I was absolutely clueless about hot water and skin until I got my hair cut last year.
It was a nice place, and I relaxed under the strong, gentle fingers washing my hair until a sudden icy spray hit my scalp.
Now maybe it’s because I’m inexperienced in high-end haircare, but I definitely sputtered and apparently looked confused, because the gentle fingers in my hair explained, “It’s to seal your hair shaft. Hot water keeps your pores wide open and all the conditioner rinses right back out; this seals it in. Just like when you wash your face.”
Just like when I…what?
Now, I am not the kindest person to my skin. I definitely washed it with scalding water all through teenagerhood, believing the heat would somehow purify the poor little organ.
Myth: Hot water purges impurities and shrinks pores.
Fact: Hot water dries out skin AND causes blemishes. It removes our skin’s special protective barrier of proteins and fats that lock in moisture. Warm water opens pores; cold water seals them.
The Point You Want to Take Away
The direction of temperature to keep in mind while bathing is “warm to cool.” Breaking it down:
Start out however hot you want, but don’t boil yourself for too long. Gradually nudge the temperature control from red toward blue. Cooler water will relieve your skin and any light-headedness from the heat will dissipate, leaving you grounded and energized.
For washing your face:
Start with warm water to open up your pores. Steam if you want, but not if you have any broken skin. Get scrubby, then shift warm to cool.
For washing your hair:
Same. Start warm, wash out dirtiness, thoroughly rinse with the water fairly warm and after applying conditioner, rinse with cool water to lock in oils and conditioners for gloss and strength.
(You’ll also want to avoid washing too often and wash with the gentlest soaps you can, but more on that later.)
And please note, we’re not talking extreme temperatures here: go cool, not frigid. Have a warm heart and a cool head. 😛