Can Taking Cold Showers Improve My Skin?

April 13, 2018

CAN TAKING COLD SHOWERS IMPROVE MY SKIN?

The skin, being the largest organ of the body - is also the most exposed to threats. The moment you step outside, your skin is exposed to dust, dirt, and pollution that impact your skin health. Keeping skin fortified against these harms is the reason why taking a shower or bath is essential not only in cleansing but in maintaining healthy, beautiful skin.

To get the greatest benefits out of showering, however, it is important that you get the temperature of the water just right. If you're used to taking long, hot showers, it may be beneficial to switch to cooler showers for a better complexion!

Bathing with hot water strips your skin of its natural oils, which results in a dry and dull complexion. While most people have the impression that washing or bathing using high temperatures is beneficial to the skin, scientific studies supporting this claim are lacking.

There are scientific studies though that reveal the negative effects of washing or showering using hot water. One study on the use of warm or hot water for washing hands suggests that this practice can lead to skin irritations. Another study that focuses on the effects of water temperature in determining the damage to the skin barrier shows similar results.

If you want to know how using cold water for showering or bathing can benefit your skin and what practices you can adopt to get the most out of showering, continue reading below.

Skin Benefits of Cold Showers

Literature shows that since ancient times, people already believed that bathing in different water temperatures produced different effects. For example, ancient bath houses would have both hot and cool soaking tubs.

Existing studies on the impact of showering using cold water have shown how that practice causes physiological changes in the body. The physiological effects of showering using cold water result in the following skin care benefits:

Cold Showers Help Nourish the Skin

The use of cold water in bathing and showering helps to stimulate and improve the flow of blood in the skin. The blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen needed by the body to function normally. This means that when you shower using cold water, your blood flows more effectively, thereby completely nourishing your skin cells.

When your skin is properly nourished and receiving enough oxygen, it will look more radiant and healthy. A well-nourished skin can also support important processes and cell activities needed to have a beautiful complexion. For instance, your skin can readily bounce back when damaged, since improved blood circulation can significantly accelerate cell repair.

At the end of the day, it would be impossible for your skin to be healthy if it isn't receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. Just like your body, you can't avoid diseases and maintain good health if you aren't eating properly and getting enough nutrition.

Cold Showers Prevent Skin Aging

A youthful-looking complexion is only possible with proper blood circulation. Poor skin blood flow results in dry, dull, and aged complexion. Given that cold water improves blood flow, you're essentially helping your skin prevent premature skin aging every time you shower using cold water.

Another physiological change that happens when you shower with cold water is that the low temperature activates your sympathetic nervous system. When this happens, your body releases hormones and brain chemicals that help you fight stress.

Even without knowing the scientific explanation, it is very evident that people who are under prolonged stress look so much older than their actual age. Sufferers of stress have dark circles under their eyes because they lack sleep from constant worrying. They are also more prone to developing wrinkles and fine lines. Review of evidence suggests that psychological stress directly influences skin aging because stress negatively affects many systems in the body.

Ultimately, stress causes chronic immune dysfunction and DNA damage, among others. Since the skin reflects what is going on inside the body, it is impossible to maintain healthy and young-looking skin when you are always stressed. Fortunately, you can beat stress by taking a quick cold shower!

Prevent Stress-Related Skin Conditions

As mentioned above, taking cold showers can help relieve stress and anxiety. A study focusing on the cold shower as a possible treatment for depression revealed positive results that also impacted stress levels. Evidence shows that cold showers stimulate the release of “happy hormones” such as endorphins.

Naturally, when such chemicals are released by the body, your stress levels significantly decline, if not totally disappear. When this happens, you are less prone to experiencing stress-related skin conditions that can affect you psychologically and socially. Such skin issues include acne, psoriasis, and atopic/contact dermatitis, among others.

