Should You Wash Your Face with Cold or Warm Water?

Should You Wash Your Face with Cold or Warm Water?

TL;DR — The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your face with lukewarm water. This ensures your facial cleanser foams up, removes debris from your skin, and prevents your skin from getting dried out.

There are few feelings rival basking in a steaming hot shower after a long day at work (or a long night at the bar). Our research shows that most guys crank the heat to about 110°F before they hop in the shower. And while the high temps are proven to calm your mind, they’re also proven to irritate your skin—especially the sensitive skin on your moneymaker.

Hot water nukes your skin’s natural oils and jacks up your moisture barrier, which can aggravate skin concerns like acne, eczema, and rosacea. But do you really have to go David Goggins mode and take ice-cold showers every day to keep your skin looking healthy?

Keep reading to learn the ideal water temperature for washing your face and what happens if you blast the heat.

Should You Wash Your Face with Cold or Warm Water?

You should wash your face with lukewarm water (between 98°F and 105°F). Lukewarm water is the Goldilocks of face-washing temperatures—just right. It helps to dissolve dirt and excess oils without stripping your skin of its natural moisture barrier.

In case you’re wondering, we’re not pulling this answer out of our a$$. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your face with lukewarm water and our resident derms back up that advice.

Is Hot Water Bad for Your Skin?

We’ll give it to you straight: Hot water is no bueno for your skin, especially your face. Hot water (we’re talking above 105°F) can strip away your skin’s natural oils. This causes your sebaceous glands to go into overdrive, producing more sebum to replenish the dryness. Piping hot water can lead to irritation, redness, and an imbalance in your skin's moisture levels.

Regardless of your skin type, you should avoid cranking up the heat in the shower. But it’s especially important for dudes with dry or oily skin. If you have dry skin, hot water will zap the little moisture you have. On the other hand, oily skin often responds to having its natural oils removed by churning out even more oil, leaving your face looking shiny or causing clogged pores.

Does Face Wash Work With Cold Water?

Face wash can work with cold water, but it's like trying to open a stubborn jar of pickles without tapping the lid first—possible, but not ideal.

Cold water can make it harder for your cleanser to foam up and break down dirt, oil, and grime on your skin, leaving you with a less-than-squeaky-clean feeling.

Cold water also doesn't open up your pores, which can make it harder for your skin to soak up the ingredients in your facial cleanser. So, while it’s not completely ineffective, it's definitely not the optimal way to achieve that fresh-faced glow.

Is Cold Water Good for Your Skin?

Cold water (below 70°F) can definitely benefit your skin, especially if you deal with inflammatory conditions like acne, rosacea, or eczema. But there’s an important distinction: Cold water isn’t ideal for cleaning your skin.

Let’s break down 6 skin benefits of cold water.

1. Reduces Puffiness and Swelling

By constricting blood vessels, cold water helps decrease inflammation and gives your face a tighter, more awake look. It's like a mini ice pack for your entire face, minus the awkward stares at the office.

2. Soothes Irritation

Got sensitive skin? Cold water can calm redness and irritation, making it a gentle option for dudes with delicate complexions. Think of it as the cool cucumber slice in your skincare salad.

3. Reduces the Appearance of Pores

While it's a myth that cold water "closes" pores, it does make them appear smaller. Cold water causes your skin to contract, giving the illusion of tighter, more refined pores. It's a quick fix that won't solve pore size permanently, but it can give you that smooth-skin confidence boost.

4. Boosts Circulation

Splashing your face with cold water gives your circulation a wake-up call. It boosts blood flow, giving your skin a healthy, rosy glow that says, "I got eight hours of sleep," even if you didn't. It's like a caffeine shot for your complexion, minus the jitters.

5. Increases Skin Firmness

Cold water can increase skin firmness by encouraging collagen production. While it won't replace your pricey anti-aging serums, it can help keep your skin looking plump and youthful. So, if you want a firmer face without the needle, consider a cold splash.

6. Reduces Sebum Production

Cold water reduces sebum production, which is a fancy way of saying it can help control oily skin. By not triggering your skin to produce excess oil, it helps keep your face from turning into an oil slick by 3 p.m. Think of it as the anti-grease strategy your skin’s been craving.

Does Hot Water Open Your Pores?

No, hot water does not open your pores, because pores aren't doors—they don’t open and close. This common myth is as persistent as your gym buddy who swears by the benefits of celery juice.

The one benefit of hot water is that it temporarily softens your skin and loosens up the debris lodged inside your pores, making it easier to cleanse them. Just keep in mind that prolonged exposure to hot water can irritate your skin, leading to redness and dryness.

Bottom line: When you wash your face, stick with lukewarm water to keep your skin calm and cooperative.

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