Welcome back! This week I’ll be exposing a very popular skincare myth: washing your face in hot water. As a teen who struggled with acne breakouts, washing my face in scalding hot water was ingrained into my mind as a cardinal rule. I’m not sure who told me to do this- my mom, my sister, or maybe I read it in Seventeen Magazine or something. I suppose I can see how it would make sense to adolescent me: if we wash our hands in hot water to kill germs, washing my face in scalding water could somehow kill whatever was lurking under the surface. This is, I’m sorry to say, a myth.
Our pores simply aren’t designed to withstand extreme temperatures. When you cleanse with hot water, you’re stripping the skin of its natural oils and damaging the lipid barrier. If you’re someone who struggles with inflammation due to acne or rosacea, this could actually be making it worse. Putting heat into the skin that is already susceptible to inflammation is really the last thing you want to be doing.
Cleansing with cold water may not sound appealing but it does have its benefits! My face is a puffy mess when I wake up in the morning but cold water helps calm that down. Our cells regenerate while we sleep, making our pores expand, which equals a puffy morning face. Cold water tightens pores by promoting blood circulation, leaving our skin looking better overall. Cold water also gives your face vitality and color by literally waking your skin up and helps prevent your face from getting shiny. Oil produced by the sebaceous glands reaches the skin’s surface via your pores, so if the size of your pores is reduced, that’s less oil coming to the surface. If you still aren’t keen on a dramatic temperature change, try opting for a lukewarm temp and leave the skin a little damp before applying a facial moisturizer- the product will seal in the water and boost your skin’s moisture content.
I hate to say it but the above-mentioned pros and cons apply to the rest of your body as well. I was a hot shower fanatic for most of my life living by the motto, “If it doesn’t burn then the water’s too cold”. It wasn’t until I developed a skin condition that I was converted to the cold shower life. I suffer from keratosis pilaris (basically rosacea) on my arms and have found that I experience horrible flare-ups after I’ve showered in hot water. However, both my redness and texture are noticeably reduced after a cold shower. It’s certainly not an ideal way to wake up but I just remind myself that washing my hair in cold water will help prevent frizz and give my hair a lovely sheen and try to power through.
Sorry to all of my hot shower lovers out there but I encourage you to turn down the temp a little bit- your skin will thank you! See y’all next week!