A shower is often the magical oasis we look to for invigoration, inspiration, and R&R. And while hygienically necessary (no one wants to be known for their pungent scent), it’s mostly an experience focused on self-care. But we may be doing more harm than good while under the water stream. According to a recent Dove survey, three in four dermatologists say that women often damage their skin in the shower, thinking they are caring for it. The signs? Dull, itchy, or dry skin, or even wrinkles.

Below, learn the dirty little secrets of your sudsy session and find out how to clean it up.

Shower headTurn down the heat. A slightly warmer than lukewarm temperature is ideal. “If you’re red after you get out, that’s a sign of dilated capillaries, which isn’t beneficial for skin health,” says Dove dermatologist Mona Gohara. But since the steamy environment is good for clearing pores, turn up the heat before you get in and then down once you enter.

Go easy on the scrubbing. “Scrubbing is for toilets and floors,” stresses Gohara. Instead, exfoliate once a week with a forgiving product like The Body Shop’s Almond Milk & Honey Gently Exfoliating Cream Scrub ($24). And go extra easy on skin if you’re using a puff or loofa as they can tug or tear if used too vigorously.

Detox your shower caddy. Toss products loaded with sulfates or other harsh ingredients, and replace ’em with gentle cleansing versions to protect the skin barrier. “We treat the face like a delicate flower, and since your epidermal layer is the same all over, you should be treating your body just as carefully,” says Gohara. Scan the ingredients label for skin-positive words like “sulfate-free” and “gentle.” One that fits the bill is Dove’s Sensitive Skin Nourishing Body Wash With NutriumMoisture ($5).

Shower at night. “The skin naturally regenerates itself at night, hence the term ‘beauty sleep,’ so I like cleansing to happen as a primer for this,” says Gohara. That said, if a shower in the a.m. is your jam, you do you. Just remember to take the time to treat skin with care, and not rush the process.

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