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Is It Bad To Wash Your Face In The Shower? We Dive Into The Debate

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
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No matter how many products you layer in your skin care routine, a good cleanser is a nonnegotiable. But the different techniques for washing your face aren't so set in stone, which has sparked some heated conversation in the beauty space. In addition to the great double-cleanse debate, there are some people who keep their favorite cleansers in the shower, and those who stick to the sink, no matter how sopping wet they might be, which raises the question: Is it bad to wash your face in the shower? 

Here's the simple truth: There's not really a right or wrong answer. Washing your face in the shower certainly has its drawbacks, unless you're taking the correct measures to make sure your skin stays hydrated. Here's what the experts have to say on the matter.

The cons of in-shower cleansing

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Hot water isn't a a great option

Hot water can be super drying, which is why you might not want to take long, scorching hot showers to begin with. "Apply the same thinking to your face," says celebrity facialist and founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare Cecilia Wong. While it might take some time for you to notice the drying effects on your body, the skin on your face is much more delicate. Board-certified dermatologist Nava Greenfield, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Brooklyn, agrees: "Skin on the face is more sensitive and needs to be treated more carefully."

You need to shorten your shower time

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So if you're one to hop into the steam for a lengthy, spa-grade lather (it happens!), you might want to save the face wash for after the shower. Especially if you have sensitive skin, as extreme water temps can even cause broken capillaries for some thin-skinned folk. Let's say you stick to a lukewarm shower and a hop-in, hop-out rinse: Are you good to go? Again, it depends, as this is when product order comes into play. If you're washing your hair, imagine all the residue sopping down your face as you rinse. That's another reason you may want to save the face wash for last—you don't want all the buildup and oil lifted from your scalp clogging your pores as it runs down your face. It's nothing to be too caught up in; you'll just want to make sure face wash is the final step. 

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It's more difficult to use speciality products

Double cleansing is a popular method, and for good reason! Cleansing oils and balms are great to take off makeup and prep the skin for a formal cleanse. But, these special products are meant to be used on dry skin and then emulsified with a little bit of water before rinsing (if you want a full double-cleansing breakdown, we've got it). This makes it pretty hard to reap the benefits of a cleansing balm in the shower. But if you are inclined to do so, use your cleansing balm or oil to take off your makeup or SPF before you step into the shower. Then, at the end of your shower, go in with your normal face cleanser.

The pros of washing your face in the shower

Steam may help your skin

Assuming you mind all the criteria above, washing your face in the shower isn't so bad. Sometimes, a shower can even enhance the experience. Case in point: enzyme masks. According to Chase Polan, founder and lead alchemist of Kypris, enzymes tend to work better when the temperature of your skin is increased. That's because the chemical reaction that causes their exfoliation becomes faster and more powerful with increased temperature—and a lukewarm shower does just the trick. 

Even if you don't opt for an enzyme mask, the shower steam can help open up those pores before you cleanse (there's a reason facialists often use steamers during their treatments). As mentioned, just make sure you stick to a lukewarm shower on the shorter side—around 10 minutes, says Wong. 

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It's undeniably convenient

We can't talk about facial cleansing in the shower without mentioning the obvious—it's pretty convenient. You're already in the shower, so adding one step seems a lot easier than doing so after the shower. Especially if you shower in the morning and evening, and cleanse your face twice a day, it seems to line up quite nicely.

Multi-use product friendly

Now if you're a beauty minimalist, you may even use a body wash that doubles as a face cleanser. So if this is you, it's much easier to get it all done in the shower so you're not carrying your product back and forth. If you're wondering is it okay to use my body wash for my face? keep reading.

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Can you use body wash on your face?

This isn't a yes or no scenario because the answer depends on what product you're using and your skin type. We must note that many body washes aren't necessarily fit for the face, so make sure yours is labeled as such before deciding to go for the 2-in-1 route.

Most body soaps will be too sudsy for your face, whereas face cleansers are usually creamier or use more hydrating active ingredients. Additionally, if you have specific skin concerns (acne, fine lines, etc.) you likely want a face wash to target that. Or if you're using a cleansing oil or balm, you likely don't want to cover your whole body with that given that these face products can get pretty expensive.

Do you always need to wash your face with face wash?

Short answer? Not necessarily. In the morning you can just use water, but in the evening you should use a wash to remove dirt, pollution, and makeup. That being said, it really depends on your skin type, activity level, environment, and so on. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, it may be beneficial to go in with a gentle cleanser in the morning and a stronger cleanse at night. But if you have sensitive or dry skin, cleansing twice a day may do more harm than good. Our suggestion? Good old trial and error. Skin care is a personal and experimental journey, so always go with what works best for you. We took a deeper look at how often you should cleanse and all of the factors to consider here if you want more explanation.

No matter what you decide, don't get distracted post-wash—perhaps the biggest mistake people make during their skin care routine. When you don't work fast enough to seal in that hydration (serums, moisturizers, oils, and the like), the water will evaporate into the air and leave your skin even drier than before. So if you do wash your face under the spray, be sure to dive right into the rest of your routine as soon as you towel off. As Wong notes: "Overall, it doesn't matter where you wash your face, as long as your skin is getting the right care it needs."

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The takeaway.

To sum up, it doesn't matter too much if you wash your face in the shower or not, as long as you're mindful of your technique. If you are going for an in-shower wash, don't forget to use any cleansing balms or oils before you get your face wet, go for lukewarm water rather than hot, and cleanse your face last. Arguably the most important part is what comes next—replenishing hydration to your skin. Make sure to follow up with your skin care routine, including a hydrating face moisturizer, sooner rather than later after you step out to ensure your skin isn't thirsty for too long.

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