Break The Hot Bath Habit

By Minji

  • If you want healthy skin, break the hot bath habit
  • Hot baths strip skin of essential natural oils and moisture and cause dryness, inflammation and wrinkles
  • If you must, indulge sparingly and consider the K-beauty half-body bath instead

A few years back, when I moved into my house, one of the things I was careful to get right was my bath tub. I made sure it was big enough, deep enough, the right relaxing color and texture, with massaging jets meticulously placed…all while imagining myself soaking in pure bliss and relaxation. These days though, it’s been a while since my bath tub has gone to work.  

In almost every “ways to indulge in self-care” or celebrity nightly wind-down article, I see “take a long hot bath” as one of the things encouraged to do. I hate to burst the bubble, but if your want healthy good skin, skip this advice. Especially, if you’ve made the hot bath a habit or an essential element of your nighttime ritual, I invite you to break it today for the long-time health of your skin.   

Sitting in a hot bath for a long time can strip your skin of essential natural oils. This can cause the skin’s surface to break down, leading to irritation and inflammation which ages your skin. In addition, hot baths can strip skin of its moisture, potentially leaving you with dry or itchy skin. That’s why even for babies who really can’t take quick showers, dermatologist recommend that they don’t stay too long in a bath. The general recommendation is to limit a bath to 5 or 10 minutes and to make sure that the water is luke-warm rather than hot.

Dr. Yoon says, “hot baths and saunas can help with fatigue, blood circulation, and muscle aches after heavy workouts, but as your skin temperature increases, your skin ages. In other words, as the temperature of the skin increases, more enzymes decompose collagen fibers and elastic fibers, which maintain the elasticity of the skin, thereby increasing inflammation and causing skin wrinkles.  One example of this is that you can generally see more wrinkles in people who’ve worked a lifetime near furnaces or stoves.”  Prolonged heat can be bad for your skin - this includes long hot baths, saunas and hot yoga too.  

If I still haven’t convinced you to break the hot bath habit and opt for short cold showers (joking…well at least a little bit), instead of a bath where you’re fully immersed in water, try the Korean half-body bath instead. Yes, it’s not just the art of face washing, there’s a separate K-beauty way to bathe too. For the K-beauty half-body bath, soak only the lower half of your body. The water should be right under your belly button area and the rest of your body should be dry.

Immersing your lower body in a hot bath, without letting your upper body get wet, helps boost circulation even more than a regular bath due to the temperature difference in the top and bottom halves of your body.  Also, since only half your body is soaked, it should be less drying and harmful to your skin as well. 

After any kind of bath (or shower even), moisturizer should be applied very quickly, while the skin is still damp. Instead of rubbing and drying your skin with a towel, just gently pat the skin a few times and immediately apply a moisturizer.  Cream, ointment or oil forms are ideal. They contain more oil than a lotion type moisturizer and are more effective in sealing in the moisture.

I encourage you one last time…skip the daily nighttime bath!  Maskitation is a much better wind-down ritual and can only help your skin and soul. In the rare instance you must indulge, opt for a K-beauty half-body bath and make sure to not overdo it, once a week at most!