Why Hot Showers Are No Good For Skin & Hair

Cold showers have benefits you haven't realized yet.
Publish date:
January 22, 2015
showers, meow meow tweet, cold shower benefits, cold showers, hair benefits, skin benefits

Have you ever bathed in a waterfall?

OK, well have you stood under one for a hot (cold, rather) second for long enough for someone to snap a photo? Because serene and calming as they are, waterfalls are usually frigid as f---!

I ask because, apparently, according to a relative pile of endocrinologists, dermatologists, and assorted other doctors, taking a cool shower may be the BEST way to bathe. And actually, quite a few of the higher-quality sulfate- and silicone-free products actually work BETTER with cooler water, so you can be extra nice to your skin.

I know what you’re thinking--You can take my hot showers when you pry them from my moist, sweaty mitts!--but would you change your mind, and maybe experiment, if I told you the water temperature decrease could impart significant benefits like better skin, hair, a boosted immune and circulatory system, as well as increased sex drive? I know, a hot shower feels really, really good. But would you soak in a hot tub before going to work? Wait, don’t answer that.

A Short, Not Super-Accurate History Of Bathing

Back in the day, before everyone and their mother had indoor plumbing, people bathed much like birds, using dishes in their bedrooms. A warm rag, maybe some soap if it was payday. This was standard, even 100 years ago! Then we got obsessed with hot water and made up all kinds of reasons to use it--for hygiene of course! We added antibacterial soaps, and lotions to replenish the oils we melted off in the shower. Unsurprisingly, skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema exploded.

Better For Your Skin And Hair

When you wash your face, you probably don’t use scaldingly hot water, correct? Then why are you totally OK with hosing your entire body with it? No amount of hydrating body wash can replace the mantle that keeps your skin in a healthy balance. Hot water strips away your skin’s natural defense against dryness and irritants, and can exacerbate skin conditions like acne, eczema, dandruff, and psoriasis.

Like your skin’s mantle, your scalp and hair have a delicate balance that keeps them healthy. Extra-hot showers can make an angry scalp worse, and as we all know, a cool rinse closes the cuticle of your hair, boosting shine and keeping moisture in.

Better For Your Immune System

People often think hot water is more sanitary than a cool shower, but this is silly for a few reasons. To effectively kill most bacteria using heat, you need to use water at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature would scald your skin, and even using 110 degree water can disrupt your skin’s protective mantle, and actually make it MORE susceptible to infection. Some studies have shown that by regularly exposing yourself to cooler temperatures, your immune system produces more white blood cells and increases antioxidant response.

How To Start

If you normally blast yourself with the steamiest water possible, take it down, just a hair--I’m not talking about the Polar Bear Plunge here. Try taking it down until it’s close to your body temperature, but doesn’t chill you.

Swap Out Your Products

In addition to cooling down your shower, try using simple soaps and save your pennies for nice emollients. Many cheaper bath products contain fillers, synthetic fragrances, and other common irritants. Fig + Yarrow makes gentle, oil and glycerin-based soaps in delectable scents. My current favorites are the Rosewood+Vetiver soap; it’s subtle and woodsy, and works up a generous lather. Meow Meow Tweet makes bar soaps, that while pricey, are oil-based and last almost forever.

Instead of lubing up with a cheap lotion, try a body oil or butter to combat dryness. Fig + Yarrow’s new body oils come in two mesmerizing, earthy scents, Meadow and Woods, and are hempseed oil-based. For especially dry spots like elbows and heels, try Meow Meow Tweet Cocoa Skin Cream. Unlike straight cocoa butter, it’s mixed with shea butter and oil for an easy-to-use consistency, and its little screw-top jar is nice and secure. Of course there’s always the cult classic Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter. At $5, you seriously can’t go wrong; it smells like the tropics, absorbs quickly, and has minimal ingredients.

  • Are you a hot shower lover?
  • Have you turned down the temperature and seen results? I totally have!
  • Any top-shelf bath products you’re excited about right now?