Can Your Cold Shower Alleviate Your Acne?
Have you already heard of the miracles that bathing in cold water can do for you? While it is admittedly far less pleasant to take a bath with cold water than to soak in warm water, a cold shower can have an incredibly rejuvenating effect on your entire being. It replenishes your immune system, it can have a calming effect on your mind and it can greatly improve the state of your skin. In fact, cold water can not only generally improve your complexion, but it can relieve even the most severe kind of acne.
The Success Story That Could Become Yours
Picture this – you have acne and have been struggling with it for years. Even the most well reviewed products have not managed to even slightly improve your condition. Instead of getting better, it may even seem to be getting worse. You are growing desperate and there is no solution in sight. Even natural products do not seem to help, no matter how much tea tree oil you rub into your skin. You are thinking of giving up at this point and just making peace with your consistent breakouts. But then it gets worse. You begin to notice acne creeping up onto your chest and back. You may begin to wonder what you have done to deserve this, and whether or not a visit to a spiritual medium with magic powers may be the only cure for you.
And then it finally happens. You see a light at the end of the tunnel. One day while you are leafing through a beauty magazine you land on the simplest yet possibly the most effective of cures – a cold shower. Could it be? 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.
Now you begin to wonder – should I be giving this a try? Granted, it sounds pretty uncomfortable, to say the least. Maybe you try doing some research and you find out that showering with cold water is a method that has been used seemingly since the beginning of time with the goal of improving everything between moods1 and blood circulation. Even nowadays, the Finns make frequent use of the technique to maintain their glowing, fresh skin amid the freezing Finnish air.
Eventually, you decide to try it out for yourself. After all, it couldn’t hurt, right? What are five minutes of cold water per day, when compared to smooth, painless skin? You begin the treatment. For the duration of two months you take cold showers, training your will-power and testing its limits on a daily basis. It is probably almost unbearable at first, but soon it becomes just another habit. The best part? You start to see results. Your skin begins to clear up. Old scars begin to look like they are disintegrating, while new pimples become less and less frequent.
After a couple months, you decide to analyze the results. Was it really the cold water that cleared up your skin when nothing else would? After a review of your lifestyle choices over the past dozen of weeks, you realize that it indeed must have been the change of water temperature (you did not make any dietary changes, you did not begin a brand new store-bought treatment, etc.) Not only did your zits and scars disappear, but the overall quality of your skin improved – you may notice a smoother complexion, a healthier tone, a generally glowing, fresh-looking skin on your face, chest and back.
The moral of the story? This could be you! Indeed, people all over the globe are reporting wonderful changes in the condition of their skin after just weeks of showering with cold water. If this success story sounds like something you want to be able to share with your friends over a glass of wine at dinner in a few months, keep reading.
What Are The Actual Benefits Of Cold Showers Into Your Skin?
Why do cold showers actually work? As mentioned, many anti-acne advice columns preach the benefits of warm showers. Indeed, they are meant to unclog your pores2 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 not only decrease the sebum in your skin, but they can completely rid you even of the 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, but they 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 hence 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 respectively 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 in no way stimulate your sebum production, as the pores remain relatively 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. Cold showers thus also help with the peeling of dry skin, as your skin remains mostly intact when hydrated with cold water.
Not only does cold water decrease acne in particular, but it also generally replenishes your complexion. It 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 benefits. Bathing in cold water3 reduces stress, and brings about good mood and positive feelings. Why is that? Taking a cold shower in the morning makes you feel incredibly accomplished. After all, the first thing you did on that given day was to face your fear of freezing temperatures and use your will-power 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?
Coming back to acne, reduced levels of stress directly equal less acne4. 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 up 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 per 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!
How Can You Make The Most Out Of Your Cold Showers?
The most effective kind of cold shower is the Spartan shower. You may have already heard of this method – perhaps not in the most positive light. Still, contrary to popular belief, Spartan showers are 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 put your mind to making this kind of shower work for your skin, you must be ready to jump into an ice cold shower and remain in it without alternating the temperature. If this sounds impossible to you, 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 get 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 and infallible as were the Spartans! Because of this, your cortisol levels will be at their lowest, and the same will go for your acne. One drawback of this method is that it will not cleanse your pores because it will not allow them to open up 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 up your pores after taking such an extreme shower, and more importantly, if you do not feel like jumping head on into a freezing shower – fret not. There is a solution for you, too. Just go for the James Bond shower. Granted, James Bond seems like a slightly more fallible character in comparison to the Spartans, but he is certainly equally healthy, resilient and generally unstoppable. 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 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 bath and wrap yourself in a warm, cozy towel.
While this technique provides a slightly less beneficial effect onto 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, upon which it closes them back up, allowing them to remain cleansed and shut tightly by the cold water.
If you are 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 circulation5, and ultimately – relieving your acne problem.
If you do want to try jumping into ice cold water, but do not necessarily 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 bath. 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.
Some Additional Techniques To Boost Your Acne-Fighting Properties
While cold showers seem to be irreplaceable in the fight with 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 do this is to let the air flow through your nose6, 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.
Increasing your vitamin D intake can also work miracles for your skin. Vitamin D does move away irritation and it 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 needed 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 faster than usual.
Watermelon is also beneficial for your skin, as it provides plenty of water, in addition to giving you the necessary carotenoid antioxidants7 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 skin8, 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.
All of the listed methods have the potential to provide excellent care for your skin, while fighting off acne. But the best thing about cold showers, in particular, is that you don’t need to spend a single penny in order to enjoy their beneficial effects on your complexion!
- Shevchuk N.A. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Medical Hypotheses. 2008;70(5):995-1001.
- Skin care for acne-prone skin. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). 2013.
- Huttunen P., Kokko L., Ylijukuri V. Winter swimming improves general well-being. International Journal of Circumpolar Health. 2004;63(2):140-4.
- Jović A., Marinović B., Kostović K., Čeović R., Basta-Juzbašić A., Bukvić Mokos Z. The Impact of Psychological Stress on Acne. Acta Dermatovenerologica Croatica. 2017;25(2):1133-141.
- Mooventhan A., Nivethitha L. Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body. North American Journal of Medical Sciences. 2014;6(5):199–209.
- Morton A.R., King K., Papalia S., Goodman C., Turley K.R., Wilmore J.H. Comparison of maximal oxygen consumption with oral and nasal breathing. Australian Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 1995;27(3):51-5.
- Edwards A.J., Vinyard B.T., Wiley E.R., Brown E.D., Collins J.K., Perkins-Veazie P., Baker R.A., Clevidence B.A. Consumption of watermelon juice increases plasma concentrations of lycopene and beta-carotene in humans. The Journal of Nutrition. 2003;133(4):1043-50.
- Garavaglia J., Markoski M.M., Oliveira A., Marcadenti A. Grape Seed Oil Compounds: Biological and Chemical Actions for Health. Nutrition and Metabolic Insights. 2016;9:59–64.
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