More and more people are turning to a surprising trend—taking cold showers.
Now, for those of you who relish a long, hot, relaxing shower, it might not sound very pleasant to turn the knob towards cold instead of hot. You might be shivering just thinking about it, wondering why on earth someone would ever choose to take a cold shower. Usually, cold showers are something we only begrudgingly put up with if the hot water in the house runs low. So why has it become such a popular trend?
It turns out that there might be some good reason to choose cold showers over hot ones. In fact, there seems to be some health benefits to taking cold showers. Among the surprising possible benefits include helping you feel more alert, improving mood, increasing circulation, boosting immunity, reducing muscle soreness, calming irritated skin, aiding in weight-loss efforts, and more.1 2 3
Beyond those health benefits, some people believe that cold showers might also be a beauty secret that can help you have stronger, shinier, healthier hair.
So, are cold showers good for your hair? Let’s find out if they are worth the hype.
Cold showers vs. hot showers – Does it really matter?
So are cold showers really are any better than hot showers for your hair. While the scientific research is quite limited in this area, many experts believe that yes—the temperature of your water can make a difference. Cold water is thought to be the healthier option for your hair.
While hot water during a shower might feel good in the moment, it can actually be damaging and just might be harming your hair health.
For one, the heat from hot water lifts the cuticles on your hair. When the cuticle on your hair is lifted and left open, it can lead to dehydration, drying out your hair so that it becomes more brittle and easily damaged. The lifted cuticles also make your hair appear frizzy and unhealthy. 1 4 5 6 7
Hot water also strips away the natural oils in your hair and on your scalp. Those oils protect your hair and skin, keeping them hydrated and healthy. So when you shower in high heat, you are taking away those beneficial oils, which can lead to things like dry hair, dandruff, and damaged roots.4
One of the main reasons why so many hair experts believe cold showers are good for your hair is simply because showering with cold water protects your hair from the damaging effects of hot water.
The benefits of cold showers for your hair
So, what kind of positive benefits might make a cold shower worth your while?
It is believed that cold showers might be able to help your hair to:
- Appear smoother, shinier, and healthier. Cold water helps to close hair cuticles and seal them down. This helps hair look less frizzy.
- Stay hydrated. Again, with cold water sealing down the cuticle, it allows your hair to lock in all of the moisture it can.
- Become stronger and less prone to breakage. Flattening the cuticles and keeping in moisture can help hair to stay strong and be less exposed to damage.
- Retain its natural oils. Cold water doesn’t dry out the sebum layer (a natural layer of oil lubrication that protects your hair), allowing your hair to do it’s natural thing to stay healthy.1 4 5 6 7
It is important to note that there isn’t any scientific research supporting the use of cold showers over hot ones for hair. But there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that cold showers can lead to positive results for some people. And many dermatologists and beauty experts do strongly believe in cold showers for healthy hair.1 4 5 6 7
Are cold showers good for hair loss?
Some people wonder if cold showers can also help prevent hair loss.
Again, there’s not much scientific evidence to say either way. However, there is some reason to believe that it could be worth a try if you are looking to maintain a full head of healthy hair.
One of the known effects of cold water is that it can help to increase circulation in the body.2 Because low blood flow has been associated with hair loss, increasing circulation to your scalp just might be able to help with hair loss.5
Some people believe that cold showers can help your hair get stronger and healthier with time, and even promote more hair growth.1 6 But without more research on the topic, no firm conclusions can be made.
Give cold showers a try for yourself
Are you curious about this cold shower thing and want to give it a try?
If you want to dive right into the deep end with the extremists, you can try going for a full-on cold shower. Simply turn the knob to cold, jump in, and do your thing.
But for most people, taking cold showers can be a real challenge. It isn’t easy, and it doesn’t feel good! The frigid temperatures just aren’t something we are used to.
So, if you are new to cold showering and want to start by dipping your toe in the (icy) water, consider these tips:
- Gradually decrease the temperature. You don’t have to go straight to the coldest setting. Start where you are more comfortable, and then slowly turn down the temperature so you can adapt and get used to it.
- Start with short bursts. Some people believe that you only need a few seconds of cold showering to take advantage of the benefits for your hair and your health. Start with standing under the cold water for just 10 seconds at a time.4 And then if you can, slowly work your way up and increase the amount of time you can stand being in the cold.
- Focus on the rinse. Many hair experts believe that the most important time to be using cold water is when you are rinsing your hair.6 7 This is thought to help lock in the nutrients and moisture after finishing up your shampoo and conditioning routine, ending the process with those cuticles getting nice and sealed down.
- Alternate back and forth. Another strategy is to alternate between hot and cold water throughout your shower. Simply turn down the temperature to as cold as you can handle for as long as you can handle (ideally about a minute), and then warm it back up again for a minute. Continue to repeat and go back and forth between hot and cold throughout your shower.
- Go for lukewarm instead of piping hot. If you can’t talk yourself into trying cold water at all, then at least try avoiding hot water during your shower. Turn down the temperature to something that is still comfortable to you but that won’t expose your body to scalding water that could contribute to hair damage.
- Try to relax and breathe! It’s likely not surprising to hear that it won’t feel pleasant to stand under a cold shower. You might be tempted to jump out right away. Practice breathing deeply, relaxing your muscles, and trying to stay as calm as possible as the shock of the icy water runs over you.
Note: If you have any underlying health conditions, speak with your doctor first before trying cold showers. The cold temperature can be a bit of a shock to the body. If you have a heart condition, for example, the body’s reaction to cold water could be taxing to the heart and potentially problematic.3
About Chelsea Clark
Chelsea Clark is a writer and certified health and wellness coach who is passionate about supporting others along their own health journeys. She enjoys helping people make positive, lasting changes so that they can live the happiest, healthiest life possible.
1. Lindberg, Sara. “Cold Showers vs. Hot Showers: Which One Is Better?” Healthline Media. Healthline.com.
2. Mooventhan, A, & L Nivethitha. (2014). “Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body.” North American Journal of Medical Sciences 6, no, 5 (2014): 199–209.
3. “Are Cold Showers Good for You?” Cleveland Clinic. Health.clevelandclinic.org
4. Migala Jessica. “Can a Cold Shower Really Benefit Your Hair, Skin, & Metabolism?” Health. Health.com
5. Hashempour, Parisa. “I Took Cold Showers For Two Weeks For My Hair – & The Results Surprised Me.” Vice Media Group. Refinery29.com
6. Norris, Rebecca. “The Benefits of Cold vs. Hot Showers, According to a Cosmetic Dermatologist.” Well + Good LLC. Wellandgood.com
7. Schneider, Jamie. “7 Benefits Of Cold Showers For Skin & Hair + How Long It Takes To See Results.” Mindbodygreen. Mindbodygreen.com