Hot And Cold Shower Comparison
For many, the idea of a freezing cold shower first thing in the morning is enough to make you shudder, never mind the reality of actually taking one. A hot shower early doors provides the majority of people with the perfect means to kick off their day, and an ideal foundation from which to go about their daily business.
As much as we might love to invigorate our senses with a toasty warm shower, and be far from thrilled at the prospect of a cold shower though, there is plenty of evidence to suggest it is beneficial to mix up our shower routine as it pertains to temperature.
Even if you have horror memories of nipping in and quickly hopping in a cold shower, having been the last in a busy family household to use it, you might not so readily recall how you felt in the aftermath. Or be aware of the numerous health advantages cold showers can provide.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the associated benefits of both hot and cold showers, exploring the best instances to brave the lower temperatures and much more.
What Are The Main Advantages Of Cold Showers?
There are several advantages to taking a cold shower, including the following…
- Invigorating and refreshing to awaken your senses
- Helpful in tackling acne, can assist with glowing hair and skin
- Relieves itchy skin
- Bolsters blood circulation
- Can enhance weight loss
- Assists in alleviating muscle soreness after exercise
Cold Shower Wake Up Call
Whilst you may find the sensation unpleasant, a cold early morning shower can have positive physiological, psychological and neurological effects as the temperature ‘shock’ takes hold.
This cold water shock enhances the heart rate, oxygen intake and level of alertness of the shower user, all in all providing a real ‘livener’ to make them feel incredibly refreshed, switched on and ready to attack the day ahead.
Jump in your shower enclosure feeling groggy and unprepared, exit a brand new man or woman that can take on just about anything!
Help Hair And Skin To Shine
Whilst scant scientific evidence exists with regards to the positive effects cold water can have on hair and skin, anecdotal attestation is widely abound.
All sorts of wellness publications and expert sources have long been keen to extoll the virtues of cold water, with its propensity to constrict blood flow a certified consequence. This practice is explained well in this Camille Styles blog. In turn, the constriction of blood assists in giving a healthier tint to the cold showerer’s skin.
Furthermore, a Glamour magazine article suggests that cold water will strengthen your hair cuticles, and as a result, that taking regular cold showers will lead hair to be shinier and significantly less frizzy.
It is also worth noting that in contrast to hot water, cold water will not dry out the sebum layer, which is a naturally formed lubricated barrier which acts as a protective shield for hair and skin. Therefore, frequent exposure to cold water can see hair in particular build strength and general health over the course of time.
Shivering Over Scratching
Neither are exactly favourable sensations, of course. But cold showers can prove an excellent combative measure for those who suffer from itchy skin or related conditions that leave them feeling the urge to scratch.
Stacy Chimento, an American-based dermatology expert, has been quoted by The Healthy as saying, “cool water can help calm down the itchy sensation.” She continued, “cool water helps numb the itching sensations and pacify irritated skin, whereas a hot shower can make the skin even more sensitive.”
So, especially for sufferers of conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, cold showers could be monumentally beneficial.
Boosting Your Blood Flow
As far as health benefits associated with cold showers go, one of the very most poignant is enhanced blood circulation, regularly flagged up by expert health commentators.
The science behind this effect can be explained in how it influences the body at surface level. Basically, once the cold water makes contact with the body, noticeably concerning areas like arms and legs, it will compress blood circulation on the body’s surface.
In turn, the blood pumping throughout deeper tissues will circulate at a more rapid rate to deliver and maintain an optimal body temperature for cold shower users.
That considered, cold showers provide a contrasting reaction to hot showers for those who might be suffering from cardiovascular issues or hypertension. Because cold temperature exposure activates the circulatory system to alleviate inflammation and help to combat cardiovascular diseases.
Cold Shower Weight Loss Assistance
It might not make a massive amount of difference, but speaking from personal experience at least, every little helps when it comes to a bid for losing weight. So this makes for another excellent reason to work a cold shower into your regular routine.
The way that cold water can benefit you from a weight loss perspective lies in the properties of particular fat cells. The likes of brown fat, for instance, can generate heat in burning fat. This occurs when the body becomes exposed to colder temperatures, as it would in a cold shower.
What’s more, these brown fat cells are often found around the shoulders and neck area of the body. Absolutely ideal, especially if you have a modern bathroom shower with multiple outlets for targeted coverage.
On average, a 15-minute cold shower will burn 62 calories – that’s worth a full extra Jaffa Cake and then some to the calorie counting dieters!
Sore Muscle Relief
Tying in with the weight loss theme, cold showers can also aid sore muscle recovery in the aftermath of exercise – a perfect vice to remember after an especially tough session at the gym.
