Don’t turn that shower knob to “H” just yet. We all love a relaxing, soothing hot bath or shower after a long, stressful day, but hot water hasn’t been getting a whole lot of love from beauty and health experts lately. Word on the street is that cold or cool water is actually better for your skin and hair, but just how much truth is there to this rumor? And what does it mean when temperatures drop? A frigid shower?!
Good news: you don’t have to swear off warm water forever. The key to cleansing and protecting your skin and hair involves both warm and cool water.
“Oils and greases actually dissolve better in warmer water,” says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse. “Showers should ideally be kept at or below 110 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent skin damage and optimize cleansing. Showers should also be limited to 10 minutes to prevent washing off the skin’s natural protective oils.”
Even though hot water may feel better on achy muscles or itchy skin, Shainhouse warns that it can cause vasodilation of the superficial vessels in the skin, leaving skin looking red (and usually itchier). In spite of the myth we’ve been sold all of this time, cold water does not “close” pores any more than hot water opens them, but ending your warm shower with a cold splash of water on the skin can still do wonders for your complexion.
“Cool water will help constrict the superficial skin vessels, leaving skin less red and puffy,” Shainhouse says. “Dunking your face in a sink of cold water will help reduce redness and swelling.”
As for haircare: celebs and beauty mavens may swear that icy-cold water can create shinier locks, but hairstylist Carla Rivas, who co-founded Hair La Vie, says it takes a combination of warm and cool water to truly cleanse and seal your scalp and hair.
“Start by washing with just warm water, don’t use shampoo immediately,” Rivas says. “Just move your hands through your hair as if you were washing with shampoo. This is going to remove any light dirt/debris while increasing blood circulation and opening your pores and follicles to help absorption of the products. Next, use a natural shampoo with gentle cleansers and a conditioner with natural oils for moisture.” The final step is to rinse all product out of your hair and then prepare to get your cold water fix, Rivas says. Rinsing with cold water will help seal the cuticles and pores, leaving you with the lustrous hair of your shampoo commercial fantasies.
“Do this every two to three days for healthier hair,” Rivas says. “Washing every day will dry your hair and scalp out, especially if you’re using a shampoo with harsh chemical cleansers.”
For more beauty tips, check out are ponytails really bad for your hair? and 8 sleep mistakes that are ruining your skin and hair.
Follow me at @lisacfogarty on Twitter.