Water temperature is probably not the first thing you think about when it comes to hair care. If you’re anything like me, you probably hop in the shower and blast that hot water because it feels so good! But after doing some research on the affects of hot and cold water on hair, you might want to think twice about which way you turn the dial.

We’ve got some of the pros and cons to using hot and cold water to help you decide.

Hot Water

PRO: Rinses Away Dirt and Oil

Hot water and steam naturally open the pores, which is great for exfoliating and removing the oil from your skin. If you have a very oily scalp, washing with hot water can be beneficial. Warm water allows the dirt and hair product that has accumulated on your scalp to escape the pores and be rinsed away. It’s especially important to cleanse your hair of all hair products for your next styling. Overall, warm water might be more beneficial in the cleansing part of your regimen.

CON: May Result in Overly Porous Hair

Although hot water opens up the pores and the cuticle of your hair shaft, rinsing your hair with hot water too often can leave the hair overly porous, causing it to be dry and brittle. Unfortunately, hot water seems to be a double edged sword. Just as hot water helps to rinse away the oil and dirt, it also strips your hair of its natural oils. The sebaceous glands in your skin produce natural oils called “sebum” that are essential for your hair’s health. Sebum gives the hair shine and strength, both of which are vital for beautiful hair.

CON: Causes Frizz

Heat causes frizz, and hot water is no exception. No matter what your hair type, the hair needs moisture to stay frizz free. Because hot water can strip the hair of natural oils, moisture escapes the hair shaft and results in frizz. If your hair is especially prone to frizz, you might want to turn off the hot water.

Cold Water

PRO: Seals the Moisture in Your Hair

Just the opposite of hot water, cold water closes the pores and prevents dirt from entering and accumulating on the scalp. Not only does it close the pores, but it closes the hair cuticle, sealing the moisture from the conditioner that you applied to your hair. Whereas hot water can remove the moisture from your hair, cold water retains the moisture and the natural sebum that’s so beneficial. Don’t forget, more moisture means fewer frizzes. Cold water retains your hair’s moisture, leaving your hair less prone to frizz.

PRO: Increases Shine

Sometimes stylists like to finish blow drying with a blast of cold air because it leaves the hair shiny. The same concept can be applied to a cold water rinse. Cold water is known to smooth hair by closing the scales of your hair cuticle, which in turn prevents frizz and adds luster to your locks.

CON: Flattens Hair

Because cold water leaves the hair smooth, it can also flatten your hair if you have a naturally thin texture. If your hair lacks in volume, or if you live in a particularly arid environment, rinsing your hair with cold water might result in flat hair and curls with no bounce.

What’s a Curly to Do?

All right, so what’s the verdict? Hot water is better for rinsing your hair of dirt and grease, but it dries the strands. Cold water, on the other hand, adds shine, seals the moisture in your hair and prevents frizz. The solution? CurlyNikki advises that you use both!

  • Cleanse, condition, and detangle your hair with WARM water, not hot. You don’t want to burn your skin and your scalp.
  • When you’re ready to rinse out the conditioner, turn the dial to COOL and run it over your hair for a final rinse.

If you’re one who absolutely cannot stand to use cold water in the shower, but feel that cold water is best for your hair, try using a shower cap during your warm daily showers. When it’s time to wash your hair, sit on the tub to wash your hair underneath the faucet of cold water. Your hair can still reap the benefits without you having to endure a cold shower.

Did you notice a difference? If you’ve tried rinsing with cold water we would love to hear about your results!

I co-poo with warm water, and I noticed a difference right away the first time I rinsed in cold water. My hair feels smoother, and I need maybe half the product I did when I rinsed with warm/hot water. I have a huge walk-in shower, so I'm able to step off to the side and rinse in cold without getting too cold. But before that, I used a cup in the tub - just switch from shower to tub (but your feet will get cold).
I'm always wondering if my cold rinses are entirely necessary. My sopping wet head will get cold after a warm shower within the few minutes anyways, and I'm assuming the cuticle will close then (since it's getting cold). I haven't really noticed a difference.
I agree, especially for less porous hair. I usually rinse out conditioner with cold water and proceed with washing the rest of my skin with cold water because I don't sweat a lot and my skin is very dry. I just wanted to put that out there; the concept above works the same with your skin.