The Effects of Water Temperature - Part 1: Skin

Let’s start off by debunking a very popular myth: the pores of your skin do not open or close according to the temperature of the water you are using. Pores can seem bigger due to the fact that hot water may make the skin swell, but they are not actually more “open”. However, the temperature of water does have an effect on your skin!

Although hot water may feel good on your skin, it can damage your skin by stripping away all of its natural oil and moisture. This is obviously very bad for dry and sensitive skin but it is also surprisingly bad for oily skin. Stripping the skin of all its moisture/oil will result in oilier skin because your sebaceous glands (glands in the skin that secrete sebum) will secrete more sebum to compensate. So although hot water might make oily skin feel very clean right after washing it, the results do not last. On a more positive note, hot water clears out clogged pores by softening the sebum, makeup, and dirt that has hardened. Also, the hot water can kill the bacteria that are causing acne breakouts.

So we have determined that hot water is bad for you skin, how about the opposite temperature? Cold water is very refreshing but it will not cleanse your face as effectively as warmer water. For me, the simplest way to understand this was by comparing the water temperature used while washing greasy/buttery dishes. Even with the use of dish soap, the cold water was not able to wash away the buttery residue. In fact, the cold water hardened the butter that was previously softened and warm. Now imagine how this translates to your skincare routine! The cold water can harden the sebum in your pores instead which will not give you clean skin.  However, splashing your face with cold water is a great thing to do once you have finished washing it. The cold water will reduce the swelling that warm/hot water could have caused, thus tightening your skin.

Now that we have ruled out hot and cold water, we are left with warm and lukewarm water. These are your best bets for clean healthy skin! This temperature softens the sebum and allows you to clean out your pores without damaging your skin while maintaining your skin’s natural balance.