One of the best feelings is waking up and taking a hot shower. It’s a great way to get your day started, which is why it is a standard part of most people’s morning routine, because let’s be honest, most people do not want to wake up and take a freezing cold shower (most people wouldn’t consider this “enjoyable”). But, if you are someone experiencing hair loss your shower habits matter a lot more than you might think.
This article is for people who are losing their hair that have never considered the fact that the way they shower may be contributing to their hair loss. Here’s the shocker: cold showers are much better for your hair than hot showers. Throughout this article, we will be discussing why this is so that not only do you understand how your shower habits affects your hair loss, but also to encourage folks to use cold water if they are serious about overcoming hair loss.
Let’s get into it.
Why hot water is bad for your hair
I know it sucks to hear that you might have to turn down the heat in order to save your hair, but the reality is that hot water is terrible for your hair, and there are a couple reasons why.
Firstly, hot water strips your hair of essential oils and moisture. This happens because hot water opens up the cuticle of your hair shaft, essentially making it more porous. This results in moisture being lost and hair becoming dry and brittle, and when hair is dry it can be much more easily damaged.
While this doesn’t affect pattern hair loss directly, it certainly doesn’t help. When you are trying to overcome pattern hair loss you want to do anything you can to keep the hair that you have in the best health possibly because healthy hair is able to grow quicker.
Second, the heat strips the hair of sebum: the natural oil that is produced by your scalp. Sebum helps protect hair and keep it strong while also keeping the scalp moist. When sebum is absent, the hair is more susceptible to damage and the scalp can begin to dry out, and what can result from a dry scalp? Dandruff (1).
Dandruff is bad news for people suffering from hair loss. Although it doesn’t affect it directly, there are several ways that dandruff can indirectly cause hair loss to worsen. The first is that it commonly causes itchiness. When you itch your scalp, you can permanently damage hair follicles at the root which is why itching has been linked to hair loss worsening. Dandruff also commonly causes inflammation, which, if prolonged, can lead to hair loss worsening as well (2).
Now, it is important to note that hair loss from inflammation and itching does not directly affect pattern hair loss (which is caused by DHT), so once dandruff is taken care of the hair that was lost should grow back in time (assuming it wasn’t going to be lost to pattern hair loss).
Opt for a cold shower instead
Now I get it, taking a cold shower doesn’t sound like the most pleasant thing in the world, but it may be able to help save your hair. Personally, I use cold water only when rinsing my hair and then use warm (not hot) water for the rest of my body.
Cold water helps close the cuticle. The hair cuticle is essentially like a shingle roof with layers of keratin acting as the “shingles.” When you shower with hot water the shingles get raised up which allows moisture to escape, but when you shower with cold water the keratin shingles close which leaves hair looking shiny, smooth, retains moisture, and helps protect it against damage.
But, although it’s nice, the main benefit if taking cold showers isn’t closing the cuticle, it is that it helps boost circulation (3). When cold water hits your skin (and scalp) it causes the blood vessels on the surface to constrict. This results in better blood flow throughout the deeper tissues and brings with it many health benefits. When the cold water is no longer stimulating constriction in the outer blood vessels, they begin to dilate (open) again. This improves blood flow to the entire body including the hair and scalp.
Blood flow is one of the most important factors of hair regrowth. This is because blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles that they use to grow. Low blood flow is also associated with hair loss (4), which is why one of the primary ways to regrow hair (which is what treatments like minoxidil target) is by increasing blood flow.
By increasing circulation, taking cold showers can help improve blood flow and possibly contribute to hair regrowth and/or compound the effects of other blood flow enhancing treatments like minoxidil.
As you have hopefully realized by now, the way that you shower matters a lot for your hairs health, especially if you are trying to overcome hair loss.
Taking hot showers has a lot of negative effects on the hair, while taking cold showers not only avoids the negative side effects, but can also improve circulation which is vastly important for hair regrowth.
It may be uncomfortable, but cold showers are definitely worth it. Don’t let hot showers ruin your chances of beating hair loss, turn down the heat.