Showering too often

or for too long

can make skin

dry and irritated.

Mirror Talkers study by Denise Baden, Professor of Sustainable Business from the University of Southampton

in collaboration with Eco Hair and Beauty and Green Salon Collective // funding from UK Research and Innovation // support from L'Oréal, Wella and Toni & Guy // research assistance from Stephanie Hodgson


ECO TIP 3: Showering too often or for too long can make skin dry and irritated.

Showering too often or for too long can make skin dry and irritated and make some skin conditions worse, especially if the showers are too hot.  Your hair and skin do not like too much hot water, hot air or chemicals!

Read on for:

  • Health and beauty tips
  • Money saving tips
  • Eco savings and tips
  • Bonus tips
  • ...and more!


Hot water and chemicals in shampoo and shower gel are very ageing on your skin and can make hair brittle, so less is more. 

The hotter the water, the more powerful the shower and the longer you stay under the water, the more the hot water and chemicals can irritate your skin. 

Tepid or lukewarm water is better for your skin and hair. 

EXPERT TIP: Bar soaps are kinder to the skin.


Cut your shower time by half and see the difference in your bills! Showering in tepid or lukewarm water can also help you have money.

EXPERT TIP: An eco-shower head will substantially save water and energy bills and can help in areas where you have low water pressure. Some reduce the water flow by introducing small bubbles of air – this can really save water and energy and money, and it also feels lovely against the hair and skin. Some feed water through mineral balls that soften and purify the water.


Water is becoming a scarce resource (yes even in the UK!) so showering less saves water.  

Heating water is very energy intensive. For the cost of a 10 minute hot shower, you could probably leave your TV or PC on for most of the day. 

So showering for less time, washing clothes only when you need to, and filling the kettle only as far as you need to are all ways to save money and help the planet. 

DYK heating water produces greenhouse gas emissions. 


1: Showering 4-5 times a week could change to the following: You should shower after being in dirty or sweaty environments and it is recommended to wash smelly areas every day BUT maybe at the sink or in isolation or as part of a short and focussed shower. Then have a full shower when you really need to.

2: If you are using products such as conditioners that require leaving in for a few minutes, turn the shower off.



Not everyone needs to use conditioner. A study run at the University of Southampton by the Ecohair team asked people who usually used conditioner to go without and report on results. Forty percent said it made no difference, 30% said it made their hair better and found it didn’t need washing so often, and 30% said it made their hair worse. So you have a 70% chance that you don’t really need to use it at all. Everyone’s hair is different, so the best thing is to try for yourself and see.


Scientists are increasingly realising that our body and skin is protected by its own healthy bacteria which fights off germs and viruses. Therefore if we wash too long with too many chemicals, not only are we washing off unwanted bacteria – we are washing off our skin’s natural protective bacteria. 

Many people are switching to probiotic cleaning products which have been proven in tests to work for much longer than conventional anti-bacterial cleaning products for just that reason – a recent study showed that probiotic cleaners and soap were more effective at dealing with harmful bacteria than detergent.


Just as overuse of antibiotics can destroy your body's ‘good’ gut bacteria, too many washing products like shampoo and shower gel can impair the effectiveness of your skin’s natural ‘good’ bacteria.  Hair colour and bleach is especially harsh. 

Many cleaning products, not just shampoos and shower gels, but also detergents that include ammonia and/or bleach are toxic and release volatile organic compounds that can be bad for our health. In tests, simple baking powder and white vinegar is almost always at least as effective as the harsh detergents, and much cheaper and less toxic to our health and the environment.



Some people may be put off by the idea of showering less but others have found that their skin and hair get used to the change over time. Yet other people have found that their dry skin or skin problems were greatly diminished just by taking fewer or shorter or colder showers.

If you have or had dry or irritated skin and want to share how you are managing it, please share your experiences in the comments section below!