IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Experts share ways to improve your shower routine — plus 14 self-care products to shop

Your self-care routine should be nothing but bliss.
Kara Birnbaum/ TODAY

Regular showers are a simple task for most people. For some, though, it doubles as an invitation to relax, meditate and prioritize self-care. The proper routine can set the tone for the day and give you an extra moment of privacy that you desperately crave.

Now more than ever, more people are prioritizing their time in the shower with elaborate home spa setups and affordable luxuries like shower bombs. In fact, according to Pinterest's 2023 Predicts report, keywords related to shower routine aesthetics saw a +460% increase in search between 2018 and 2022.

Whether you dedicate a lengthy chunk of time bathing yourself or prefer a quick rinse before starting the day, there are some essentials you need (or perhaps you already have!) to make this time even more peaceful and relaxing.

Shop TODAY asked some experts about how to best improve and maximize your routine and space without compromising your hygiene habits and personal time with yourself.

Shower length | Hard vs. soft water | Shower filter benefits | Ideal shower temperature | How to make the most of your shower routine | Features to look for in a body wash | Shower routine products | FAQs | Meet the experts

How long should we shower?

The amount of time we spend showering is a personal choice, but it could also depend on the water flow in our home. "When you have low flow in the shower, you end up cranking the heat up, which is burning electricity and offsets all the water that you’re saving," says hai co-founder Leonard Brody. Technically, the flow rate of the shower causes delay for hot water since the cold water takes longer to be evacuated from the pipes.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average amount of water a person uses in the United States is 82 gallons per day. The water flow in your home can be affected by many factors like square footage, buildup in pipes and household size, which also leads to water pressure problems. The amount you shower can also impact the environment and also your water bill. By taking shorter showers, you're saving up to 10 gallons per minute, according to the New York City Environmental Protection Agency.

For your skin, dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick emphasizes the benefits of shorter showers. She recommends showering for "approximately 10 minutes in lukewarm water to minimize the potential for dryness. Long, hot showers, as good as they may feel, can strip the skin of its natural oils, making it especially important that those with dry or eczema-prone skin take short, lukewarm showers to avoid worsening dryness."

Hard water vs. soft water

One thing to take into consideration during hair-washing days is the type of water that you're showering with since it can impact your hair and skin. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, soft water leaves hair and skin softer as compared to hard water.

For starters, hard water can be detrimental to your hair's health and prevents moisture from getting in your locks because it has more minerals than soft water. "You don’t want to wash your hair every day with water that has minerals because those minerals will interact with the chemical and the color of your hair," adds Limor Weinberg, founder of The Clinic USA.

On the other hand, soft water can taste slightly salty if it has been treated with chemicals or a filtration system. Its benefits, however, outweigh those of hard water, which "may be harder to establish a lather and the skin may feel like it has a film on it," says Garshick.

Benefits of a shower filter

Weinberg recommends using a shower filter to make your softer and neutralize its pH. Most shower heads already come with a filter system that helps eliminate contaminants and other particles like dirt, sand and sediments. Additionally, filters can help reduce your water and energy usage against the national average (2.5 gallons per minute), according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Some shower filters also come with added technology features such as adjustable spray patterns and temperature monitors to maximize your at-home spa experience.

What's the best water temperature to use in the shower?

Most people have strong opinions about their ideal shower temperature, but lukewarm water "is better for the body and scalp because it won't strip oils away from your skin," according to Weinberg.

"Most experts don't recommend washing your face and body with hot water because it can impact your moisture barrier," adds Brody. Some dermatologists recommend water one to two degrees higher than your body temperature, which is usually about 98.6 to 100°F. Plus, according to the Sleep Foundation, showering at a temperature between 104-108.5°F improves sleep quality over time.

How to make the most of your shower routine, according to experts

Weinberg takes priority in her shower routine. She recommends following these steps before, during and after your shower to optimize your skin care routine.

Exfoliate dry skin

Weinberg suggests using a brush or washcloth instead of a loofah for exfoliation. "Loofahs are known to harbor bacteria because of all the little nooks and crannies. If you’re really dead set on using one, you can make sure it’s completely wet and microwave it (only synthetic loofahs) on high for two minutes.

"This will kill bacteria and viruses, but I would still recommend replacing it monthly since there are a ton of dead skin cells and viruses that can be harbored there," she adds. While it's being used, though, she advises cleaning loofahs and sponges on a weekly basis.

Shampoo your hair once or twice a week

Weinberg suggests washing your hair regularly if you exercise and partake in outdoor activities to reduce sweat buildup in your scalp, preferably a couple of times per week. (A good rule of thumb for hair-washing days is to leave two to three days between washes.)

However, according to Zubritsky, washing days "is totally dependent on your hair type, if you have any medical conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or eczema and hair concerns. This can range between washing daily to once a week."

