By Kelly Horne, naturopath
What is better than a hot shower on a cold winter morning? It’s a great feeling but those few minutes can lead to dry skin for the rest of the day. You can also end up more dehydrated. I talk to people so regularly who experience dry skin during winter. One man even told me he went to the doctors with a rash on his back. The doctor had one look at his back and said “that’s not a rash, you just stand under the hot water in your shower for too long!” Sure enough, he reduced the temperature of his shower and the ‘rash’ went away.
Here is a way to shower which helps to avoid dry winter skin
- Turn on your shower as hot as you like until the shower cubicle, floor, the tiles and the air is lovely and warm – this is the secret! It doesn’t take long if you have it high enough.
- Step into the shower and rinse in the hot water for a few seconds if you wish – this is optional. I will occasionally do this on a particularly cold morning after my walk.
- Turn the shower down to the coolest temperature you can that is still comfortable. I have a mixer tap so mine I have just slightly warmer/left from half way.
- Shower as usual but use a soap free/low foaming product. I am currently using EnviroCare sensitive liquid hair and body cleanser which has been wonderful and great for the whole family. Try not to linger in the shower for too long for the benefit of your skin, your water bill and for the environment.
- Here comes the hardest part – Turn the water down to it is quite cold and have a quick rinse under it. I know this sounds awful in the middle of winter but it really isn’t terrible if you are already nice and warm. I rinse off for around 30 seconds but less is fine too. This helps to close up the pores of the skin that have opened with the heat and steam. Added bonus – less frizz if you rinse your hair too!
- Dry off gently with a towel. If you feel the need to use a body moisturiser then go for it. By using this method I no longer feel the need for a body moisturiser. If I do use one I like Vegesorb. It is like the old classic sorbolene and glycerine but it is made from plant-based oils rather than petrochemicals.
- Bonus step – Eat healthy fats – Fat helps to moisturise the skin from the inside out because the cells of our body are made from fat. Fat is important for the strength, hydration and integrity of our skin. Some great sources of dietary fat are gently cooked fish, nuts, seeds, coconut, olive oil and avocado.
Did you know that cold showers offer health benefits beyond just caring for your skin? It can activate the ‘disease fighting’ white immune cells. It can also stimulate the lymphatic system to cleanse the body of waste, bacteria, and microbes by causing the vessels of the lymphatic system to pump the lymph fluid around the body. It also stimulates blood flow, forcing blood to vital organs and oxygenating your whole body. Amazingly it increases what is known as “brown fat”. This type of fat is metabolically active which uses energy rather than storing it! Brown fat, unlike white fat, has been linked to an increased metabolism and lower risk of obesity.
Including cold water in your shower to some degree is also great for its stimulating benefits and will help to increase the feel-good hormones. I have been having mostly cold showers for years and I love the benefit it provides. If you think about it, we were never meant to have hot showers. Our prehistorical cave men ancestors would never have had access to large amounts of hot water so I think it’s a good idea to keep it to a minimum.