Here’s How Long Your Shower Should Really Take, According to a Doctor on Aging

Updated: Aug. 15, 2023

Whether you're worried about water conservation, rushing through your morning, or keeping your skin young, you'll appreciate this anti-aging doctor's advice for how to make your shower thorough, while efficient.

Water conservation and other Earth-friendly values are top-of-mind for the majority of Americans—and meanwhile, some hygiene shortcuts are increasing our risk of health issues.

Dr. Rosmy Barrios, MD is a medical doctor and master aesthetician who specializes in anti-aging practices and regenerative medicine. Here, Dr. Barrios offers her take on how to wash off dirt and potential infection while keeping your skin healthy and being mindful of water use. Dr. Barrios says it comes down to limiting your shower to a specific timeframe.

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Longer doesn’t mean cleaner, Dr. Barrios says—meaning, spending prolonged time under the shower head can actually cause damage to your skin.

“When it comes to the duration of a shower, it is generally recommended that individuals limit their showers to 10 to 15 minutes,” she says. “This is because prolonged exposure to water can strip the skin of its natural oils and lead to dryness and irritation.”

Plus, when you think about how much water you’re using during a shower, keeping it to 10 minutes or less is best practice. According to the Water Footprint Calculator, an average 10-minute shower uses around 25 gallons of water…that’s a lot down the drain. This, of course, is dependent on the shower head’s intensity, but the creators of the quiz say this number is calculated based on a standard low-flow shower.

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Worried about whether you can get yourself thoroughly clean in 10 minutes? Dr. Barrios says that the “duration of the shower is less important than the quality of the cleansing products used and the thoroughness of the cleansing process.”

So if you prefer to take a quick three- or five-minute shower, that can still yield a quality cleanse—as long as you make sure you’re giving your skin and scalp the proper cleaning they need.

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How often should you shower?

With such a short recommended limit for a shower, does this mean that you should be showering every day? Dr. Barrios suggests not exactly.

“In terms of showering frequency, it is generally recommended that individuals shower at least once every two days,” she says. “However, this can vary depending on one’s lifestyle and personal preferences. For example, those who exercise frequently or live in hot, humid climates may need to shower more to maintain good hygiene. On the other hand, individuals with dry skin may want to avoid showering too often, as it can strip the skin of its natural oils.”

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Water temperature impacts your skin

Meanwhile, if you take a five-minute shower that’s so hot your skin turns bright pink, chances are good that’s going to compromise the quality of your shower, too. “The temperature of the shower water can also impact skin health,” says Dr. Barrios, adding that while hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils and cause irritation, “cold water can constrict blood vessels and lead to a dull, lackluster complexion.”

The best solution? A short shower that’s sub-steamy. “It is best to use lukewarm water when showering to maintain the skin’s natural balance,” she says.

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