The state of your hair can tell you a lot about your health and what your hair needs to thrive!
What has your hair been trying to say to you lately? Is it frizzy? Are you experiencing a lot of breakage? Does it look like it is not growing? Me, myself? I am obsessed with the thought of healthy shiny ringlets.
Unfortunately, this means that when wearing my hair in its natural state it is easy for me to get caught up in products that promise frizz-free curls. More times than not, these same products lead to a greasy mop on top of my head. Naturally, that means that when searching for at home remedies to keep my hair looking healthy and enviable the idea that rinsing my hair with cold water could be a cure-all for my curls stole my attention.
Keep reading to discover the benefits of rinsing your hair with cold water.
Cold Water Science
Here’s what I know about cold water: Pharell uses it.
Even though that gives me all of the information that I need to know I should probably give you more. To expand on that Pharell, the alien that does not age credits cold water and Naomi Campbell (another member of the ageless species) for his face’s youthful appearance. He has told countless publications that Cambell shared her secret to fantastic skin: wash your face with cold water.
After digging into the science of water temperatures and its effects on skin cells I learned quite a few things. Warm water is known to open up your pores. Open pores allow cleaning agents to get into them to clear them of dirt and oils.
Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, cold water is known to close those open pores. Now what you may not know is that open pores cause the skin to sag. Sagging skin leads to aging skin and thus creates an older looking appearance overall. So, washing your face with cold water will reverse that which is why the technique is considered far and wide in the anti-aging industry in regards to skin care.
Remember, the science is the same whether you’re dealing with pores on your face or pores on your scalp. Through my deductive reasoning, I figured that this has to mean that cold water somehow benefits your hair by means of your scalp pores.
Technically, yes it does. However, because your hair strand has a layer of cells around it cold water can affect the appearance of the actual strand as well.
One term that you should know the meaning of is cuticle: the cuticle is the outer layer of the hair shaft. It is composed of overlapping cells that resemble shingles on a roof. Depending on the water temperature that you use, the cuticle can open and close around the hair strand.
If you are experiencing some confusion figuring out what that means for you, let me unpack this even further.
A cold water wash or rinse of your tresses can:
1. Increase Shine
Cold water closes your hair’s cuticle and forces the cuticle cells to lay down on top of each other and present a smooth, shiny appearance.
The smoothed cuticle layer reflects light and gives your hair shaft the impression of shine. For all of my ladies with bleached or colored locs this is crucial for the appearance of your hair!
It is summer time, so I know a lot of you are thinking of going blonde, which also means many of you will have a day or three where you are walking around looking like you have a stack on hay on top of your head. I am trying to save you, sis!
A few cold water rinses will aid in eliminating the straw look and stop you from looking like a character from the Wizard of Oz, I know. I’ve been there.
2. Reduce Frizz
Moisturized hair is sleek and less susceptible to the plague of frizz.
Before training my curls and coming up with the moisturizing regimen that works for me, the crown of my curls were always frizzy. A frizzy crown can mess up your entire look, but thankfully cold water helped me with that.
While cold water can help your hair in many ways, let’s not pretend that warm to hot water lacks its benefits. Remember, warm water opens the pores on your skin to cleanse it and get rid of all of the sweat and product from your scalp. In that same vein, while cold water snaps the hair cuticles shut, warm water opens the cuticle which aids in cleansing the hair strand.
An open cuticle allows for shampoo to penetrate the hair and clean it effectively, which is needed because all of that build up is prohibiting growth and moisture retention.
Keep in mind that you do need some form of warm water to combat that and increase your hair’s ability to be moisturized. However, hot water is what rinses out the build-up it when you shampoo meaning that it will rinse out the moisture when you condition. It is the cold water that will seal the moisture once you reintroduce conditioner to your hair shaft.
Apply your conditioner to your hair and then rinse with cold water to not only rinse away any excess conditioner.
But also close the cuticle and lock in water and the moisturizing ingredients allowing the product to work also helping to eliminate the frizz before it attacks.
3. Help to Eliminate Dandruff
Have you ever stepped out the shower after washing your hair and had the urge to scratch it.
