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Hot v/s cold: What’s the best temperature to wash your hair? Let’s settle the debate

Published on:26 February 2021, 16:02pm IST
Deciding between hot or cold water for your hair wash is as important as the products you use, and the frequency of hair wash.
Grace Bains
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hair loss after pregnancy
Keep a check on the number of times you wash your hair. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Ever stood under the shower and wondered if you should wash your hair with hot or cold water? Well, we’ve all been there. After all, we only want to ensure our tresses stay healthy and look shiny.

Besides the shampoo and/or conditioner you use and the frequency of hair wash, your choice of hot or cold water plays an active role in maintaining your hair’s strength and volume.

So, is it hot or cold?

When the hair roots encounter warm water, the pores of your hair follicles expand and open up naturally. On the other hand, cold water causes contraction of pores and keeps them tightly locked up. This reduces hair fall by increasing the grip of your hair follicles on your hair shaft.

The thing is that both temperature options have their own pros and cons. So, let’s weigh them and find out which one is better.

hair wash temperature
Use gentle shampoos while washing your hair. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
The impact of using hot water on your hair

Hot water is effective when it comes to dissolving dirt, grime, and product build-up. It opens your scalp pores, enabling shampoo to unclog your hair follicles efficiently. 

Warm water stimulates the flow of blood to the follicles, encouraging hair growth, eliminating surplus oil and creating thick texture that leaves your hair looking less flat and more voluminous.

The thing is that, besides clearing build-up, hot water may also strip off the essential natural oils from your scalp, causing dryness. What’s more, elevated hair cuticles will allow all the moisture to escape from your hair strands, resulting in frizzy hair, dandruff resulting from dryness and hair fall.

The high temperature breaks the keratin and lipid bonds on your hair cuticles, rupturing the cuticle layers and making them stand. 

Here’s what happens when you wash your hair with cold water

Cold water, however, seals the ruptured cuticle layers while restoring the keratin and lipid bonds. This heals the fizziness of your hair shaft, providing a soft and smooth texture.

Washing your hair with cold water helps to retain natural oils and sebum, which keeps the scalp and hair hydrated. Moreover, open scalp pores are more likely to accumulate dirt, toxic pollutants, sweat, oil, and grease in your hair follicles. Washing your scalp with cold water can help close the pores and maintain your scalp’s hygiene.

hair wash temperature
Very high temperature will give you itchy scalp. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The thing is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Overusing hot water causes stress to your tresses, which can lead to frizzy, brittle and dry hair. Cold water, on the other hand, tends to trap moisture in the hair, resulting in excess moisture, making the hair look flat, with no volume.

Hence, both warm and cold water have their specific effects on the hair, and what matters is the order in which you use them. Consider starting with warm water (100°F or 38°C), massaging the scalp with shampoo to get the excess dirt and oil off your hair. You may then rinse out the shampoo with lukewarm water and apply conditioner. Finally, you can wash off the conditioner with cold water and let it seal your pores!

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.