Are you a lover of hot stuff or do you prefer to play it cool?
With apologies in advance if you were hoping for a racier blog post than one that looks into the best water temperatures for your haircare routine… but this week we’ve decided to take a look at the pros and cons of hot and cold water for washing and rinsing your hair.
There are undisputed advantages of using hot, cold or warm water and sometimes the advice can feel confusing, so here are some words from the Hairfix team to help get things straight.
First off, water temperature is important and learning to use water of different temperatures will really benefit your hair – its appearance, feel and manageability.
Is hot water too much for hair to handle?
There seems to be a lot of chat about cold water but not so much about hot, so what is it you need to know?
- When it comes to cleansing, it is warmth that opens up the hair cuticles and optimises them for the removal of dirt, oils and chemical and environmental build up.
- Again, hair with open cuticles more effectively absorbs conditioning products, so warmth comes in handy here, too – but only before you condition, not for your final rinse (see below)
But, use with caution! Why warm is better than hot, hot, hot?
- Hot water can make hair easier to break. If you comb or brush it just after using hot water, be very gentle as it’s super-easy to break hairs.
- Hot water can weaken the hair roots. If you use very hot water it can damage your hair roots. Weakened roots lead to less productive hair growth and changes in thickness, texture and even hair colour.
Should you be bold and go cold?
We know, we know… winter’s coming and who wants to spend even a fraction of a second under a cold shower? Not us, unless we know there are decent upsides. Good news! There are when it comes to that important final rinse - and here you have them:
- Shinier, less frizzy hair for longer. If you can be brace yourself to give your hair its final rinse with cool-to-cold water, your hair’s cuticles will close, leaving each strand smoother and shinier. Closed cuticles also help protect your hair from damage.
- Improved scalp cleanliness and health. A healthy scalp is fundamental to healthy hair growth and cold water closes your scalp pores, protecting them from dirt, grease and pollution. Importantly, sealed pores hold the roots more firmly in place and therefore reduce hair shedding.
- Improved blood circulation to your scalp. When we’re cold our blood moves faster and our capillaries widen to warm us up. That’s how your scalp and hair follicles (roots) get all the valuable nutrients they need to stay healthy. Good blood circulation helps slow and minimise hair loss, so that’s a big tick for playing it cool, too.
Just one little note here: cold water can reduce your hair’s volume, so if you find this happening with your hair, we recommend sticking to warm water.
If you want to boost your hair and scalp health this way, what's the best way to get that colder rinse?Well, we’ve experimented with cold water on both warm and chilly days (we’re not the bravest, trust us) and have found that it is reasonably easy to tolerate pretty cool-to-cold water for a short, thorough rinse. It’s worth it, too, and it doesn’t have to be ice cold water – just choose a cooler temperature that works for you.
It’s easiest if you have a shower that can be handheld as you can turn the temperature down and direct the cold water at your hair. If you don’t have a handheld shower you might need to be a bit more creative and bendy to get just your head under the water stream but it’s possible. If you’re shower-less, a hair dip into a sink of cold water will suffice. If none of these work for you, you are forgiven and off the hook but do make sure you use warm rather than hot water.
In a nutshell: wash warm, rinse cool for smoother, shinier, healthier hair and scalp.
- Borbala Kiss