Washing your face daily is skin care 101.
Doing so gets rid of impurities such as dirt, debris, and bacteria, leaving skin clean and refreshed.
Things can get complicated when you’re unsure about how many times you should be washing your face per day, which products to use, or even what temperature of water to use. Lukewarm? Hot? Cold?
This article will explore whether cold or hot water is better for skin, in addition to providing you with expert face washing tips.
Washing with cold water affects skin in many positive ways. Acne prevention, for instance, is one of those potential benefits.
That’s because hot water strips the oils that can cause breakouts, says Sophia Knapp, a licensed cosmetologist at the skin care and cosmetics line Oxygenetix.
As a result, “it may trigger your skin into producing even more.” In this case, cold water can do a great job of regulating oil levels.
Cold water may also be better for certain skin conditions, such as rosacea. Hot water causes blood vessels to dilate more, making your skin appear redder.
Look to these benefits of cold water before taking the plunge.
Cold water can be especially beneficial for dry or acne-prone skin, says Knapp. “If you have chronically dry skin, hot water can strip your sebum levels (oils) and exacerbate the issue, so cold water is a good alternative.”
Secondly, while hot water opens pores, cold water closes them. This is beneficial for skin for a number of reasons, namely reducing the appearance of pores and depuffing the face.
You’ll also find several health benefits of cold showers, which is any shower with a water temperature below 70°F (21°C).
Some of the perks of cold showers — and any form of hydrotherapy — include improved circulation, increased endorphins, and a revved-up metabolism.
There are some drawbacks to using cold water on your face.
“Since cold water tightens your pores, bacteria and debris can get trapped and won’t clear out as easily as using warm water,” explains Knapp.
She recommends washing your face with lukewarm water first as a way to remove any makeup and pollutants from the day. “Then, end with a cold water rinse to tighten pores and promote blood circulation for a healthy glow.”
Still feeling hot and cold about what water temperature to use on your face? This breakdown of the pros and cons of cold water should help.
Washing your face with cold water increases blood flow
- According to
research, this stems from cold exposure sending blood flow to the exposed area.
- In turn, increased blood flow provides the skin with better protection from free radicals, such as pollution, and may give your skin a healthier glow.
Your face may not be as clean
- Since excess oils are not dissolved in cold water, your face will not be as clean as it could be. This can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.
- Anne Beal, MD, MPH, a physician, skin care expert, and CEO/founder of AbsoluteJOI Skincare, adds that a lot of the cleansing ingredients in your skin care products are designed for use with lukewarm water.
Why warm water might be best
“Warm water helps plump which makes your pores appear smaller, while cold water reduces puffiness,” says Beal.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your face in lukewarm water.
It’s the perfect middle ground for all skin types, as Beal explains that hot water strips your skin of the protective oils that help hold in moisture.
Another benefit of washing your face with warm water is that it allows for better absorption of your skin care products.
It’s important to decide on a temperature and stick with it. Beal cautions that you run the risk of breaking the small capillaries under your skin if you expose your skin to extremes in water temperature, such as switching from hot to cold.
In general, you should be washing your face twice per day — morning and night. Washing too much can actually dry your skin out and cause irritation.
“We collect an alarming amount of bacteria on our pillowcases, so a quick cleanse in the morning before your moisturizer is important,” explains Knapp.
That daytime wash is important, too, since it helps reduce the puffiness we often have when we first wake up, says Beal.
Knapp adds that a nighttime wash is essential for getting any makeup and debris that collected during the day off your skin.
Morning or before bed? The final word
The short answer: Both. Aim for sometime before bed and after you wake up.
- Be gentle. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using your fingertips to cleanse your face and patting dry with a soft towel afterward.
- Wash away sweat. Beal says that you should wash your face after any workout since sweat can clog pores.
- Stay hydrated. Keep your skin hydrated by consuming enough water per day. Health experts recommend eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
- Use products wisely. The ingredients you should look for in a face wash depend entirely on your skin type. Beal explains that most cleansing products with active ingredients don’t sit on your face long enough to be fully effective. “Instead, it is better to use a gentle cleanser on your skin, then use serums and lotions with the active ingredients you need, like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, vitamin C, and others.”
If you want to make a splash with your skin care routine, try washing your face in cold water. There are many benefits to this, such as tightened pores, acne prevention, and a face that looks more awake.
For most skin care needs, though, you should look to using lukewarm water.
You can also speak with a dermatologist or other skin care professional to determine what’s best for your individual skin needs.