Showers are part of daily life. You’ve been bathing in some form or fashion since the day you were born, and somehow, you probably still have a lot to learn. We’ve discovered some simple steps you can add to your routine that can make a big impact on your skin and hair. There’s a lot of misleading information out there about proper shower protocol. For example: you shouldn’t condition your roots, you should opt for bar soap over liquid, or you should multitask by washing your face in the shower. These seemingly helpful tips could be doing damage.
When it comes to washing and conditioning your hair, one size doesn’t fit all. Your scalp is the “living” part of this process and needs to be hydrated and cleansed of excess oils. Your “dead” hair strands, however, can become dried out if you shampoo too often. Dermatologist Amy McMichael, M.D. tells the Huffington Post that different ethnicities and hair types call for different treatments. Black and Hispanic people, for example, typically have thicker hair that requires less shampooing. Whatever your shampoo habits, McMichael recommends leaving at least a day in between washes so you’re not stripping your hair of its natural, healthy oils.
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Speaking of scalp health—resist the urge to use your fingernails when massaging shampoo into your hair. Dermatologist Sandy Johnson, MD told Reader’s Digest, “Your fingernails can scratch the scalp and even cause flaking.” Aggressive rubbing may also cause hair damage, including split ends. You’ve likely heard that you should only condition the tips of your hair, but the skin on your scalp needs to be moisturized, too! Just be sure to wash the conditioner out completely and buy the correct products for your hair type.
Here’s one thing you should try right before you end your shower: quickly turn the water freezing cold, then hot, then cold again for 30 seconds. The heat expands your capillaries and increases blood flow, while the blast of cold water, according to Medical Daily, may lead to increased tolerance to stress, weight loss stimulation, and antidepressant effects. Long showers in nothing but hot water also dry out your skin and make you sleepy—the opposite of what you want a morning shower to do.
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After you leave the shower, don’t wait to apply your lotion. It might seem counterintuitive, but post-shower skin is prime for hydration. The heat and humidity in your bathroom will open up your pores, making it easier for lotion to soak into your skin. A few other skin tips? Replace your loofah often (or go without!), and let both your loofah and razor dry completely before you use them again. You should also be gentle when cleaning your skin, and use a body wash with added moisturizers instead of bar soap. These simple tips can significantly improve the way your skin and hair looks and feels.
This post originally appeared on Curiosity.com