Your Post-Shower Drying-Off Technique Is More Important Than You Think For Skin Health

Your skin is the largest part of your body, which means it deserves a lot of love. Taking care of it can sometimes be a challenge in our busy lives, but just a few moments of our time can make a huge difference. There are lots of simple ways to nourish and protect our skin, but we're going to focus on the shower today — specifically, what you do as soon as you step out. Showers themselves already strip our skin's natural oils with the hot water and soaps we use, and although they feel good, we need to let our skin recover afterwards.


If you're prone to dry and sensitive skin, the way you're drying yourself off after the shower could be contributing to that. A lot of us might simply step out of the shower, rub our skins completely dry with a towel, and that's it. But rubbing too harshly can cause skin irritation and dryness. Instead, try a softer approach and be kinder to your skin. 

Be gentle and pat dry

It's second nature for us to rub our skin dry with our towels. It only makes sense, right? But rubbing too harshly can be damaging. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends gently patting your skin, as rubbing can further irritate dry skin. This goes for washing your face as well — pat, don't rub. Overtime, towels can become worn down and rougher after lots of uses, so it's important to be gentle with your skin when using them.


Patting dry is the first step, but don't get dressed just yet. Moisturizing after the shower is a must to keep your skin hydrated and glowing. Leave your skin just slightly damp after the shower and apply moisturizer within five minutes, per the AAD. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dina Strachan explains to Healthline, "When skin is already damp, it's hydrated. The moisturizer can then either provide more hydration or just seal it in." This will allow your skin to soak up all the moisture it can get. No more dry, itchy skin for you! 

Wash your towels regularly

Not only should you be gentle when using a towel, but your towels should be clean and dry before they touch your skin. The American Cleaning Institute recommends washing bath towels after three to five uses. Using a dirty towel too many times before washing can irritate your skin and spread infections, per Healthline


The first step to healthy skin is keeping it clean. Just like you change your pillowcases and sheets frequently, you should be routinely washing your towels after you use them. Microbiologist Charles Gerba, Ph.D., spoke to Time about a study he conducted, where he found coliform bacteria on nearly 90% of bathroom towels and 14% of them contained traces of E. coli (fecal bacteria — ew!). It's not so surprising when you realize that our damp towels hang in the germiest part of the house. A fresh towel, or one that you've only used a couple times, on the other hand, will leave you feeling fresh and clean.