Even if you are a COMPLETE newbie to skincare, you probably use a shower gel or even a get-me-clean-please soap. Showergel is kinda like un-conscious skincare. We just use it right… now here’s a question for ya, is a bathroom ‘dressed’ without shower gel? Shower gel, so un-assuming, not in your face, and YET most of us use it, no questions asked. The ‘accidental’ staple of the bathroom. Do you know what your showergel does? I know, I know, that sounds like a silly question I mean.. IT CLEANS right. Yupyup my lovely it does, but there is a reason why when you’re getting your shower gel use in, you should use the tiniest amount you can absolutely get away with!
When it comes to skincare our face gets the MOST attention. Our faces are spoilt and that is awesome. They are spoilt for choice of products too! Which is also awesome because you can find something that works with your super unique skin. When it comes to our bodies, and washing, we pay WAYYYY less attention.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU USE SHOWER GEL?
Shower gel gets us CLEAN. Oh yea, wash that dirty off. Most shower gel [practically ALL] works because it uses a material/chemical called a surfactant. GHEEEEEZ, a surfactant, that sounds waaayyy technical. A surfactant might have a fancy name, but you can absolutely get this, his special skill is to like water AND oil, all at once! See, normally water only like’s other watery stuff ‘n oil only likes other oily stuff. That is why if you’ve ever made your own balsamic olive oil dressing, you gotta shake hard before using to get that MIX on.
Here is a ‘froggy’ analogy for ya. Froggy-water-shower, there’s kinda a link there! Imagine this shower gel surfactant thing as a TADPOLE, its head likes water (he’s sipping that water like it’s a pinnacolada!) and its tail likes oil. So when you use a shower gel he gets busy drinking ALL water dissolvable dirt on ya skin AND all oil dissolvable grime.
WHY YOU SHOULD USE THE TINIEST AMOUNT OF SHOWER GEL
Stuff that foams has these surfactant things in there. Have you heard the warnings of SUPER foamy face washes? Super foamy stuff, like a lotta shower gels has LOADS of surfactant. The one that is MOST used is called Sodium laureth sulphate (SLS for short), this guy has got a lot of fame recently because he is SOOOOOO good at his job. SLS is that good at the job that he also takes your skins natural oils off and THEN what happens is skin irritation! Owch!
This is why my friends, you should use a really, REALLY small amount of showergel. That squirty bottle, especially those super-size packs, are crazy easy to get all ‘bisto-shakey-hand-granny’ with. Use a little less and your skin will send you a thankyou! Let’s face it, most of us are indoor working these days, so there isn’t really a lotta dirt to get rid of. If you’ve been adventuring in the MUD, then you might need a little more, but seriously you’ll be so surprised at how little you need to actually get the job DONE. Remember SLS is really good at the job AND water gets a lot of muck off too… all on its own.
PRO-TIP: If you wanna opt for a milder shower gel then grab one without SLS in there. Cocomidopropyl betaine is a much friendly ‘washer’ for skin and is slowly but surely trying to retire SLS!
WHEN YOU SHOULD BE SUPER CAREFUL ABOUT USING SHOWER GEL
We know why using a tiny bit ‘o shower gel is super skin friendly. There are also a couple of situations you should be a tad more conscious of ya showering products. Mostly because skin is feeling a bit under the weather and needs a caring, protective hand.
- Sunburnt Skin. Sunburnt skin is red and just owch. Its got that red because its all irritated and inflamed inside and that red colour is skins way of screaming ‘OMG what happened?’. Skin that has spent a tad too long in the sun is already super-irritated. It’s not only super irritated, but it’s also taken some of its natural defences down, that’s things like your natural oily protective layer that keeps nasties out. As it’s already irritated and crying out, this is the IDEAL time to take a break from the shower gel OR use waaaay less, OR use a really soothing shower cream without SLS.
- Super Hot Showers. How divine are they! Thing is they aren’t too healthy for our skin. You can kinda think about it like your skin ‘guard’ being a tad too relaxed by that heat. Heat helps to clean stuff anyway, think of a carpet steam cleaner! Cranking up the heat, then use less shower gel or a milder alternate.
- Have Sensitive Skin Anyhow? Then you my lovely should be super careful about shower gel with SLS. SLS is an irritant ‘n sensitive skin is super reactive to irritants. If you do have sensitive skin then steer clear of SLS.
- Dry Skin Types. If you have dry skin, or even dry ‘patches’, then your skin has less of its natural oily protection. A strong shower gel will only take away more of your oily protection and make your skin waaaay drier. Avoid SLS and maybe even consider a body cleansing bar that is JUST made of butters and oils to help cleanse AND condition skin. Something like these LUSH massage bars will do the trick!
ALTERNATE WAYS TO CLEAN WITHOUT SHOWER GEL
So after reading this all, you’re like, WHAT.WAIT.STOP. This could actually be WHY my legs are always super dry OR my skin feels a bit itchy and irritated after a shower. THEN you might want some alternatives ‘ey. I’m here for you!
- Massage Bars/Shower Bars. They look like a soap, but they have no ‘soap’ ingredients in there. NO surfactants what-so-ever! They are made JUST from oils and butters, which along with the water from the shower, get rid of anything on your skin BUT cannot, will-not, it’s scientifically impossible for them to strip your skin! Lush do these massage bars and these bath melts, you can use both to say ‘see ya later’ to the shower gel.
- Shower Oils. The FIRST ingredient in shower gels, will be super nourishing to skin oils. This is an awesome alternative to shower gel! Try this Rituals Fortune Oil Caring Shower Oil* which first ingredient is Soy oil #SkinLover, OR this Shower oil for Dry and Irritated skin* from Eucerin.
- Shower Creams. Like a moisturiser but added skill of skin cleaning! Here is a great shout from L’Occitane – Ultra rich shower cream* (it’s in the title yo!) which has 5% shea butter in there along with other oils to make it all skin friendly.
(Anything with a * next to it is an affiliate link)
What’s your go to shower product? Have you had a peek at the ingredients? Is SLS on there?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.