Relieve Discomforting Symptoms of Certain Skin Conditions

Cleansing or showering using cold water can also provide relief from discomforting symptoms of certain skin conditions like acne and psoriasis, as well as sunburns. When you have a lot of acne breakouts, your skin feels hot and oily, not to mention red and inflamed. Quickly washing your face with cold water can significantly reduce redness and swelling, and even help alleviate the pain caused by acne breakouts!

Cold showers have also been found effective in helping psoriasis patients find relief from pruritus. Pruritus is one of the symptoms of psoriasis characterized by itching. In a study published in 2009, patients attest that cooling the skin by taking cold showers significantly helped in countering the intense itchiness caused by psoriasis.

Showering and Bathing Tips That Benefit the Skin

Without a doubt, showering/ bathing is essential to keep skin clean and healthy. However, it is important to note that you can only experience the skincare benefits of showering/bathing if you do it the right way. To help you get the most out of your shower experience, consider the tips below:

Why You Should Avoid Hot Water 

As discussed earlier, showering with hot water dehydrates your skin since it robs your complexion of its natural oils. If you are susceptible to certain skin conditions, it is definitely wise to avoid hot baths and showers.

Clinical evidence suggests that one of the contributing factors to psoriasis flare-ups is taking hot showers. Hot showers and baths have been found to cause pruritus among people with dry skin. Instead of subjecting your skin to harmful risks, try using cooler water and enjoy the skin care benefits discussed above.

Wash Using Gentle Cleansers

In our modern world, when your skin is exposed to more harmful elements, your goals for washing should go beyond just mere cleansing. Ordinary soaps contain ingredients like sulfates, considered harsh cleansers and that cause several negative effects especially for sensitive skin.

Harsh detergents cause a feeling of skin tightness since they promote faster evaporation of water in the skin surface. They also causes dryness, scaling, skin irritation, and at times, even allergic reactions due to the coloring, fragrance, and preservatives that are added to the products.

Instead of washing using ordinary soaps, use gentle cleansers like liquid body washes and shower gels instead. Look for soaps with vegetable based surfactants and sulfate-free products. Cleansers that contain nourishing oils (e.g. sweet almond oil, macadamia seed oil, and sunflower oil) will not only rid the skin of dirt but will help hydrate and lock moisture in as well.

Use a Few Drops of Essential Oil for an Aromatherapy Experience

Experience the many benefits of aromatherapy while taking a shower or bath by using different essential oils. You can sprinkle a few drops of essential oil around your shower area or use a shower diffuser, so you will not only clean yourself physically but renew your psychological well-being.

To freshen, invigorate, and stimulate you to start the day with energy and positive attitude, consider using the following essential oils for your morning shower:

  • Orange 
  • Lemon 
  • Grapefruit 
  • Peppermint/ Spearmint (also good for congestion)
  • Rosemary 
  • Juniper 

To help you eliminate stress accumulated throughout the day, relax, and promote good quality sleep, try the following essential oils for your evening shower:

  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • Ylang-Ylang
  • Rosewood
  • Rose oil
  • Cedarwood

Note that apart from helping you relax and restoring your energy, your skin will also greatly benefit from getting good quality sleep. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep provides numerous skin care advantages like restoring the elasticity of skin and reducing dark circles under the eyes.

Keep Your (Not Hot) Shower Short

While it may feel relaxing and refreshing, staying in the shower for too long can seriously dry your skin. The longer you shower, the more moisture you lose. So, the next time you take a bath keep try to make it as efficient as possible. Bonus, shorter showers are also more eco-friendly and less strain on the water heater means less energy costs.

Moisturize After Bathing

Another important step in keeping skin supple and healthy is moisturizing soon after your shower. Make it a habit to put on a gentle lotion, body butter or body oil right after your bath or shower to seal in moisture and prevent dry skin.

Given the discussion above, it is clear that your skin can get so much out of a routine shower or bathing by simply making a few strategic adjustments. Consider the information provided here, select a few tweaks to your routine like taking cooler showers, and you'll soon experience positive skin improvements.

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