Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Cold Showers for Acne — Are They Worth It?

By Dr. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC, Double board-certified dermatologist

Ever heard that cold water has an effect on acne? Sure, it is admittedly far less pleasant to take a bath in cold water versus soaking in warm water, but a cold shower can have an incredibly rejuvenating effect on your entire well-being. It replenishes your immune system, can help calm your mind and can greatly improve the state of your skin. In fact, cold water can not only generally improve your complexion, but it can help relieve even the most severe kind of acne when paired with your skincare routine.

Cold showers can give surprising health benefits to your body and skin.

It’s True: Cold Showers Can Benefit Your Acne Routine

If you have acne and have been struggling with it for years, you sometimes feel desperate—especially if you begin to notice acne creeping up onto your chest and back.

Beauty magazines often tout cold showers as an effective strategy for achieving clearer skin. If you’re not seeing results with your acne routine, this could be why. All this time you had been taking boiling hot showers, hoping that this will successfully open up your pores and let all the sebum ooze out until your skin is finally clear. And yet, it seems like the cold shower method could actually be able to bring some relief.

It sounds pretty uncomfortable, to say the least. However, showering with cold water is a method that has been used for centuries, helping to improve everything from moods and blood circulation. Even nowadays, residents of Finland make frequent use of the technique to maintain their glowing, fresh skin amid the freezing Finnish air.

Cold showers are probably almost unbearable at first, but soon they become just another habit. The best part? You start to see positive results. Your skin begins to clear up.

After a few months of only showering in cold water, you may notice benefits. Old scars begin to look like they are disappearing, while new pimples become less frequent. Not only can cold showers help zits and scars disappear, but the overall quality of your skin may be improved. For example, you may notice a smoother complexion, a healthier tone, and generally glowing, fresh-looking skin on your face, chest and back.

It’s not likely that ditching your entire acne regimen and only using freezing cold water will help your acne. However, showering in cold water is an easy way to bolster a scientifically proven acne routine, like the Exposed Skincare Basic Kit. There is no one “miracle” cure for acne, but as part of a multi-pronged approach to skincare, combining a results-driven acne routine with cold showers will achieve clearer skin.

What Are The Actual Benefits Of Cold Showers For Your Skin?

Why do cold showers work? As mentioned, many anti-acne advice columns preach the benefits of warm showers. They are meant to unclog your pores and release stocked up sebum, which would otherwise turn into pimples. They also allegedly make exfoliating easier, as the dead skin cells are triggered by the warmth. So, what is the nature of the problem with warm showers?

The main problem with warm showers is that they decrease the sebum in your skin and can completely get rid of even healthy amounts of the substance that your skin needs to remain hydrated. Thus, while it may seem like hot water is moisturizing your skin, it is actually dehydrating it in the long run. This is because you need the natural oil released by your sebaceous glands in order to maintain a hydrated complexion.

If that wasn’t bad enough, warm showers not only completely do away with your sebum; they also stimulate your body to produce even more of it. By getting your natural oil levels to a minimum, hot water actually triggers the body’s sebum production! Your sebaceous glands actually begin to work at a multiplied rate, in order to produce all the necessary sebum once more.

The effect of this on your skin is detrimental – it multiplies the rate at which pimples will appear on its surface. Do you notice more acne on your face during the winter months? That may simply be because your increasingly warmer showers actually stimulate the production of your natural oils. Now that we have busted the myth of hot showers and their supposed beneficial effect on your skin, we can move on to why cold showers help counter this.

Cold showers do not stimulate sebum production, because pores remain mostly closed when hit with cold water. Tighter pores are directly correlated with less acne, as they do not allow germs, oil, keratin or beauty product particles to become stuck inside. Therefore, cold showers also help with the peeling of dry skin, as your skin remains mostly intact when hydrated with cold water.

Not only does cold water help decrease acne; it also generally replenishes your complexion.

Cold water trains your skin to withstand outside effects and the closing of pores helps it stay clean and fresh for longer.

Last but not least, taking a cold shower has innumerable mental health benefits. Bathing in cold water reduces stress, and brings about a good mood and positive feelings. Why? Think of it this way: Taking a cold shower in the morning makes you feel incredibly accomplished. After all, the first thing you did on that day was to face your fear of freezing temperatures and use your willpower to do something terribly unpleasant, but also unbelievably beneficial. After facing such a high-stress event first thing in the morning, there is little else that can phase you later on. What more do you need to feel like Superman for the rest of the day?

Research shows that reduced levels of stress directly equal less acne. That is because less stress and reduced levels of worry result in lower amounts of cortisol in your system. Granted, your cortisol will shoot up when you first enter the freezing shower, but you will come out of the bath renewed, accomplished and proud. Your resistance to insulin will also soar because of the lowered cortisol, leaving you with less breakouts. Not only that, but you will find yourself enjoying better rest, and there is nothing more rejuvenating for the body, including your complexion, than a good eight hours of peaceful sleep each night.

Nevertheless, make sure to avoid cold showers if you have any illnesses which they may affect, such as lung or heart problems. Otherwise, enjoy the benefits to your mood, immune system, weight and skin!

Types of Cold Showers To Try

The most effective kind of cold shower is the Spartan shower, which can be incredibly beneficial. After all, the great Spartans must have gotten their infamous fighting powers from those freezing morning showers, right?

