Splish Splash, All About the Water in the Bath
I feel like I've said it over and over and over again: Washing your face twice daily is important for ensuring a healthy, clean glow. It's imperative to get the dirt and grime off of your skin so that it's not left to clog pores. Washing and rinsing with water should be as natural as waking up in the morning. Wash, rinse, repeat, right? There's actually more to water than just that, though. And what you do and don't do with it, and its quality and content, can make a big difference!
More Than Meets the Eye
When it comes to your skin, it's not as simple as sauntering into the shower, cranking the hot water and just soaking. In fact, if you're not careful, you're actually doing more harm than good!
Chlorine is a chemical additive used to treat our tap water and make it safe for drinking. If you've ever accidentally inhaled bleach or lost your fingertips because you used it to scrub, you know that it's a very toxic and abrasive chemical substance that is extremely irritating to human skin and lungs. Yet most people shower in it every day. Even a small amount can be harmful over time. When you shower, the heat opens your pores, leaving your skin to absorb large amounts of chlorine from the water and steam. Chlorine oxidizes the skin, releasing oxygen and hydrogen chloride. These gas compounds have been proven to cause tissue damage to our bodies on a molecular level. That shows up as premature signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles or even a rash because the chlorine strips the skin of its natural oils, causing it to crack, according to the New York Department of Health. Some people will try to treat dry skin by soaking in a bath, but they may be doing more harm than good that way. To avoid the harmful effects of chlorine, try using a chlorine filter on your shower, bath, or tap.
Watch Your Temperature
A hot, steamy shower can be so relaxing after a stressful day. In the winter time, soaking in a tub can be a great way to warm up. But hot water can have a negative impact on your skin. According to UPMC Health Beat, hot showers and baths can inflame the skin, causing redness, itching and even peeling (similar to a sunburn), and it can disrupt the skin's natural balance of moisture, robbing you of the natural oils, fats, and proteins that keep skin healthy. Dry skin can increase your chances of infection and actually lead to an over production of oils in an effort to compensate for the lack of moisture. According to Debra Jaliman, M.D., a dermatologist in New York and the author of Skin Rules, turning down the water temperature to about 101-105 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for skin health. That puts it in the "lukewarm to warm" range.
"Hard water" is nothing more than water that contains a high concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium that can show up when groundwater runs through limestone or chalk. Your water might also contain iron, manganese, and aluminum as well. Well water or other groundwater systems are more likely to have hard water because it comes straight from the ground. While safe to drink, hard water can contribute to skin problems. Its primary effect on skin, according to dermatologist Dr. Gaurang Gupta, is skin dryness. "Hard water contains minerals; specifically, calcium, magnesium and iron, which can dry your skin. Minerals drying on the skin can clog pores and cause flaking and itching. Hard water also tends to react with soap to form salts, which can also remain on the skin," says Gupta. Drying the skin out can contribute to secondary conditions like blemishes and acne. Hard water can also cause dermatitis, according to Scottsdale-based dermatologist Jennifer T. Haley. If installing a water softener isn't an option, you can try a water softening shower head to filter out the hardening minerals.