Use a fragrance-free soap

"As a dermatologist, I always use a soap that is gentle on the skin while still being effective in cleansing. Choose a soap that is fragrance-free that doesn’t strip or damage the skin barrier," says Zubritsky.

As for Weinberg, she personally uses liquid soaps as these moisturize the skin better.

Moisturize on damp skin

"When I get out of the shower, I have a whole moisturizing routine," Weinberg mentions.

"I prefer body creams and oils (lipid-based) because they can penetrate into the skin barrier as opposed to (water-based) lotions that just sit on top of the skin and evaporate throughout the day. Water-based lotions that contain other ingredients like hyaluronic acid may be more expensive, but also work better trapping moisture on the skin."

Features to look for in a body wash

When it comes to choosing your soap or body wash, Garshick suggests using a cleanser containing ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help strengthen the skin barrier and boost moisture.

"Those with dry or sensitive skin should look for a body wash with some moisturizing components and ingredients to help restore moisture or strengthen the skin’s natural barrier while cleansing, such as ceramides. Those who are looking to get rid of dead skin cells or those with rough or bumpy skin may find it useful to use an exfoliating wash a few times per week, which can be in the form of a physical exfoliant with gentle microbeads or a chemical exfoliant," she shares.

Products to use in your shower routine, according to expert recommendations

Vanicream Gentle Body Wash

This body is recommended by Garshick for its skin-friendly features. "It is a perfect option that can be used by people of all ages, as it is free of preservatives, parabens, formaldehyde, lanolin, fragrance and dyes, so it is a great option for kids and adults, as well as those with sensitive skin."

Dove Beauty Sensitive Skin Body Wash Pump

A blissful shower routine starts with a gentle soap. This body wash from Dove is formulated with MicroMoisture droplets and has a milky feel that leaves the skin feeling silky soft. If you have dry skin, this moisturizing body wash will soothe your skin while adding a creamy touch to your skin after showering.

Pura D'Or Awakening Body Wash

Have a real awakening in the shower with this botanically-based formula mixing organic oils including lavender, copaiba balsam, geranium, chamomile and tea tree. If you have sensitive skin, this body wash will offer a spa-pampering experience without an overpowering scent.

"I suffer from HS and eczema. Since using this soap, I have not had a violent flair," said one Amazon reviewer.

Love, Lori My Solemate 2-in-1 Foot Pumice Stone Scrubber

Your feet also deserve the same TLC as your body and face. This pumice stone scrubber is designed to gently remove those unwanted calluses while treating your skin with its moisturizing formula of shea butter, aloe and vitamin E. If your pedicure appointment keeps being rescheduled, this scrub will offer effective results in getting rid of dry and hard skin.

Ouai Scalp and Body Scrub

No shower routine is completed without a little scrub. The blend of sugar and coconut oil is created to cleanse the scalp and body while gently exfoliating oil buildup. This formula is designed to balance your skin's moisture level thanks to the sugar crystals and panthenol.

"Skin feels baby soft and silky. Great exfoliator for body and scalp. The oils never leave my hair feeling greasy either!" said one buyer.

Clean Skin Club Towels XL

Instead of using regular washcloths, Weinberg recommends single-use and biodegradable face towels, especially if you're traveling. According to Weinberg, these towels "prevent the spread of bacteria that resides in damp wash clothes after even a single use. Bacteria thrive in warm damp environments and multiply quickly, not to mention dead skin cells."

This pack offers 100 percent clean and bacteria-free towels to clean sweat, dirt and makeup. The product is super versatile and is made from an ultra-soft texture while leaving your skin fresh. They come in travel and extra large sizes to even dry your body. Also, customers rave about how this product helped them in alleviating acne and breakouts.

Everyone 3-in-1 Soap

With more than 8,000 verified five-stars ratings, this multipurpose soap works to leave skin silkier, hair less frizzy and body more relaxed, according to the brand. The calming scent of lavender and the cooling nature of aloe work in unison to deliver a soothing experience. Also, this product will simplify your shower routine thanks to its triple duty as a shampoo, body wash and bubble bath.

Korres Instant Smoothing Serum-In-Shower Oil

For a calming after-shower care, use this body oil on damp skin. This lightweight serum is water-activated and helps hydrate your skin after the shower. You can benefit from using this formula during the winter months when you need a little extra moisture. The scent, the feel and the texture are ideal for dry skin.

"This oil goes on easy and doesn't feel heavy on my skin at all — plus it's great to just put on quickly at the end of my shower. I've been using it for about a week and my skin already looks and feels more moisturized," said one buyer.

AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter

Protect your hair, skin and nails with this shower filter featuring an SF100 water flirtation that reduces contaminants and makes water softer. Aside from filtering the water, the filter also improves pH balance to soothe dry itchy skin, dandruff and eczema, according to the brand. It's also made with 25 percent rejuvenating ingredients to neutralize odors while reducing harmful chemicals.