Even more mortifying is finding skin cells underneath your fingertips because you could not wash out all of the dandruff that you may experience on a regular basis. Be real with yourself; you got all of the conditioner out, you are suffering from a flaky scalp.
Welp, hitting the scalp with some cold water can make sure that rarely happens again! Remember because hot water is ridding your hair of all of its oils it is extremely drying to the scalp.
When the cold water locks the cell skins of your scalp down flat, it is essentially lessening the occurrence of flakes that appear from dry skin.
4. Improves Blood Circulation to the Scalp
You may get tired of hearing this, especially from all of my articles, but good blood circulation is essential for the overall promotion of hair growth.
While most think that blood flow to the scalp if increased with a scalp massage (which it is) introducing cold water into your wash routine can helps the blood circulation as well. While you are rinsing with cold water, you are now alternating between the hot and cold water exposed to your scalp and that temperature variation while is an easy way to improve circulation.
When exposed to cold water, our arteries and veins constrict or tighten or tighten up. This scientific name for this process is called vasoconstriction.
While these veins are tightening it helps the blood flowing to the scalp to flow at a higher pressure because now there is less space for the blood to flow. The result to this is circulation will improve.
Vasodilation, the scientific word for veins expanding and enlarging, and accomplished when we are hitting our scalp with warm to hot water temperatures.
Your body naturally starts to circulate the blood rapidly to all of your organs when exposed to cold water and remember the skin in your body’s largest organ. The body does that you keep you warm and consequently increases blood flow.
As you may or may not know, the blood circulating to your follicles carries the nutrients needed to spur hair growth so the more it circulates, the better.
How to Modify Your Wash Day Routine
Many of you are probably washing your hair with hot water all the way through your wash day process.
To get used to the idea of rinsing your hair with cool water you might want to take baby steps and start washing your hair with warm water through the entire washing and conditioning process.
Because you won’t see the effects of a cold to cold water rinse for a couple of washes, there is no need to make a drastic change. Once you have gotten used to the warm water step it up a notch; go full throttle and turn the water dial to cool when you are conditioning your hair. The key is not eliminating warm water, but incorporating cool water.
I am not suggesting that you participate in the ice bucket challenge every time you want to wash or deep condition your locks. For the cold water rinse to work your whole body does not have to suffer the extreme shock of turning the shower knob from red to blue.
If you entirely against a cold shower in the winter time.
Try these hacks instead:
Purchase a gallon of water from your grocery store and keep it in the refrigerator.
If you are washing your hair in the shower keep the gallon by your tub while washing your hair, After washing your hair and applying your conditioner, throw your head over the side of the bathtub and pour the now cool gallon of water over your tresses to get out all of the product.
This trick is a hack I learned from my mom when she lived in Italy! So many people do a final rinse of their hair with bottled water if they are washing their hair overseas or somewhere with a harsh water pressure.
You can modify it to fit your needs!
Before washing and conditioning your hair, fill your sink up with cold water and a few ice cubes to keep the water cold.
I know that while waiting the 20 required minutes to deep conditioner my curls, I like to get dressed and start on other tasks that I need to get done, so the thought of re-entering the shower is more or less annoying.
If you are like me you can use the sink to dunk your head into the shallow bath you have prepared and get the same effects as rinsing your hair with cold water.
If you are just not into a freezing cold scalp, you can use a shower head to spray the cold water towards the bulk of your hair and run it along the length of your hair.
Avoiding the scalp may not get you all of the benefits you need on your head, but it will save some of the conditioning agents and lipids and give you shine along the hair shaft.
The Icey Truth
Unfortunately, you will not see results from cold water temperatures instantly.
The amount of time it takes to impact your hair fully is why a lot of naysayers will say that you are wasting your time with the cold water trick. Nevertheless, whether you are freezing in the shower for thirty seconds or dumping your head in a bucket of ice water, no one can combat the science behind what cold water does to cells and the hair cuticle.
You can take advantage of the lockdown effect is has on cells and pair it with the right conditioner to achieve moisturized tresses and a healthier head of hair.