What to Do Instead of the Viral TikTok 'Everything Shower'
"Everything showers" are big on TikTok these days. When I first heard of these, my thought was: "Right, like when I wash my hair and shave my legs." That's the idea, but you don't stop there.
Like gym routines or smoothie recipes, every TikToker has their own personal everything shower routine. Some start with dry-brushing their skin or applying a hair treatment that will be washed out. Then there's a cascade of products shown to the camera and squeezed and lathered: shampoos, conditioners, exfoliants, shave gels, body washes, and assorted skincare concoctions. Finally, the showerer moisturizes, and usually applies a few more hair and skin products for good measure.
Many videos specify that an everything shower is also lengthy and hot. It's self care, after all, and doesn't a long, hot shower feel good?
What's good about the everything shower
First: If you enjoy a thing, it clearly has some benefit for you. Taking some extra time for a monthly or weekly ritual can be be a nice way to relax, whatever exactly that ritual ends up being. Hobbies are also good for us. Collecting skincare products is a hobby. Setting up a tripod to film your hands squeezing body wash into a pouf so you can post the video on TikTok is also a hobby. I'm happy for you if you enjoy your hobby.
The everything shower also gives us time to do personal hygiene kinds of things that we might not get a chance to do every day. Everything showers are often done monthly, although some TikTokers say they do them weekly. Sometimes you just want to quickly wash off so you can get to work; the deep conditioning and everything else can wait until you have more time. Want to schedule an everything shower to get those more time-consuming tasks done? Sure, why not?
What's wrong with the everything shower
Like many TikTok trends, the everything shower is about the fantasy of self improvement and/or luxury--but that doesn't mean that maximalist routines are actually good for your skin, hair, and mental health.
(Not to mention, many of us don't have a water heater that can handle an hours-long, hot shower--yet another way the trend is more aspirational than realistic.)
Hot showers can irritate your skin
Here's a skincare fact: Long, hot showers are actually not good for your skin. Hot water can irritate skin, and the American Academy of Dermatology specifically recommends using warm, not hot, water and keeping showers to 10 minutes or less if you are prone to dry skin. (It's good that you're moisturizing afterward, though.)
If your skin isn't dry and you don't have problems like eczema, rosacea, or keratosis pilaris (those bumps some of us get on the backs of our arms), you may not need to worry about this guideline. But if you're trying to improve the health of your skin--the whole reason for all those skincare products, right?--you can probably benefit from making your shower cooler and shorter. It may be better to spread out your self-care tasks over a week of 15-minute showers than try to get them all done in one marathon session.
Hot showers can also be bad for your hair
Hot water has downsides for haircare as well. Hot showers can irritate your scalp and dry out your hair. Heat can also swell the cuticle layer, potentially affecting the texture of your hair (a swollen cuticle can make it appear more frizzy or less shiny).
Overloading on products isn't helping you
When it comes to cleansers, moisturizers, exfoliants, "actives," and other skincare products, dermatologists are constantly screaming into the void that less is more. (Or to use their diplomatic language: "Using too many products, especially multiple anti-aging products, can irritate your skin. Instead, focus on the basics, such as a gentle cleanser, sunscreen, and moisturizer.")
The AAD also recommends using just enough product to get the job done, rather than working up a luxurious lather. Fragrance-free cleansers are preferred, since fragrances are among the ingredients that tend to cause skin irritation for some people.
Instead of using every product you can think of just to make your shower longer and fancier, try paring down your routine to find the basics that work best for you.
How to take healthier showers
If you already take long, hot, complicated showers, and you're happy with how your skin and hair are turning out--keep on keepin' on. I'm not here to rob you of your joys in life.
But for most of us, the "everything" shower trend is more useful as entertainment content or shopping inspiration than as actual self-care. Use the videos to consider new products to try or to choose a routine element here and there.
The best shower for most of us is one that is short--under 10 minutes if you can swing it--and uses warm or lukewarm water rather than hot. (On a cold day, I'll sometimes start with a minute or two of hot water because it feels so good, and then turn the temperature down for the rest of the shower.)
Only use as many products as you need to get the job done; less is more, as the dermatologists always say. A gentle cleanser and an after-shower moisturizer are good starting picks.
Consider a bath
A big part of the everything shower trend seems to be the "me" time. People leave you alone, and you get to enjoy some smells and textures that you don't normally have time to appreciate--stopping to sniff the rose-scented body wash, you might say.
So if you're looking for relaxation in a small waterproof room with a locking door, might I suggest taking a bath? Our own Claire Lower has an extensive guide here to setting up a bath that meets your needs. Maybe you'll apply a sheet mask; maybe you'll put on a good playlist (that won't be drowned out by the roar of the showerhead).
Long and hot baths still have the skin-drying downsides of long and hot showers, but they tend to cool to lukewarm over time and at least your hair is out of the water. You can exfoliate better with a soak than with a shower, if that's one of your goals. You can also enjoy the bath while doing things other than bathing yourself, like reading a book or sipping a cocktail.