How does bathing affect my skin?

Woman in bathtub. Bubble Bath.
Getting Beautiful Skin Image Gallery Bathing for too long or in water that's too hot can dry your skin out. See more getting beautiful skin pictures.
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You're standing in the shower enjoying the warm, relaxing water when you glance down at your fingers and notice they have more lines and wrinkles than when you hopped in. This wrinkling -- caused by the keratin in the surface layer of your skin absorbing so much water that it expands -- is only temporary, but it might lead you to wonder what other effects daily bathing has on your skin.

Bathing typically involves bringing water into contact with your skin. The water washes away the dirt and oils that have built up during the course of the day. While removing the day's dirt, germs and grime can be beneficial, removing your body's natural oils isn't so good. Your skin needs some oil to keep it moisturized. Too much bathing can cause your skin to dry, crack and peel. One way to counteract this effect is to apply a moisturizer to your slightly damp skin within about three minutes of getting out of the shower [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Keep that water warm instead of hot, and use mild cleansing products that won't add to the dryness [source: Mayo Clinic]. Here are a few other tips to remember about bathing and your skin.


Though it might be hard to drag yourself out of the steamy warmth of the shower, you should watch the clock and consider your age. As you grow older, your skin naturally produces less oil [source: WebMD]. A 30-minute shower in your late 20s might not dry out your skin very much, but the same 30-minute shower in your 30s or 40s might leave your skin looking rough and flaky. Limiting your bath or shower to 15 minutes with lukewarm water should leave you with skin that's both clean and soft.

Also, pay attention to what's in your cleansing product. Deodorant and bar soaps can be harsh and drying. Instead, look for moisturizing body washes and be careful of added perfumes, dyes or scrubbing ingredients that can irritate your skin [source: Bruno].

Lastly, be gentle when drying yourself off. Don't use your towel like a dishrag to dry your skin squeaky clean. Instead, use the towel to carefully pat the excess moisture off your skin.

Before your next bathing session, find out how it can affect your overall skin health by visiting some of the links and articles on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Mature Skin." (Accessed Sept. 24, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Dry Skin." Nov. 26, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 24, 2009)
  • WebMD. "Dry Skin and Itching -- Description." March 5, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 24, 2009)
  • Bruno, Karen. "Women's Skin Care for a Soft Body." WebMD. Aug. 6, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 24, 2009)