Purifying and nourishing
Toner Restores pH balance
Serums Target specific concerns

Potential Skin Damage

Not only does shower face washing fail to properly cleanse and treat your skin, but it can actively damage your facial skin over time. The hot water, minerals, and chemicals can compromise your moisture barrier and lead to issues like:

Dry, Dehydrated Skin

When your moisture barrier becomes damaged, your skin can’t retain hydration properly. Lack of moisture leads to dry, flaky, tight, dehydrated skin. Over-washing in the shower can dehydrate skin and exacerbate conditions like eczema. Tight, parched skin is more prone to developing fine lines and wrinkles prematurely as well.

Irritation and Sensitivity

Frequent exposure to hot water, chlorine, and minerals from showering can cause facial skin to become sensitized. Your complexion may feel tight, itchy, or irritated after showering. Redness and inflammation can occur and leave skin tender to the touch. Sensitive skin is reactive and more prone to breakouts.


Between leftover makeup, stripped moisture, minerals building up, and opened pores, washing your face in the shower often correlates with increased breakouts. The hot shower environment encourages bacteria growth, allows dirt buildup in pores, and creates conditions prime for clogging and acne.

Premature Aging

Facial skin needs proper hydration, gentle cleansing, and protection to stay youthful. Showering can promote collagen and elastin breakdown along with skin cell damage. This accelerates aging as fine lines and sagging skin develop earlier. Your complexion appears older and more tired when you don’t nurture its moisture and handle it with care.

Gentle Alternatives

Fortunately, you have many options for effectively cleansing your face outside the shower. Creating a nurturing skincare routine tailored for your own skin’s needs is easy with the right practices and products.

Sink Cleansing

The ideal place to wash your face is at your bathroom or kitchen sink. Here, you can control the water temperature and pressure. You won’t have excessive minerals or chlorine hitting your skin. You can take your time massaging in cleansers and rinsing them away. Having a mirror nearby helps you see what you’re doing as you gently handle your delicate facial skin.

Micellar Water

For an ultra-mild facial cleanse, use a micellar water. These purified waters contain micelles that attract and lift away oil, makeup, and impurities without any rubbing or rinsing needed. Simply apply micellar water to a cotton pad and wipe across your skin. The micelles cling to and remove gunk while hydrating skin, perfect for sensitive complexions.

Cleansing Oils

Natural oil cleansers are also gentle yet thorough for removing impurities without stripping skin. These oils dissolve makeup, sebum, and sunscreen. As you massage cleansing oils across your face, the impurities blend with the oil then rinse away cleanly. Your skin will be purified but still retain natural moisture.

Skin Type-Specific Products

Look for cleansers formulated specifically for your skin type. Gel cleansers are great for oily, acne-prone skin. Creamy cleansers often suit normal to dry skin best. You can even find custom-blended cleansers designed for your exact skin concerns. Using products aligned with your skin profile will keep your complexion looking flawless.

Gentle Exfoliation

To remove dead skin cells without irritation, choose a chemical exfoliant instead of a harsh scrub. Chemical exfoliants like glycolic, lactic or salicylic acid dissolve the bonds between dead and living skin cells. This smooths roughness and brightens dullness to reveal fresher skin. Start with applying a chemical exfoliant 1-2 times per week at night.

Hydrating Serums

Serums deliver concentrated active ingredients to skin like antioxidants and peptides. Look for lightweight, hydrating serums with nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, ceramides, and plant oils. Apply a serum after cleansing to boost moisture and treat specific concerns like wrinkles, uneven tone, or breakouts.

Proper Facial Cleansing Tips

Caring for your face daily using proper technique will keep your skin looking its best. Follow these tips for effective, gentle cleansing:

– Use lukewarm water to wet your face first before applying any products

– Choose cleansers tailored for your skin type and needs

– Gently massage products across skin using circular motions

– Rinse thoroughly until no residue remains on your face

– Finish with a splash of cool water to close pores and tighten skin

– Apply serums, moisturizers, or masks right after cleansing while skin is damp

– Blot dry your face with a soft towel – no harsh rubbing

– Cleanse twice daily – mornings and evenings for best results

Morning Routine

Your morning skincare routine should wake up and refresh your skin:

1. Rinse with warm water

2. Cleanse with a gentle, non-drying cleanser

3. Apply an antioxidant vitamin C serum

4. Follow with a lightweight moisturizer

5. Apply mineral SPF 30 sunscreen as the final step

Evening Routine

Your evening routine should remove the day’s impurities and replenish hydration:

1. Remove makeup with cleansing oil or wipes

2. Cleanse with a cream or foaming cleanser

3. Exfoliate 2-3 times per week

4. Apply a hydrating serum with ingredients like hyaluronic acid

5. Finish with a rich night cream or oil

6. Consider using a sleeping mask 1-2 times weekly for an extra moisture boost

The Takeaway

While it may seem convenient, washing or scrubbing your face in the shower is not recommended. The hot water, minerals, potential irritants, and lack of technique and control can actually damage facial skin over time. For clear, glowing skin, nurture your complexion with a proper cleansing routine outside of the shower using skincare products aligned to your skin’s needs. Treat your face gently, and it will reward you in return.

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