Life poses some pretty existential questions sometimes, like, “What’s for dinner?” and “What do I need to do to get a better night’s sleep?”. Okay, maybe these questions aren’t all that serious, but they do have the power to change the entire course of your day—and how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Another equally deep question you’ve probably pondered is whether it’s better to shower in the morning or at nighttime. Or, maybe you haven’t—but don’t you want to know now?
Here, skin and health experts settle the debate by breaking down the different reasons why you may want to shower in the morning, at night, or even go for a double feature.
- About Our Experts: Danielle Gronich, L.C.E., is a clinical esthetician, acne specialist, and owner of San Diego Acne Clinic. Anna H. Chacon, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist and author at My Psoriasis Team. Jabe Brown, BHSc, MSc, is an Australia-based functional medicine practitioner and the founder of Melbourne Functional Medicine.
The Case For Showering in the Morning
If you wake up feeling fresh but not smelling so fresh, you may want to consider showering in the morning. “Everybody produces a different amount of sweat, oil, and bacteria,” explains clinical esthetician and acne specialist Danielle Gronich, L.C.E., owner of San Diego Acne Clinic. “The area and climate in which [someone] lives also is a huge driving factor.” Some people simply get greasy more quickly than others—even overnight.
Sound like you? People with oilier skin should definitely at least splash off with cool water in the morning, suggests Gronich. This is an especially good idea if you’re also acne-prone, as excessive sebum (a.k.a. oil) contributes to congestion inside pores that then contributes to acne.
Plus, if you are someone who struggles to wake up in the morning and your usual a.m. routine includes hitting “snooze” multiple times, then showering first-thing may be a refreshing and revitalizing way to wake up. “Morning showers can be a great way to start the day, offering a refreshing wake-up call that stimulates the senses and helps increase alertness,” says Anna H. Chacon, M.D. a board-certified dermatologist and author at My Psoriasis Team. Rise and shine, everyone!
Read More: 5 Possible Reasons Why Your Skin Is So Dry
Side note: If you’re thinking about taking one of those super-trendy cold showers, do it in the morning. “Cold showers stimulate an adrenaline response, giving you a sense of alertness and energy—an ideal scenario for kick-starting your day,” explains Australia-based functional medicine practitioner Jabe Brown, BHSc, MSc, founder of Melbourne Functional Medicine. “Taking a cold shower at night can be more stimulating than calming.”
That said, one downside of showering in the morning is that you may then go to bed on the dirtier side. Even if you don’t break into a significant sweat throughout your day, debris, dirt, oil, and residue from products accumulate on your skin, which makes cleansing in the evening a good idea, Gronich says. Basically, if you stick to a morning shower only, you may take a lot more to bed with you than you realize.
The Case For Showering at Night
Of course, hopping in the shower before bed can have its perks, too. There’s that whole thing about cleansing various pollutants (think dust or smoke, which contribute to free radical damage and skin aging), sweat, and other particles your skin comes into contact with throughout the day—but that’s far from the only reason to rinse off in the evening, Brown says.
While a morning shower may perk you up at the start of the day, a warm evening rinse can help you unwind and prepare your body for sleep, says Chacon. Many people find an evening shower to be a soothing way to wash the stress of the day away. Research backs this up, too. In a 2019 clinical review published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, researchers found that taking a warm bath or shower one hour before bed actually promotes sleep by cooling the body’s core temperature.
One downside here: If you shower before bed and have long hair, it might remain damp overnight, which could potentially lead to scalp issues. “When hair remains damp or wet for too long, conditions become friendlier for microbial growth leading to issues like dandruff,” explains Brown. “Scalp itchiness, inflammation, and dryness may also arise. Make a point of thoroughly drying your hair before bed to mitigate these risks.”
When Should You Shower, Then?
Clearly, both morning and evening showers come with a few pros and cons for your health, which might leave you thinking you should just hop under the water twice a day. That’s not an incredibly environmentally-conscious, wallet-friendly, or efficient move, though. Plus, it could also do more harm than good. According to Chacon, excessive showering could strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness or irritation.
As with most things in life (especially wellness!), the best time to shower for your health depends on the individual.
First, consider when you work out, since you’ll want to schedule your shower pretty soon after you exercise. Reason being? “Sweat is your body’s natural cooling mechanism, but leaving it on your skin can foster bacteria growth and lead to irritation,” shares Brown. “A shower post-workout helps to keep your skin healthy and happy.”
Otherwise, weigh whether you need the refreshing jolt of a shower in the morning to wake up more or less than you need the soothing effects of a warm rinse to wind down before bed. “A morning shower might be ideal for those who need a boost of energy to start their day,” Chacon says. On the other hand, “a quick rinse in the evening might benefit people who have had a physically demanding day or who have been exposed to pollutants.”
The Bottom Line
If you really want someone to tell you what to do here, consider this: Gronich says she personally showers in the evening because it means rinsing off 16-hours-worth of sweat and other particles versus just eight-hours-worth of some overnight sweat.
Ultimately, though, when you decide to shower—whether it’s in the morning or evening (or both)—depends on your lifestyle. “At the end of the day, people just need to do what works best for them and their individual needs,” says Gronich.
As long as you’re showering at some point, you’re fine.