While the temperature of your shower may not be your first thought when it comes to hair care, there are benefits to washing your hair in both warm and cold water. Really, which is better comes down to a few simple factors:
- What type of hair you have: curly hair has different management requirements than straight hair. The same is true for thick versus thin hair.
- What big problems you have with your hair: your hair says a lot about, not only your health, but also your habits. It’s important that you listen to what it’s trying to tell you. Your hair will have different needs depending on what issues you have; frizz, unruliness, or breakage all require slightly different care.
- What products you’re using: for the sake of simplicity, we will ignore products out of the shower. If you are using a two-in-one product, your needs will be different from those who use shampoo and conditioner separately.
In order to decide if washing your hair in cold water is better for your specific hair care needs, we first have to run over the pros and cons of washing your hair in warm water.
Pros of washing hair in warm water
- It opens up the cuticles of your hair: this allows your hair to be thoroughly cleaned, but it does leave your hair vulnerable to breakage and over-stripping of your hair’s natural oils, which can lead to frizz as well.
- It removes excess oil from your hair and scalp: which is great if your hair is prone to excess oil or grease, if you have thick hair, or you tend to shower every few days. However, if you shower daily, have dry hair, or your hair is on the thin side this could lead to excessive dry out.
- It allows for extra texture within your hair: washing your hair in warm water allows for extra texture within individual strands, which helps the “staying power” of any hair-do, makes your hair appear fuller, and prevents your hair from “falling flat.”
Cons of washing hair in warm water:
- It can lead to overly porous hair: which is brittle and prone to fly-aways and breakage.
- Can potentially strip too much moisture from your hair, resulting in frizz: these cons are especially true for those who have naturally curly hair.
So now that we’ve seen the pros and cons of warm water, why don’t we look into washing hair with cold water.
Pros of washing hair in cold water
- Cold water locks in moisture: which smooths out your hair and, generally, keeps it stronger and healthier.
- Cold water leaves your hair shinier: with all the extra moisture your hair is smoother, which makes it shinier and usually softer. (And who doesn’t love a good dose of healthy shine?)
- Reduced frizz, fly-aways, and breakage: which is especially important for those with curly or thin hair.
Cons of washing hair in cold water
- Flattening: all the extra moisture that gets locked into your locks weighs down your hair. Heavy hair is typically prone to flattening, which is hard to fight with even the best hair spray.
- Less of a clean: if you go every-so-often without showering, or are prone to grease, excess oil won’t be cleaned out quite as well with cold water. This could leave you with a frustrating cycle of washing your hair more often with less clean.
So what should you do?
Now that you’ve seen the pros and cons of both water temperatures, how do you decide which is better for you- or even worse- what to actually do? The general consensus among experts is that neither is truly better than the other, but they are both better in certain areas.
It’s suggested that you use warm water to wash your hair if:
- Your hair is straight or wavy.
- Your hair is very thick (for a better clean) or very thin (for more texture).
- You don’t shower daily.
- Your hair has little to no texture (as in, unable to hold a curl or hair spray very well).
- And/or your hair is often oily.
- This ensures that you not only add texture to your hair to give it some bounce, but it allows you to thoroughly clean it as well.
On the other hand, you should wash your hair in cold water if:
- Your hair is curly.
- Your hair is dry.
- It’s prone to breakage.
- Your hair has a medium thickness or very thin (for moisture).
- You shower daily.
- And/or deal with excessive amounts of frizz.
Washing your hair in cold water ensures that you keep your hair well moisturized, shiny, and “tame”.
You may have noticed that thin hair was actually in both lists. This is because thin hair has some specific needs based on other factors at hand. If you hair is thin and excessively dry, opt for cold wash to boost moisture. On the other hand, if your hair is prone to falling flat it might be weighed down by too much moisture, so opt for warm water to add texture instead.
Furthermore, it’s generally advised by experts that- regardless of your hair type- you apply and rinse conditioner out in cold water to prevent excessive dry-out, frizz, or unnecessary damage to your hair.
Still not interested in taking a cold shower?
Well, we can’t say we blame you. We have a few tips for you as well:
- Try only rinsing with cold water, which means only a few minutes of cold- tops.
- Dial down the temperature of your shower to as warm, not hot, as you can stand and see if you can gradually lower the temperature over time.
- Try a shower cap to protect your hair. Either just wash your hair in water and throw on a cap after you add conditioner, or leave it on all together and finish in your sink. (Or in the bathtub!)
Do you have experience with washing hair in cold water or an argument for one temperature or the other? We’d love to hear your thoughts, comment below to let us know!