Hot showers are a special kind of feeling. Those warm, steamy droplets cascading off your skin feel like a thousand minuscule hugs as you stand there, washing yourself and, as I assume others do, pondering life’s greatest wonders. Hot showers give you a tender and serene coziness on any cold night or early morning, and their mere presence makes even the most stressful days feel bearable.
I’m asking you to throw all of that away. I get it, people really love hot showers, but they’re bad for you. Not to say they’re entirely terrible in every regard, of course, seeing as they can induce sleep, relieve stress, and soothe muscle fatigue. The steam can also assist in clearing airways and nasal passages.
However, there is one massive consequence that come with your steaming source of serenity: skin inflammation. Hot showers damage skin cells – more specifically, keratin cells. These are located on the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, and the damage causes dryness while also limiting the cells’ ability to contain moisture.
And it gets worse – the longer and hotter the shower, the more moisture is lost. Sticking between five and ten minutes will mitigate this a bit, but the shorter the better.
You might be thinking, “Okay Hudson, yes, hot showers can be bad. But what’s so great about a cold shower? What’s the big benefit of freezing your butt off and losing what’s quite possibly the most tranquil part of your day? Huh? What’s the big benefit?”
To which I might reply, “Wow, okay. I’m getting there.”
Cold showers have a wide, wide range of benefits, including but not limited to the following:
Firstly, cold showers counteract the symptoms caused by hot ones: the colder water won’t only keep your skin from being inflamed or itchy, but will actually make your skin and hair stronger and provide a healthy glow in the process. Cold closes pores, whereas heat not only opens them, but dries them out as well.
In addition, cold showers help to increase blood circulation as your body works to maintain its inner temperature while growing colder on the outside. Better circulation means better cardiovascular health, and the newfound blood around our organs can assist in helping some skin and heart problems.
And you know how athletes take ice baths? Cold showers can yield a similar effect by reducing muscle soreness and speeding up recovery when taken after exercise.
It’s common sense that icy water can wake you up, but cold showers heighten energy levels too: the shock from the water causes your nerve endings to stand up. In the process, you begin to breathe more quickly, and your heart rate increases. This, in turn, makes you more alert, and much more prepared to take on the day than any cup of coffee.
And believe it or not, but cold showers can also help weight loss! Brown fat, more colloquially known as the “good fat,” helps keep the body warm during cold showers, and burns calories in its effort to do so.
Clearly, there’s a ridiculous amount of benefits in taking cold showers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s even more that I’m leaving out. If you can find the willpower to quit taking hot showers (or at least give “hot-to-cold” showers a try), I strongly recommend giving it a shot.
Also published on Medium.