October 2, 2022

I unintentionally sent a shockwave through my Instagram community when I casually told a follower to “stop washing your face in the shower.” My direct messages were immediately flooded with “WHAT?” “How dare you?” “please explain more,” and a few people questioning, even as a board-certified dermatologist, if I should really be giving skin advice in the first place.

I have learned a lot about face washing culture since that day, and I’m here to clear the air about the subject. Is it or is it not okay to wash your face in the shower? Let’s discuss.

Is it Good or Bad to Wash Your Face in the Shower? 

The simplest answer is: it is okay to wash your face in the shower.

Personally, it resembles military forms of torture too closely for me to find enjoyment in the act. Still, there is no practical reason why washing your face in the shower is bad, assuming you’re using the right products and techniques. In fact, many people (so many people) have pointed out some very valid points about washing your face in the shower—it prevents the absolute mess that accompanies washing your face at the sink, it allows multiple angles to rinse your face and neck properly, and it’s efficient!

So, assuming you are using the right products—it is absolutely fine to wash your face in the shower. It is also absolutely fine to wash your face at the sink. This is a personal choice, and you’re allowed to do what feels good on any given day.

Is Shower Water Too Hot For Your Face? 

It shouldn’t be. Although hot showers can provide physical and emotional release, especially in the wintertime, they damage the skin. Hot water strips the skin of moisture which can result in dry skin and a damaged skin barrier. This means that if the shower water is too hot for your face, it’s probably too hot in general. Your everyday go-to shower water should be lukewarm, which is perfectly fine for your face; if you need to have a steamy shower to unwind, either turn down the temperature before washing your face or wash your face outside of the shower that day.

Is It Bad to Use Bar Soap On Your Face in the Shower? 

Again, it shouldn’t be. Harsh soaps are also a common cause of dry skin and damaged skin barriers. It is a good skincare philosophy to treat your body skin as well as your facial skin. This means using gentle cleansers that effectively remove sweat and dirt without stripping the body of its natural oils for both the face and the body. Dove beauty bar soap is an excellent body and facial cleanser.

Of course, your face may have different cosmetic concerns and a different cleanser budget than the rest of your body. If this is the case, keep a dedicated facial cleanser in the shower.

What is The Right Technique For Washing Your Face? 

Although there is no right place to wash your face, there is a right way to wash your face. Let’s review.

First, wet your face. Apply a quarter-size amount of cleanser onto your fingertips and massage into the face lightly (emphasis on the lightly). Your hands should glide over your skin. Avoid pressing into the skin or causing any physical pressure. Let the face wash sit onto the skin for approximately 20 seconds, and then thoroughly rinse. Always follow with serums and/or moisturizers within a minute to lock in moisture. If you’re using a bar soap and washcloth, the technique is the same but make an effort to use a gentle cleansing cloth that is not abrasive on the skin and avoid pushing the cloth into the skin; it should glide.

Pro tip: If you’re using a cleanser with active ingredients, you can increase their effectiveness by letting them sit on the skin for a little longer. If you’re washing your face in the shower, you can put your cleanser on, wash your body, and then rinse your face. If you’re washing your face at the sink, you can put your cleanser on, brush your teeth, and then wash your cleanser off. And yes, I have heard the rumor that people brush their teeth in the shower. I’m not ready to acknowledge that just yet. Give me time.

The Takeaway

In summary, whether you wash your face in the shower or at the sink is a personal preference. It is okay to wash your face in the shower. It is okay to wash your face at the sink. What matters most is that you focus on using gentle cleansers, warm water, and gentle pressure.