TBH, I didn’t know there were people who didn’t wash their faces in the shower. (Do you get out and use the sink after? Isn’t it cold? And slippery?) But while conducting some super-scientific research on exfoliation and how doing it too often/too little is not optimal for your skin, I came across some intriguing comment-section discussions re: the aforementioned topic. “Don’t most derms say not to wash your face in the shower?” one commenter wrote. “Because the high pressure and temperature can break capillaries?”
Huh. To set the record straight, we asked board-certified dermatologists Dr. Hadley King and Dr. Rachel Nazarian at Schweiger Dermatology Group for their expert opinions. Do you want the good news first or the bad news? Too late—I already chose.
Internet Commenter Quoted Above kind of knew what she was talking about. “Hot water and temperatures will dilate blood vessels and capillaries,” Dr. Nazarian says. “That can leave skin red and aggravate conditions like rosacea, which ultimately leads to broken and permanently dilated vessels.”
Another concern is moisture loss, Dr. King says. “Facial skin, like all skin, can become too dry if there is too much contact with water. Therefore, a general rule of thumb for showering is make it not too long, not too hot, and not too frequent. If the warmth is limited to lukewarm, then risk of dilating capillaries is minimized.”
But…if you stick to those guidelines, in-shower face-washing is actually perfectly safe. (Burst your bubble, Internet Commenter Quoted Above 😈) “In fact, the hydration and warmth make the skin particularly amenable to gentle exfoliation and thorough cleansing,” Dr. King says. Dr. Nazarian adds you’re also more likely to wash your entire face and rinse thoroughly, which has a valuable upside: fewer breakouts along the hairline.
Just make sure you save your money-maker (no, the other one) for last, Dr. Nazarian says. Shampoo—are you still really using that, though?—and conditioner can leave blemish-producing residue, but that’s nothing some mild cleanser and warm-ish water can’t take care of.