What is the Right temperature to Wash Your Hair: Hot or Cold - hair buddha
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What is the Right temperature to Wash Your Hair: Hot or Cold

 right temperature to wash hair

In the quest to keep our hair healthy and strong, we worry about what shampoo to use, what oils to apply and what supplements to take.

But water temperature?

Is that even an issue?

Or maybe it is.

You don’t have to carry a thermometer in the shower, you know when the water is hot and when it is warm and when it is cool. And the one to avoid categorically is hot water.

So what’s the right temperature for the shower?

When you are cooking a dish, it’s important to get the temperature right. You might have the best recipe, but if you can’t control the lows and highs of flame, you can leave the food undercooked or overcooked. And that won’t transform into a tasty treat.

Likewise, when you are washing your hair, you need to have an optimum temperature. Of course, if you keep it too hot, you won’t cook your hair. But hot water can dry out the scalp and trigger rash and itching. Hot water can also leave your hair frizzy and lackluster. And if you have a habit of taking hot showers, your hair may become dry, dull and frizzy over time as well as break easily (read more here).

So yes, hot water is a no-no.

Either lukewarm or cool water is a good bet. Some people prefer cool over warm and some warm over cool. As long as hot water is not in the picture, you are on the right track.

But we can get more specific on when to use warm water and when to use cool water.

The oilier your hair, the better it will clean with warm water.

I remember a few years back I had read the benefits of cold water shower. So I thought of putting it to practice and bear the torment of cold water. It was not something I was looking forward to. But I thought it was doable, so why not test it out.

And you know I like to oil my hair before shampooing. Without thinking twice, I got to the usual business of showering, same soap and shampoo. It didn’t occur to me that cold water will not remove the oil from hair. And it didn’t. And I had a family get-together to attend later on. With oil still sitting on my hair, it didn’t look pretty at all. I don’t care about make-up or anything, but my hair is something I am conscious of. Of course, in an ideal world, I shouldn’t be. But I still am.

So my discovery was cold water doesn’t get rid of the oil from hair.

And you need warm water.


The heat of water loosens the oil molecules and makes it less viscous (and more runny). And this makes it easier for the shampoo and water to remove it.

Also, warm water opens the pores of the scalp and assists in removing deep-down dirt and grease. All in all, warmer temperature ensures gentle but thorough cleansing of oil, dirt and impurities from hair. And this is especially relevant if you got oily hair or you oil hair pre-shampoo.

Okay, so now you know what warm water does. Now let’s talk about cold water.

Cold water helps your hair remain non-greasy for longer

As we have just seen, warm water opens pores. But cold water will help seal them. It acts as an astringent and helps to tighten the skin and close pores. And this helps slow down the secretion of sebum and keep your hair from getting oily for longer.

So there are benefits of using both warm and cold water. But when to use which?

Cool water to wash hair

I suggest that you follow a sequence. First, use warm water to get rid of the grease and dirt and then seal the scalp pores with a cold rinse. It doesn’t have to be intolerably cold, but more like cool and pleasant. 

And there’s one more amazing benefit of using contrast temperature: warm and cold

Warm water dilates the blood vessels, and cold water constricts or narrows it. And the alternating dilation and constriction creates a sort of pumping action and gets the blood flowing on the scalp. As blood flow improves, it brings more oxygen and nutrients to the hair root. What’s more, better circulation also helps remove waste and toxins that could be causing your hair to grow more slowly. 

So yes, doing some tweaks to the water temperature can mean a big difference to the shine and health of your hair. 

Let’s sum it up:

-Water temperature matters. The one to avoid definitely is hot water.

-Use warm water at the start, and it will help remove dirt and grease.

-And then follow up with cool water. It will help seal the pores of your scalp and keep your hair from getting greasy for longer.

-Using the contrast water temperatures – warm first and then cold – you improve blood flow to the scalp and that in turn will make hair grow stronger and healthier.

What is your temperature preference?  Please let me know in the comment box below….

Next Article: Why Hot Showers Can Cause Hair Loss: 3 Reasons You Must Avoid it

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