Hot or Cold: Does Water Temperature Affect Natural Hair?

Updated on January 27th, 2020
hot or cold water for hair

Are you wondering what the ideal water temperature for hair wash should be? Remember that your curls need TLC, and everything from the right hair care product to set the water temperature is critical. Coldwater is ideal for hair wash, for some and hot water works better for others. So, what’s the right answer for you? Let’s learn the benefits of hot or cold water for hair and see which one suits what kind of hair type.

What Does Hot Water Do to Your Hair?

Hot Water Bath

Warm water is critical for cleansing hair at the start of a wash day. The reason for this is because warm water causes hair cuticles and pores on the scalp to open up, removing residue, buildup, or dirt from the hair and scalp. It’s like washing your face with warm water. Warm water removes oil and dirt, opening up the pores. However, it does create frizz and makes hair dry, too. It should ideally be used for hair cleansing.

Essentially, hot water steams and opens up the skin’s pores. It also removes excess scalp dirt. Exfoliating with hot water causes dirt and impurities clogging the orifice to be washed away. It is excellent for unclogging hair follicles(1) as well. Hot water cleans the scalp, yet impacts the ability to grow hair. It makes the strands porous.

They are, therefore, more receiving of the elements, rather than being tightly sealed. Excessively porous hair becomes brittle, dry, and prone to breakage. Washing away oil and dirt is excellent for healthy hair. But do remember that when your hair lacks natural oils (which hot water washes away), your tresses become drab and dull, losing their thickness.

As we age, this can be a real problem. This is because younger individuals replace a thin layer of skin and oil on the scalp way faster. Inflammation from hot water causes dry, itchy skin that negatively impacts hair growth.

What Does Cold Water Do to Your Hair?

There’s a reason why haircare experts adore cold water rinses – they are ideal after a hot shower. Coldwater delivers nutrients and minerals to the scalp by improving blood circulation. Better circulation helps in actual waste and toxin removal and boosts hair growth. Along with enhanced circulation, cold water tightens the hair cuticles, leaving hair strands shiny and robust. Coldwater seals in the moisture and prevents fizziness.

[Read: Health Benefits of Ice Bath]

Cold Versus Hot Water Comparison

Hot Water  Cold Water 
Hot water for hair affects scalp health and causes temporary inflammation Coldwater is good for scalp health and seals in the moisture.
Hot water causes weaker strands to break off Coldwater strengthens hair growth.
Hot water cleans the hair, including toxin removal, by opening the pores and cleansing the scalp thoroughly. Coldwater seals cuticles and soothes the scalp.
Hot water makes hair frizzy. Coldwater makes hair remove volume.

Tips for Washing Your Hair

1. Try Lukewarm Water Instead of Hot

Wash and condition your hair with lukewarm water for the best results. Boiling water can burn or damage the scalp, or even dry the hair.

2. Finish with Cold Water


Always finish your hair wash with cold water to keep hair healthy, ready to grow, and shiny. Just 10-15 seconds under a cold tap tightens the cuticles and strengthens circulation.

When to Use Hot and Cold Water?

Coldwater is used when rinsing conditioner in the hair, towards the close of a wash. It closes cuticles and scalp pores, adding shine and luster to your hair strands. It seals the hair’s moisture and also clumps and flattens the hair. Water temperature can impact the hair in different ways.

To open your pores, opt for hot water, which acts as a sauna(2). It gets rid of excessive dirt or oil in the hair, opening the scalp to absorb natural oils and moisture high for hair growth. Coldwater, on the other side, closes pores, leaving the scalp hydrated. It prevents dirt and oil from entering the scalp, leaving it vulnerable to pollution, oil, and grease.

[Read: Rice Water for Hair Growth]

Drawbacks of Hot or Cold Water for Hair

Rinsing with hot water results in taking away essential oils and moisture from your hair. This step can leave your scalp dehydrated and hair frizzy and static. Coldwater, on the other hand, traps moisture and does not let it go from your hair.

Due to excess humidity, hair looks flat, with zero volume. Additionally, cold water may not remove excess oil, dirt, and debris because it prevents water molecules from moving faster. High-temperature bonds the water and cleanser and the dirt or shampoo, preventing toxins and impurities from reattaching to the strands.

Curly-haired individuals also believe cold water prevents frizz, as it closes strand cuticles. Consequently, the moisture does not leave the strands. Coldwater does not close cuticles, but hair products do. So using cold water does not necessarily guarantee frizz-free hairstyles.

[Read: Bleach Your Hair at Home]

Best of Both Worlds

The perfect wat to deal with the situation is to wash using cold and hot water both. As hot water elevates the cuticles of the strands, moisture leaves the strands quickly. Consequently, the hair appears dry. Excessive hot water causes hair to lose strength in the long term. As cold water does not elevate cuticles excessively, washing with cold water retains moisture.

Start with warm water, therefore. Using your favorite shampoo and plenty of hot water, get that extra oil and dirt out of your hair. The water should be hot but not lukewarm. Don’t burn your skin! Rinse the shampoo with lukewarm water and apply the conditioner. The next step is to wash off the conditioner with cold water. All that’s left to do is watch people appreciate your beautiful and gorgeous hair next.

So, that sums up the issues that may be stemming from using excessively hot or chilly cold water for your hair. Remember that hair may appear healthy, but it is very fragile. Those braids, curls, or locks need to be cared for, and alternating between lukewarm and cold water may be the best option, in any case.

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