Cold water boasts regenerative properties, which allows it to enable your muscles to relax and repair on the back of strenuous activity.
Are There Any Disadvantages To Cold Showers?
They are few and far between, certainly so when compared with the benefits, but cold showers can be disadvantageous in some instances.
Mostly, common sense will dictate when not to indulge in a cold shower. For example, if you are already cold, the cooler temperature won’t help you to warm up in any way. In fact, it can have a negative effect in making you become colder still, and ensuring you have a longer wait for your body to warm back up to its ideal temperature.
Similarly so, it is probably best to avoid taking a cold shower if you are feeling unwell. The initial shock of the cold water could have a further detrimental effect on your immune system.
It’s a better idea to ease into cooler showers when you’re in rude health.
Why Do We Tend To Prefer Hot Showers?
So, given the many benefits and scarce drawbacks associated with cold showers, they seem a no-brainer to introduce into a healthy regular schedule.
Why then, in general, do we prefer hot showers?
Well, for a start, the warm water tends to feel nicer and more relaxing as we come into contact with it, rather than causing the initial shock effect that comes to fruition when taking a cold shower.
For many, a hot shower is a key to relaxation, and enables the person to unwind and de-stress before heading to bed and preparing to do it all again tomorrow.
There’s a science behind that notion as well, as hot showers alert the parasympathetic nervous system which is linked to making us tired, making a warm shower an excellent evening practice before bed.
As well as assisting in the relaxation of muscles, hot showers can also help repair skin blemishes and aid in the relief of respiratory problems.
On the latter point, standing in a hot shower enclosure engulfed by steam represents a time-old natural combative effort against colds and coughs. The water’s heat and accompanying steam can help to clear nasal passages, open up airways and loosen phlegm.
And with regards to skin blemishes, hot showers can help to open up the pores of the skin, so you’re able to rid them of any lingering oil or trapped muck.
Are There Any Disadvantages To Hot Showers?
Whilst cold showers have been proven to be beneficial from a cardiovascular perspective, hot showers can contrastingly worsen issues in this regard.
They have been known to further enhance the blood pressure of sufferers of high blood pressure, and those with any form of cardiovascular disease are also advised against taking showers that are too hot.
Also, hot showers can lead to irritable, dried out skin. Hot water can damage the keratin cells which reside on the outer-most skin layer – the epidermis. In turn, the disruption caused to these cells curtails them from confining the appropriate moisture required, which creates dry skin.
And particular skin conditions can worsen via excessively hot showers as well. Ailments like eczema and psoriasis can be exacerbated with high temperatures providing the perfect foundation for skin to dry out.
Itchy skin is another potential undesirable side effect of hot showers too, as the lofty temperatures can lead mast cells, featuring histamine, to deposit their matter in the skin to cause it to itch.
Should I Take Hot Or Cold Showers?
There’s numerous benefits and a few disadvantages to both hot and cold showers – so which type should you indulge in with regularity?
Well, whilst the advantages of cold showers seem to outweigh those of their counterparts, we wouldn’t want you to have to stand and suffer if you find a cold shower barely tolerable. Ideally then, you should try to take a lukewarm shower when possible, so you’re getting the best benefits of both whilst enjoying a comfortable showering experience.
Alternatively, you could adopt a ‘contrast shower’ approach, whereby you set the water temperature for as cold as possible for a set period of time, say a minute. Then, you can crank the temperature right up and take a hot shower for a minute, and repeat the process for as long as you wish (between three and five cycles each is recommended).
Contrast showers are advantageous in that the cold shower part of the process will constrict the blood vessels of the user, meaning all the blood will flood to the centre of the body.
Then, the hot shower portion will see the blood vessels open up and blood flood out again, distributed all throughout the organs and muscles of the ‘contrast showerer’. As such, it has an excellent detoxifying effect, and helps with regeneration too.
Some advanced digital showers will even have the facility to set the temperature to automatically shift after a set amount of time to make the contrast shower process more convenient. Our Buyer’s Guide To Modern Showers has more information on these tech-savvy shower systems.
Get In Touch With Big Bathroom Shop
Hopefully, this blog has helped you gain an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of both hot and cold showers, and how best to work either type into your regular showering routine.
For any further help or information regarding showers, or any other bathroom-related query though, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the friendly team at Big Bathroom Shop.
John has a background in sports journalism, and lists content writing amongst his primary passions. He provides expert bathroom trends commentary and analysis, as well as offering meticulously researched answers to the most frequently asked bathroom posers.