Taking a Spartan shower is definitely not the easiest skincare routine method to complete. If you want to make this kind of shower work for your skin, you must be ready to jump into an ice cold shower and remain in it without altering the temperature. If this sounds impossible, try to focus your entire mind onto the final effect. While this sounds really difficult, the human brain is more powerful than we tend to think. Focusing on the benefits of the cold shower has the potential to almost completely do away with the unpleasant sensations we experience from the physical discomfort.

What are the benefits of the Spartan shower? The sharp levels of stress your brain will receive from it, will immediately bring about unimaginably low levels of stress for the rest of the day. Basically, prepare to be as unbeatable as the Spartans were! Your cortisol levels will be at their lowest, and the same will go for your acne.

However, one drawback of this method is that it will not cleanse your pores because it will not allow them to open up fully, even for a moment. If you opt for this method, make sure to additionally cleanse your skin with warm water and cleanser later on in the day.

If you don’t feel like having to clean your pores after taking such an extreme shower, and if you don’t feel like jumping head on into a freezing shower anyway – don’t worry. There is a solution for you, too. Just go for the James Bond shower. The James Bond shower takes its name from the James Bond novels which feature the iconic protagonist indulging in cold showers, based on alternating temperatures.

What you need to do is enter the shower with enjoyable, warm water. Just when you are starting to feel too comfortable and ready to drift into bed again, turn the tap and make the water ice cold! The idea of the James Bond shower is to keep alternating between warm and cold water, which truly tests your body’s stress limits. In the end, soak in cold water for a full minute, at which point you can exit the shower and wrap yourself up in a warm, cozy towel.

While this technique provides a slightly less beneficial effect on your mind and body – as it lets you rest between trials – it does have an additional benefit for your pores. Namely, it opens them up in the moments when the water is warm – letting them release their oil – and then it closes them back up, allowing them to remain cleansed and shut tight by the cold water.

If you’re really not feeling up for shocking your body with a sudden burst of ice cold water, you can still try to slowly and gradually change the water to a colder temperature. While this will not necessarily shock your cortisol levels, it will still provide some stress-relief. More relevantly, it will definitely still work toward opening and closing your pores, improving your blood circulation, and ultimately, relieving your acne problem.

If you do want to try jumping into ice cold water, but don’t think you will be able to bring yourself to do it, there is a method for you, too.

Simply take some time to exercise for a few minutes before going into the shower. This is particularly useful if you are opting for the Spartan shower. Doing a few sets of push-ups early in the morning will make you feel ready for any challenge – especially that of going straight into the ice cold shower. The exercise will also take your body into stress mode, making you feel like the additional stress from the shower is not so difficult to deal with.

Additional Ways To Boost Your Acne-Fighting Properties

Correct Breathing

While cold showers seem like a great idea to help fight recurring acne, another fairly easy technique you can focus on is correct breathing. While this is something so simple that you might even shrug it off as a given, you might want to take a moment and look into the way you are taking air into your system. The most beneficial way to breathe is to let the air flow through your nose, as opposed to through your mouth.

Why is this important? Allowing the oxygen to enter your body through your nose actually welcomes more of the oxygen than if you were solely breathing through your mouth. In fact, it appears that people become more attractive to others when they possess a high rate of oxygenation. Don’t forget to also breathe regularly and deeply as you go about your day.

Vitamins and Nutrients

Increasing your vitamin D intake can also work miracles for your skin. Vitamin D decreases irritation and causes an increase of antioxidants. Invest in some NatureWise Vitamin D3 or simply sit in the sun during your lunch break and soak up its rays. Additionally, up your zinc intake to counter your skin inflammation. You might also want to have some dark chocolate while you sit in the sun. This will provide the necessary flavanoid antioxidants and polyphenol to fight acne, and it will also up your blood flow rate. This happens through the increase in nitric oxide, which helps your capillaries pump blood almost twice as fast as usual.

Watermelon is also beneficial for your skin, as it provides plenty of water, in addition to giving you the necessary carotenoid antioxidants to freshen up your complexion, such as lycopene. Its citrulline content additionally works to increase your blood circulation too.

Grapeseed oil is another great supplement for fighting acne. Its vitamin E will rejuvenate your skin if applied directly to your complexion. You can also use buckthorn berry oil which reduces your natural oils by almost half. Buckthorn oil can even protect your skin against sun rays. Its antioxidants will also help your skin revive itself, especially when used in their edible form – via carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.

For an easy way to get acne-fighting vitamins and minerals into your diet, try an oral supplement. Look for one that includes Vitamin E, zinc and more anti-acne helpers like probiotics and copper, like this Probiotic Complex.

Science-Based Skincare Routine

None of these more holistic methods of fighting acne will work without a science-based skincare routine. The fact is that ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are proven to work when used effectively. The best thing about cold showers is that they are a free way to improve your skincare routine!

Base your anti-acne routine around a simple, repeatable three-step process that’s proven to work. We like the Exposed Skincare Basic Kit because it comes with all the products you need, it’s proven to get skin clearer in 30 days (and if it doesn’t work, you get your money back), and it’s made in North America with responsibly-sourced ingredients.

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Kiran K Das Reply

Damn good article. Very motivating and filled with facts.

August 3, 2018 at 4:14 am Reply