Embrace the cold with cold showers. Find out why.

by Kinga Sümegi January 04, 2021

Cold shower benefits, beautiful womans standing under a shower with water raining down on her while she smiles with eyes closed

Hot or warm showers are part of most people’s daily routine, while cold showers are usually restricted to rare occasions when we are craving to cool off in the middle of boiling summer days. And all this is not surprising: letting warm water run down your back gives a relaxing sensation which makes showering a lot more appealing, even tempting after a long and stressful day. Did you know though that showering every day with 35 or even 40 degrees water is not good for your health? You do much more for your immune system and your skin by introducing cold showers into your daily routine.

Why regular hot showers are unhealthy?

There is one scientific fact that everyone who has ever washed a dish knows about hot water, which is that hot water degreases much more efficiently. Try washing a really yucky plate with freezing cold water and you’ll see: nothing will happen.

But what does this have to do with your health? As you might know, a thin layer of sebum (an oily substance) covers the skin, which keeps it naturally hydrated, makes it waterproof and protects it from bacteria. So, whenever you take a hot shower, as a result of the degreasing potential of hot water, you damage this thin layer of sebum and make your skin much more vulnerable and sensitive for the cold and diseases. If the amount of sebum is not sufficient, your epidermis gets dehydrated and loses its elasticity, which will result in tiny little cracks appearing on the surface of your skin. Does this description sound familiar? Much like your hands and facial skin in wintertime?

Youthful womans dry cracking skin fading into supple beautiful hydrated skin

Well, this is where regular cold showers can help, especially in cold weather. Challenging yourself with standing under freezing water might not bring you the most relaxing showering experience, but it will help your skin prepare for the cold weather and stay hydrated throughout the year. Read on and find out how exactly.

Benefits of taking cold showers

In order for it to be worth the sensation of being poked with a thousand needles, showering with cold water must have some extraordinary benefits to convince people they should opt for them regularly. Unlike the alkaline water trend, cold showers actually live up to the hype. In an experiment of just 30 days, a study of over 3000 participants showed that a hot-to-cold shower regimen results in a 29% reduction in sickness. Now let’s just collect the most important benefits of regularly taking cold showers. Among other things, cold showers

  • wake you up in the morning: If you take a cold shower in the morning, it is guaranteed that you will not fall back asleep even if you do not have enough milk for your morning coffee. If you are the kind of person who takes their daily shower in the morning, you are going to notice how much fresher and more energetic the beginning of your days are going to be if you cool down the water temperature, and ending with cold will really get you invigorated to get started on your skincare routine. 
    Woman holding out hand with red painted nails inside tiled shower stall with water spraying down on it
  • increase circulation: Cold water starts blood circulation in the top layer of your skin, on the surface of your body – so don’t be shocked if your skin turns red after standing under cold water for a few minutes. As a result, blood in your deeper tissues also starts circulating faster in order to keep your body temperature at an optimal level.
  • boost your immune system and make you less likely to get sick: If you are used to the sensation of cold hitting your body, winter temperatures will be less challenging for you, as your body will be prepared to quickly react in order to keep you warm.
  • reduce muscle soreness: Showering with cold water helps your muscles relax and start the regeneration process after a hard workout.
  • help you lose weight: Some cells (like brown fat) in your body can generate heat by burning fat when temperature suddenly falls. This does not mean that you can completely quit all kinds of physical activity and take cold showers 5 times a day instead, but regularly standing under cold water does make losing weight easier.
  • make your skin and hair glowing and radiant: Positive effects of cold showers on your skin have already been mentioned above, but we should not leave out the fact that cold water also makes your hair stronger and healthier by closing and strengthening your hair cuticles (the outermost part of the hair shaft).
    Beautiful woman laying on sandy dunes with wavy golden hair flowing
  • help to calm itchy skin: Cold showers can help you resist the temptation to scratch your skin, whether you have a permanent skin condition that makes your skin itchy on a regular basis, or if you simply have tons of mosquito bites after a summer evening spent outdoors. Glowing Orchids lavender body cream is also phenomenal for this. 

 

Chrome showerhead spraying water in grey shower enclosure

How to get started?

If you are seriously considering introducing cold showers into your daily routine – which you definitely should, there are many different ways to get started. Which method you choose depends entirely on your personality.

If you are a real go getter, the next time you take a shower, set the temperature to the coldest possible right at the beginning, and try to do everything the way you usually do it in case of a regular shower. You are probably going to notice that you finish showering much faster and that you use a lot less water (hurray for the planet!). Later on, try gradually extending the amount of time you spend standing under cold water. 

Woman under shower head getting rained on by water showering

If you do not like quick changes, it is also ok to decrease the water temperature gradually (either day by day or during the shower). This way, it is not going to be such a shock, but you can still enjoy the benefits of cold water.

Another method you can try is quickly alternating between warm and cold water.

Start off by simply ending your showers with a splash of cold and work your way up to a full 30 seconds. Then when you are ready, alternate 30 seconds hot and 30 seconds cold for 3 rounds. By the 3rd round there is no more screaming, and you may even find yourself leaving the cold on longer just to show yourself how tough you've gotten. Pro tip, start a 30 second interval timer before you hop in. This is exactly how Judit does it after a workout and a sauna session. More about saunas in a future article. 

Over time you will find it easier to handle the cold periods longer and longer, until finally you will be able to leave out the warm periods altogether. This not only builds your immune system, helps you reach your glow potential but it also builds character.

Want to go even further? Try the Wim Hof method!

Iceman Wim Hoff Method Outside In the Snow on mountain Cold in beanie hat

 

After having tried taking regular cold showers, if you like its effects, there is always room for further development. Have you heard of the Wim Hof method? The method itself is named after its inventor: Wim Hof, the “iceman”, who, with long years of work and research, developed a method that helps people around the world live a healthier and more balanced life. The method combines 3 pillars: cold therapy, breathing and commitment. You can find step-by-step descriptions and instructions about how to properly practice the Wim Hof method, in order to enjoy the benefits of it, which include:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Strengthened focus & determination
  • Increased willpower
  • Stronger immune system

Find out more about the Wim Hof method on the official website,

or from this TED talk:

When should you NOT take cold showers?

In case you are already cold, it might not be the best idea to stand under freezing water, as it will just further lower your body temperature and make the process of warming back up a lot longer.

The same goes if you are sick, as extremely cold temperatures will not help your already weakened immune system in the recovery process. Wait until you get better, and start taking cold showers again only if you feel at 100% again.

Start living a healthier life today!

Every beginning is difficult, but they do not always lead to such beneficial endings. If you are up for a new challenge and want to improve your general well-being, cold showers are just the right thing for you. The first few days may be difficult, but after getting used to this new sensation, the numerous benefits of cold showers will quickly outweigh the temporary discomfort you might feel at first. Give it a try, because this is something you will not regret!
Healthy life sign up ahead right turn



Kinga Sümegi
Kinga Sümegi

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