Like most guys, you probably shower and shave in the morning and wash your face at night. Maybe you mix things up from time to time, but that’s more or less your routine.
Not bad. But as far as your skin, nails, and hair are concerned, you could do better, says Adam Friedman, MD, a clinical dermatologist at George Washington University.
Here, Friedman lays out the ideal times of day to perform each part of your grooming regimen.
Drop that razor. Your dad may have taught you to shave before heading to the office. But a dermatologist will tell you first thing in the morning is the time when your skin is driest, and therefore most susceptible to damage from a razor or harsh face soap.
“Your skin regenerates more quickly while you sleep than during the day,” Friedman says. That cell turnover—combined with your heat, AC, or fan air breezing over your face and body all night—dries out your hide. It doesn’t help that you’ve gone seven or eight hours without drinking much water.
Since dry skin can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and breakouts, you’re better off moisturizing your skin in the morning rather than shaving or washing it, Friedman says.
Follow a quick soap-less rinse in the shower with skin lotion and a face moisturizer that packs an SPF of at least 30, Friedman says. The moisturizer will lock in some of the water your skin absorbed in the shower, and the SPF in your lotion will save your skin from the aging and cancer-causing effects of daytime ultraviolet light exposure.
While going without soap probably sounds odd, most derms and germ experts agree our culture has gone a little nuts when it comes to personal cleanliness. “It’s really not good for your skin to be scrubbing it with soap more than once a day,” Friedman says. “Even that’s probably too often for healthy skin.”
So save the scrub for the evening—when you’ve spent all day collecting dirt and grime. You could wash your pits and privates, Friedman says. But otherwise you don’t need a morning lathering.
Brush your teeth, work in your hair product, and you’re ready to rock.
If you’re not the type who enjoys a pre-bedtime shower, you may want to reconsider. You’ve been out and about all day, so it makes good sense to clean up before hitting the sack.
Reach for a mild body soap and something separate formulated specifically for your face, Friedman says. Also, skip the antibacterial bars. Research shows they perform no better in terms of saving you from infections or colds, and may come with some serious health risks.
If you choose to shampoo your hair—something Friedman says you’re welcome to do every day, but you really only need every two or three—make sure you follow that up with conditioner. “Shampoo is meant to remove dirt from hair, but conditioner fills in the breaks and repairs the damage,” he says. He recommends opting for standalone products—not those two-in-one shampoo+conditioners. “I don’t think you can combine those and have them be as effective,” he says.
You’re handling your hair at night as opposed to in the morning because some hair styling products contain alcohol or other ingredients that counteract the hair-repairing benefits of your conditioner, Friedman explains. Ideally, you can leave your hair product-free for the night after you condition it.
Once you’re out of the shower, it’s time to shave, clip your nails, and apply your aftershave balms and moisturizers. “The shower water and heat soften and hydrate your skin and nails, which makes shaving and cutting the nails easier,” he says. “Moisturizer helps lock that water in, which can offset the drying you’ll experience overnight.”
If you’re the type who uses any anti-aging creams, now’s the time to put them on. “Most of these products are light sensitive, so they won’t be as effective if you apply them in the morning.”
Hit the sack, and look forward to doing it all again tomorrow.