Should You Shower at Night or in the Morning? Here’s What the Experts Say

should you shower at night or in the morning
Should You Shower at Night or in the Morning?Design by Yoora Kim

To shower at night or in the morning, that is the question. If you’re a morning person, you typically prefer to scrub down in the AM before you start your day. And if you’re a night owl, you strongly believe nighttime showering is where it’s at. But is it better to wash your face and body at one time over the other? Are there really any scientific benefits to showering at night versus in the morning?

As it turns out, there is no conclusive answer to this question. “It largely depends on your lifestyle and preferences,” Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City, explains. There are advantages to showering at night, and there are pros to lathering up in the morning, too. However, if you’re out and about most of the day, or simply like to be as clean as possible before slipping into your sheets, then you might opt to shower at night.

“For hygiene purposes, I believe in showering at night to remove dirt, oil, germs, and grime that have accumulated on the skin and hair throughout the day,” Dr. Rebecca Marcus, board-certified dermatologist and brand founder of MaeiMD, says.

But again, there are benefits to both times of day, which Dr. Engelman and Dr. Marcus break down below. Keep reading for everything you need to know about showering in the night versus the morning, including the skin benefits, the best skincare products to use post-rinse, and why you definitely don’t want to head to bed with wet hair.

What are the skin benefits of showering in the morning versus showering at night?

One of the most appealing reasons to shampoo and rinse in the morning? It can wake you up and help you feel alert and ready for the day. But a morning shower also serves to remove any oil or bacteria that’s built up overnight. “Bed sheets accumulate sweat, oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells, which we then lay in for hours at night, especially if the sheets aren’t being cleaned regularly,” Dr. Engelman says. “Showering in the morning washes all this off and allows for a clean (and fresh smelling!) start to the day.”

Alternatively, showering at night rinses away all of that grime before you even climb into bed, as Dr. Marcus explained above. “This can help to prevent acne breakouts on your face and body, especially if your skin is acne-prone,” Dr. Engelman adds.

Showers in the PM also aid in calming your body and mind and can be an integral step in winding down after the day. “Night may prove to be a relaxing ritual to calm down at the end of a busy day and get into a relaxed mindset before sleep,” Dr. Marcus says. “Going to bed with clean skin and hair keeps your bed and bed linens cleaner, which not only feels good but also makes sense for hygiene since bed linens typically aren’t washed more than once or twice a week.”

What are the best skincare products to use after showering at night?

A cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen are typical musts in a morning skincare facial routine, and you might also implement additional products like an eye cream or face oil. But if you lather up at night, you might wonder what skincare products are most important to use before going to bed. The number-one answer? Moisturizer.

“Moisturizing skin with a rich body cream within about two or three minutes after getting out of the shower helps to lock in moisture and keep skin soft and hydrated,” Dr. Marcus says.

“When your skin is still damp, apply a body oil or body lotion to provide your skin with extra hydration,” Dr. Engelman adds. She recommends Bio-Oil Skincare Oil (which you can use on your face) and Bliss Cloud 9 Body Lotion. Below, we’ve included additional safe and dermatologist-recommended moisturizing products.

Dr. Marcus also suggests retinol in your facial skincare routine post-shower, “which is best used for collagen stimulation,” she says. Collagen helps keep your skin hydrated and elastic, which can reduce the appearance of large pores, uneven skin tone, and fine lines. It’s best to start slowly when introducing retinol into your skincare routine, to allow your skin to adjust to the treatment. It’s a potent ingredient, so start by applying it one or two nights a week. However, you should always check with your dermatologist or doctor before trying out a new product.

Is it bad to shower twice a day?

It depends on your skin and hair type, but Dr. Engelman and Dr. Marcus recommend only washing your hair once a day. “Showering too often can dry out the skin and hair, especially if using hot (not lukewarm) water,” Dr. Engelman says. You should also stick to just one shower a day if you have dry skin or eczema, Dr. Marcus notes.

However, it’s okay to hop in the shower twice a day if you exercised and want to rinse the sweat off, or if you need to wash away any dirt or grime. Just be sure to check the time and temperature. “Limit the amount of time you spend in the shower and make sure the water is warm, but not hot,” Dr. Marcus says. And don’t skip the moisturizer — face or body — post-rinse. “Moisturizing right after getting out of the shower can help counteract any overly drying effects that more frequent showering may have.”

Is it bad to sleep with wet hair?

There absolutely is a definitive answer to this question. Yes, it is bad to sleep with wet hair, and both Dr. Engelman and Dr. Marcus advise against it. If you can, make sure your hair is dry before your head hits the pillow.

“Wet hair is more fragile and prone to damage than dry hair, and so tension on the hair shaft that results from lying down on wet hair may put hair at increased risk for breakage,” Dr. Marcus explains.

“The structure of hair actually changes when wet: the hydrogen bonds in the cortex of the hair strand can break when exposed to water, making hair more elastic and susceptible to breakage,” Dr. Engelman continues. Although she recommends that people with all hair types avoid sleeping with wet hair, those with thin, weak, or fragile hair definitely want to steer clear of it to prevent further damage. Plus, “sleeping with a wet head can also promote bacterial growth and irritation of the scalp,” she adds.

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