Is It OK to Take Super Hot Showers?

updated Jul 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

For as relaxing as taking a long, hot shower can be everyday, are they really all that good for your skin? We hit up skincare experts Rhea Souhleris Grous, Director of Aesthetics at Union Square Laser Dermatology and celeb-esthetician Renee Rouleau to help us break down the effects—both good and bad—that regularly indulging in hot showers can have on your body.

Too much hot water can aggravate pre-existing skin conditions

“Long hot showers can aggravate pre-existing skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea,” Grous says. “They disrupt the normal protective layer of the epidermis, which also increases the risk of infection, allergies, and other unnecessary skin irritations.”

…and inspire acne breakouts

“Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils and healthy bacteria,” Grous explains, “which plays a major role in keeping moisture in—and the bad stuff out. And because dryness triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, hot water can worsen preexisting acne or cause a breakout.”

Hot showers can be good (when you feel bad)

“The steam from long hot showers can help to decongest nasal passages and relieve a head cold,” Grous says. “And the increased blood flow from a hot shower can relax your muscles, alleviating cramps and muscle pain.”

…and reduce eye puffiness

“The heat of the water dilates lymphatic vessels to and helps drain fluid (wastes and toxins) that builds up in the vessels around the eyes,” explains Rouleau, “So if you are experiencing puffiness around the eyes, this could help remedy the problem.”

…and help you fall asleep faster

“Your body temperature drops when you fall asleep,” Grous explains, “and a hot shower before bed causes your temperature to spike and then quickly drop, making you feel relaxed and sleepy.”

But they are tough on your skin

“A hot shower can also dry out and irritate your skin,” adds Rouleau. “It can strip the skin of natural moisture and damage the skin barrier—which is what you’ve experienced if your skin has ever felt itchy or red when getting out of a very hot shower.”

…and can wreak havoc on your complexion

“Hot showers weaken capillaries, which can cause red veiny lines around the nose and on the cheeks,” says Rouleau. “Capillary walls are very elastic, and repeated dilating (whether this is from hot showers, spicy foods, alcohol, or just genetics) can reduce their ability to contract, causing them to remain visibly enlarged.”

So stick with 10-minute lukewarm showers, if you can.

“As in most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to showering.” Grous says. “Stick with lukewarm showers that don’t last longer than 5-10 minutes, and make sure to moisturize your skin all over after you get out.”