How Long Should a Shower Last?

Longer than a hot minute, but shorter than a coffee break.

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If you’re reading this, it probably means you’ve gotten through practically all of your (likely) adult life without ever questioning how you shower. I mean, why would you? It’s not like caring about how you’re showering now is going to make you more money, or help you lose weight, and so on and so forth. Basically, you wake up, you get in the shower, you rinse, you lather up, you rinse again, and you’re out — it’s so easy a caveman could do it, if, y’know, cavemen had showers in cavemen times. To call showering basic would be an understatement; pretty much everyone does it the same way.

Of course, if we’re splitting hairs, there are some differences. Take, for example, how much time one spends in the shower. Like, maybe you’re one of those quick showerers: in-and-out in under two minutes. Or, maybe you’re a real soaker, and you like to take your time — like 20 stinkin’ minutes.

Well I’ve got some unsettling news for you: If there was one thing that actually matters for your body about HOW you shower, it’s how LONG you spend in the shower. 

You ever get out of the shower and get that dry, itchy skin feeling, like your skin is on too tight? Yeah, according to dermatologists, that’s because you’re showering too long. Showering for too many minutes with water that’s too hot has a tendency to open your skin’s pores way too wide, letting all of your skin’s moisture leak out like it’s running through a sieve. Not only that, but that hot water can also strip your skin of its natural oils, called sebum, which exist to protect your skin from the elements.

But just because long showers might be bad for your skin, that doesn’t mean you should shower for 30 seconds and get the heck out of there, either. In an interview with Healthline.com, dermatologist Dr. Edidiong Kaminska suggested that short showers have their own, nasty drawback: You don’t actually clean your skin. And that’s bad because if you don’t get clean, you can leave behind some nasty microscopic critters that can cause infection and/or make you smell like the dickens.

So how long should your shower last? Stephen Shumack, president of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, argues that the perfect shower should take two minutes with lukewarm water. That’s brisk enough to not dry out your skin, but long enough that you can get completely clean. 

But don’t feel like you have to bring a stopwatch with you into your bathroom. Instead, play some music on a portable speaker, or if worse comes to worse, your phone — if the first bop you play finishes before you’re done washing, you know you’ve showered for too long.