Does Cold Water Help Your Hair Grow?
From products used during the hair washing process to the food you eat, your hair health is impacted by internal and external factors — but which habits are the most beneficial?
Drinking water helps keep the body hydrated, healthy and energized, but will shampooing in cold water help hair grow faster? VEGAMOUR spoke to the experts to find out. Plus, discover what hair products you should use to encourage longer, thicker, fuller-looking hair.
The Benefits of Cold Water for Hair
How you shower is a pretty personal choice. Some people crave a hot shower in the morning, while others love a lukewarm water rinse in the evening. Hot and cold water can impact how your body looks and feels — and cold water, in particular, has garnered attention from wellness communities in recent months for its healing benefits.
So it makes sense that, like your body, your hair strands will be impacted depending on whether you choose to use hot or cold water for bathing. Dr. Gaby Longsworth, a certified hair practitioner and Ph.D. scientist, explained, "There is no evidence or scientific data to demonstrate that cold water improves the health of the hair. That said, using hot water when washing your hair dissolves and rinses away the protective sebum, which is not good for the scalp or the hair. So, in that sense, cold water is better for your scalp and hair health than hot water."
Is Hot Water Bad for Your Hair?
That's not to say you should completely give up that delicious hot shower on a cold winter's day. But, too much hot water, as Longsworth explained, could create issues. Washing in high temperatures can strip the hair and scalp of natural oils, damage hair cuticles and potentially cause dry hair. Stripping hair of its natural oils can also make hair overly porous, leading to frustrating, frizzy hair that's brittle and prone to breakage.
And what about hot water's effect on color?
"Hot water can certainly break down color pigments. In fact, any type of heat can fade hair color, including styling tools, sun, and hot water by raising the cuticles. If cold water is not an option, avoid exposing your hair to sun or high-heat styling tools," said Longsworth. Always use an all-natural heat protectant to help your color last longer too.
Related: How Often Can You Dye Your Hair?
Can Cool Water Accelerate Hair Growth?
Though the research is still sketchy, some experts have attempted to draw a connection between washing hair with cold water, hair growth and improved blood circulation. But Longsworth isn't one of them.
"There is no evidence or scientific data that cold water has an impact on hair growth," Longsworth said. "Instead, using properly pH-balanced products to wash and condition the hair is far more important. Ideally, hair products should have a pH between 4.5 and 5.5 to mimic the scalp’s natural pH."
What Else Can Cold Water Do for Hair?
Dr. Enrizza P. Factor, a clinical dermatologist and researcher, said, "Cold water can help your hair to become stronger and healthier over time. Cold water not only helps the scalp retain its moisture, [but] it also seals down the hair cuticles and helps lock moisture into the strands themselves."
The idea that cold water seals the hair's cuticle layer to enhance shine has long been promoted. Regardless of your hair type, it's believed cold water closes up pores to keep moisture in, creating softer, shinier hair and a healthy scalp. The theory is that cold water contracts the skin to encourage sealed cuticles, which encourages hair to lie flat and appear shinier.
Another big question surrounding cold water is how it affects color-treated strands. The answer? Cold water can help lock in pigment and, in turn, maintain your color.
The Downside of Washing Hair in Cold Water
Washing your hair in cold water can help preserve color, lock in moisture and control breakage, but it's not all good news.
- Cold water may cause your hair to lose volume and give you a thin hair look. If you're washing the hair in cold water consistently, you risk overloading the strands with extra moisture, according to Dr. Longsworth, pulling them down for a less voluminous look.
- It can be uncomfortable. As much as a quick blast might wake you up and help keep your scalp health in check, let's face it, in the middle of winter, it's the last thing you're going to want to do.
- Some believe that using cold water too often on your scalp could actually contract blood vessels and prevent hair from growing, but there's no evidence or research to say whether this is true or false.
- Cold water might not thoroughly cleanse an oily scalp.
The Ideal Water Temperature
The water temperature effect on your hair is clear, but what temperature should you use to keep your strands in the best condition?
"Warm water is best when washing hair, whereas colder water is best for conditioning the hair," explained Longsworth. "The warm water helps open the follicles and rinse buildup on the scalp and hair. The colder temperature helps tighten the cuticle layer, close the follicles, lock in moisture and make the hair look smooth and shiny. That said, if you simply can’t stomach washing hair with cold water, just stick with lukewarm water. The discomfort is not worth it."
GRO Revitalizing Shampoo & Conditioner has been enhanced with clinically proven plant actives and vegan keratin to encourage thicker, fuller and healthier hair — regardless of the water temperature you use. The vegan silk protein bonds to the hair follicles and remains attached long after the product has been rinsed out, leaving every strand nourished, hydrated and healthy. Using the duo will also help protect color-treated locks and encourage vibrant hair, no matter your hair type or texture.
Cold Water Can Be Part of a Healthy Hair Routine
How you wash your hair is personal. Some mornings you might crave a cold rinse; other mornings, you might just want to just enjoy the feeling of hot water on your skin. Both warm and cool showers have their benefits, but to keep hair in the healthiest condition, start off with warm and end with cold. The routine is unlikely to help you grow hair, but it does have its tress benefits. Rinse with cold water as part of a consistent hair wellness routine, and use nourishing products to keep hair glossy and healthy.
And remember, how you treat your wet hair post-wash is integral to its overall look and feel. "Any benefit of washing with cold water will be lost if you use a blow drier or flat iron after. Instead, air drying is best," Longsworth stated.
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