Voesh Vitamin C Shower Filter

Bring the spa into your shower with this vitamin C shower filter. The product is made with vegan probiotics, vitamin C and oatmeal powder to help soothe dry or itchy skin. Customers rave about how this product makes their hair and skin feel softer after use. If you want to minimize the steps in your self-care routine, this shower filter will make your skin feel moisturized until the morning.

Dr. Scholl's Hard Skin Remover Nano Glass Foot File

Foot care is also an important part of your shower routine. This skin remover will exfoliate and smooth the hard edges and calluses from your skin. The file features a textured nano glass surface that easily removes dead skin and repairs cracked feet. It's easy to clean and rustproof.

"Finally a foot file that doesn't leave your feet looking like shredded cheese! I thoroughly enjoyed using this tool and it gently removed built-up dead skin without tearing into your softer flesh," said one verified reviewer.

Bearback Lotion Applicator for Back and Body

We tend to neglect our backs when it comes to our personal hygiene habits. This tool will provide assistance on hard-to-reach places while giving you the right amount of moisture. With the applicator, you can apply lotion, sunscreen or moisturizer, and even rub your back during the process.

"It reaches the back easily and is just the right angle and size. I have a dry skin condition and reaching my back was causing my shoulder to go out," said one Amazon reviewer.

de la heart The Body Brush

Detox your body with this body brush made from a beechwood handle. Every shower routine should be accompanied by a self-care ritual and body massage session. You can help get your lymphatic drainage going while reducing inflammation, promoting a healthy immune system and leaving your body energized, according to the brand.

hai Smart Showerhead

Enhance your shower time with hai's shower head and let this appliance improve your time and overall shower schedule. The product features a customizable LED light to let you know when the water is warm and you have reached your target water limit. Not only will you save money and water, but it will provide a relaxing spray with better water pressure.

Aside from efficiently managing your showering time and usage, hai also optimize water flow. The device comes with an app where you can manage all the features. The product focused on changing your showering behavior by turning your experience more joyful.

Frequently asked questions

What is an everything shower?

Lately, TikTok influencers have given the bathroom aesthetic a different (and opulent) meaning. The 'everything shower', for example, has turned a daily shower routine into a luxurious home spa ritual. Google Trends even saw a rise in searches for the topic by 150% in April 2023.

"The 'everything shower' involves a lengthy, once-a-week process involving multiple skin and hair beauty steps to undertake both pre, during and post-shower. Elaborate routines like this are not typically performed daily," says Zubritsky.

According to cosmetic surgeon Dr. Sheila Farhang, 'everything showers' typically include full body shaving, full body scrubs, hair masks and copious dry brushing.

"For the everything shower, I would recommend an order of hair washing, then exfoliation and shaving, then washing your body and face," adds Zubritsky.

Is there a proper order to shower?

Farhang recommends following these steps, in order, to maximize your shower routine.

  1. Dry brush legs and arms. Do this to start the process of exfoliation and to stimulate blood flow.

  2. Wash your hair first with something that really cleanses and nourishes the scalp.

  3. Apply a hair conditioning mask. "Keep these on your hair while you complete your body routine." It's recommended to incorporate this step in your routine at least once a week.

  4. Exfoliate the skin on your body. Farhang recommends a scrub such as a coconut body scrub.

  5. Shave areas that are prone to ingrown hairs like your legs and pubic areas

  6. Next, you can wash the body. "If you have back acne, using a benzoyl peroxide body wash such as Panoxyl would be good to use at this time as it requires to be on the skin for a few minutes."

  7. Follow with a wash and face exfoliation.

  8. After, remove the hair mask.

  9. Apply your hair serum if focusing on regrowth or thinning strands.

  10. Apply deodorant and moisturizers. "Avoid entirely drying off your skin prior to applying your moisturizers. Applying moisturizers to damp skin allows these products to effectively seal in moisture," concludes Zubritsky.

Meet the experts

  • Leah Stigile is the co-founder of hai, an innovative company that focuses on reducing environmental impact through smart shower heads. She has also led companies in the e-commerce space for the last 15 years.
  • Leonard Brody is the co-founder of hai and is an award-winning entrepreneur, venture capitalist, bestselling author and a two-time Emmy Award nominee. He also has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars in capital for startup companies.
  • Limor Weinberg is an aesthetic nurse practitioner and the founder of The Clinic USA, a med spa offering cosmetic treatments and courses for injectors.
  • Dr. Marisa Garshick is a board-certified dermatologist that runs a podcast and serves patients throughout Manhattan.
  • Dr. Sheila Farhang is a cosmetic and mohs skin cancer surgeon based in Beverly Hills. She focuses on integrative skin care and cutting-edge procedures.
  • Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky is a board-certified dermatologist practicing on the Gulf Coast. She serves as an editor for the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD).