By Jennifer Goldstein
March 22, 2013
Credit: Lynda Churilla

Lynda ChurillaFrom Health magazine
You probably think of your shower as nothing more than a series of items to check off your to-do list. Clean body? Check. Wash hair? Check. Shave legs?

Uh, maybe next time. Perhaps you should reconsider how you spend those 10 minutes under the spray each morning.

“Your shower is the perfect place to do the little extras that make your hair and skin look better, because the steam helps products penetrate so theyre more effective,” says Ranella Hirsch, MD, a dermatologist in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Whether you want to detox your skin and hair, hydrate from head to toe, look younger, or simply relax a bit, we have a step-by-step shower plan for you.

The calming shower
A shower can be way more relaxing than a bath: you dont have to wait 10 minutes to fill a tub, the water stays warm the whole time, and, best of all, ”it feels like a light rain massage—so relaxing,” says Stefanie Wilson, spa director at The Seagate Spa & Hotel in Delray Beach, Florida. Serenity is only a few steps away.

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Lynda Churilla

Calming shower steps

  • Before you shower, relieve tension—and moisturize your hair—by using the pads of your fingers to massage a hair-treatment oil with soothing chamomile into your scalp and strands. Try Carols Daughter Tui Hair Oil ($8.50).
  • Turn on the water and place an Aura Cacia Aromatherapy Relaxing Lavender Shower Tablet ($7 for three) at the bottom of the tub, then step in. As it dissolves and fills your shower with its soothing scent, quiet your mind with some deep breathing, suggests Veronique Paquet, spa director at Springs Eternal Spa at Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa in Bedford, Pennsylvania. “Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold for two, then breathe out through your mouth for four,” she says.
  • Rinse out the hair oil, then shampoo and condition as you normally would.
  • Cleanse with a body wash with cocoa butter, a natural hydrator that allows you to skip your body lotion. (Fewer steps equals less stress!) Plus, the scent brings to mind your last beach vacation. Try Crabtree & Evelyn Naturals Nourishing Cocoa Butter, Nutmeg & Cardamom Body Wash ($16).

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Lynda Churilla

The detoxifying shower
Wash away the residue that naturally accumulates on skin and hair with this shower. “Pollution and dirt can clog pores and coat hair, making everything look drab,” Paquet says. Heres how to get a fresh start.

  • Before you shower, wet a natural-fiber washcloth, such as the Ayate Washcloth ($5). Stroke it all over your dry skin, working from the spots farthest away from your heart (feet, hands) toward the center of your body. “Its a great technique for exfoliating away dead skin cells, and the stroking motion boosts circulation to your skin so it has a nice glow,” says James McIlrath, spa director at Encantado Resort in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • Create a steam room before showering. Turn the dial to hot (perspiration helps clarify skin, Dr. Hirsch says), then turn water temperature to warm and step in. (If your skin is superdry, skip this steamy-bathroom step.)
  • Cleanse with a body wash that contains stimulating rosemary and lavender essential oils, which helps de-clog pores. Try Red Flower French Lavender Purifying Body Wash ($20).
  • Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo, like Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo ($8.99), to eliminate styling-product buildup. Then apply conditioner as you normally would. Finish with a cool-water rinse, which makes the cuticle of your hair lie flat so strands look even shinier.
  • While your skin is still damp, smooth on a body oil that has myrtle and juniper oils, natural astringents with an invigorating effect. Try Amala Detoxifying Body Oil ($28).

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Lynda Churilla

The hydrating shower
When your hair is the texture of a wool sweater—and your skin feels as itchy as if youre wearing one—your regular conditioner and body lotion arent going to cut it. Add back moisture with these steps.

  • Turn up the heat in the bathroom so you can turn down the water temperature; it should be just warm enough to keep you from getting chilled. “Hot water can dry out skin and hair,” Dr. Hirsch says.
  • Wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo, then apply a hydrating hair mask like Wella Professionals Hydro Mask (at right, $29; for salons). Leave on five minutes so ingredients can penetrate.
  • While your strands are sucking up moisture, cleanse with a soap that has rich shea butter or nut oils. We love Clarins Gentle Beauty Soap ($15).
  • Finish your shower by rinsing off the mask, then apply a hydrating product to seal in moisture. Some body creams turn milky on wet skin, so opt for a fast-absorbing oil like Melvita Bio-Excellence Extraordinary Dry Oil (above, $33).

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Lynda Churilla

The age-defying shower
Have a drawerful of antiaging products but no time to use them? Multitask by doing an antiaging routine right in the shower. Look even younger with this plan.

  • Start your shower by getting your hair in great shape. Shampoo, then apply a hair mask with strengthening panthenol and shine enhancers like dimethicone. Try Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Time Renewal Hair Mask ($5). Leave on for five minutes, then rinse.
  • “Exfoliating your body is an instant antiager because it softens skin and makes it look less dull,” Wilson says. Squeeze a shower gel with microbeads onto a loofah, then slough away rough spots by cleansing your body using circular motions. Try Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Buffing Beads Body Wash ($22), which also has antioxidants that help to prevent age spots from forming.
  • Next, soften fine lines by cleansing your face with a gentle micordermabrasion scrub, such as St. Ives Timeless Skin Daily Microdermabrasion ($5).
  • While your skin is still damp, smooth on
    a body lotion that contains alpha hydroxy acid, which speeds skin-cell renewal so your skin looks less dull. Try Dove Pro-Age Cream Oil Beauty Body Lotion ($6); it also packs hydrating olive oil and glycerin to soften skin.