Take it from the top. Starting with your hair will give the conditioner time to sink in while you work on the rest of your body. Use the pads of your fingers to massage in shampoo, working the lather through to the ends. (Fingernails might feel more stimulating, but they can scratch your scalp and strands.) "If you have color-treated hair, suds up with something that says 'sulfate-free' on the label, which will help prevent fading," Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch says.
This step isn't just about moisturizing your ends. "Conditioner is actually meant to hydrate the skin on your scalp, too," Hirsch says. Work it in all over, then use a wide-tooth comb to gently pull the product through to the ends. (Don't rinse just yet -- we'll get to that later.) To avoid weighing hair down, pick a product specifically formulated for your hair type.
This is a crucial step in winter, but skip the loofah. (A damp bathroom is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.) Instead, use a sugar-based body scrub once a week, or, if you're acne-prone, suds up with a body wash that contains a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid, NYC dermatologist Joshua Zeichner says.
Crazy but true: Dry hairs have the same tensile strength as copper wire. Giving stubble time to absorb some water will leave it substantially softer and easier to shave. To help prevent ingrowns, apply a hydrating shaving cream or foam, then glide your razor in the direction your hair grows, Zeichner says.
Here's where you rinse out that conditioner. "It's important to cleanse your face and body right afterward, since some of the ingredients in moisturizing hair products can cling to skin and clog pores," says Leslie Bauman, a dermatologist in Miami. "Use the pads of your fingers to apply a nondrying, soap-free cleanser to your face in gentle, circular motions, then splash with water."
Notice we didn't say "soap up"? That's because many soaps can be drying or irritating. If you're committed to a bar, Zeichner recommends choosing a soap-free version that's formulated with moisturizing ingredients.