There's nothing more luxurious than a bubble bath. But a long soak in the tub isn't always doable, especially on busy mornings before work. The good news: By making a few simple tweaks to your routine, you can transform your shower session from same-old to super indulgent. Here, six easy strategies to upgrade your experience and feel more relaxed and refreshed.
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Super-hydrate your hair
Start by conditioning—yep, before cleansing (hear us out). Work a rich conditioner through wet strands from midshaft downward. “This coats hair, preventing shampoo from further drying out ends, which have likely taken a beating this summer from sun and chlorine,” explains Michelle Pasterski, head stylist at Mixed Co. Salon in Chicago. Leave the conditioner on while you shampoo. “You really only need to wash at the roots and along the hairline to remove oil, sweat, and product residue,” she says. Rinse out the shampoo and conditioner simultaneously. You may have heard that icy water lends shine, but a cold rinse actually makes it harder to get product out, notes San Diego stylist and salon owner Jet Rhys. “For a more thorough clean that still boosts shine, she says, “keep water lukewarm.”
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Nix body blemishes
To treat pesky pimples that may pop up on your back, chest, or booty (blame your biweekly spin session!), make your own fast-acting, zit-busting body wash, says Kavita Mariwalla, MD, a dermatologist in West Islip, N.Y. Combine four crushed-up aspirin with a handful of hydrating, non-soap cleanser; try CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash ($11; amazon.com). Mix until it forms a paste, dab onto trouble spots, sing “Happy Birthday,” then rinse. “Aspirin is anti-inflammatory and tones down redness, but it also contains salicylic acid to help dissolve pore-clogging oil,” says Dr. Mariwalla. (She cautions that pregnant women should steer clear of this DIY technique.)
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Get glowy skin
Here’s a fast move that can make all the difference: Try a shower oil. (We like L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil, $25; usa.loccitane.com). “Shower oils absorb quickly and don’t feel heavy,” says Jacqueline Berry, spa director at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz. “And because they’re extra hydrating, you can skip lotion afterward, so they’re ideal for when you’re rushed.” An added boon? Shower oils impart a subtle sheen—even after they’re washed off— that makes skin look fresh and luminous. To increase the radiance factor even more, tweak your technique, too. “Move upward, from wrist to shoulder and ankle to waist, applying the oil in circular motions,” suggests Berry. “This stimulates lymphatic drainage, improving circulation and giving skin a healthy, natural glow.”
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Fix rough elbows
A one-two punch for scaly spots: Apply a dollop of a glycolic-acid based wash, like Glytone Exfoliating Body Wash ($32; dermstore.com). Leave it on for a minute or two, then rub vigorously with a washcloth. “The double whammy of chemical and physical exfoliation is the best way to get rid of all that dry skin,” explains Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale.
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Reveal sleek, sexy legs
Surprise: For ultrasmooth skin, it’s actually better not to reach for a razor each time you shower. “Shaving every day leads to razor bumps,” notes Dr. Gohara. “Hairs get trapped in these bumps and become hard to reach.” Skip at least a day in between and you’ll end up with a closer shave (cue happy dance). To make the task feel less laborious and more luxurious, really massage the shaving cream into your legs, advises Dr. Mariwalla. Not only is it a nice treat for achy muscles, but doing so helps soften the hairs, making them easier to remove. Shave downward, in the opposite direction of hair growth, to “minimize friction, reducing irritation,” adds Dr. Gohara.
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The simplest way to make a regular shower feel more like a spa treatment? Opt for a scrub with essential oils that deliver aromatherapy benefits. As the oils diffuse in the steam, you get a sensory lift, says Berry. If you’re a morning bather, look for energizing oils, like citrus and bergamot; try Indie Lee Coconut Citrus Body Scrub ($38; indielee.com). At night, unwind with lavender or chamomile, perfect for relaxation. Our pick: J.R. Watkins Sugar and Shea Body Scrub ($13; drugstore.com). Stick with sulfate-free sugar scrubs, since they’re gentler and less drying than salt-based ones, notes Berry. Save sloughing until the end of your shower—warmth and moisture loosen dead cells, leaving skin seriously smooth.