Are cold showers really that good for you?
A freezing cold shower isn’t the most welcoming sight first thing in the morning. But, if somebody told you that stepping into what is essentially an ice cave could be the key to glowing skin, glossy hair, boosted energy and even an improved immune system, you might see it differently.
I decided to find out for myself. I committed to a month of cold showers, all in the name of research, to decide if they are really all they’re cracked up to be.
The main benefit of having ice cold water pelted at your face is that it’s surprisingly good for your skin. Heat strips away the natural oils your skin produces, leaving it dry. That’s why our skin hates us during winter time when our radiators are on full-blast.
From day one, I noticed a difference to my skin. It felt tighter and my pores were smaller. Don’t be fooled, though. Your pores appearing smaller is only temporary while your blood vessels are constricted because of the cold water. Splashing cold water on your face each morning and evening has the same benefits and less of the shivering.
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If you live or work in a place with high levels of pollution, throwing some cold water on your face can be really beneficial. It stops the pollutants in the air absorbing into your skin so quickly.
Washing your hair with warm water is great. It opens up the hair follicles and helps the shampoo and conditioner give an even deeper cleanse. If you finish your hair wash off with a blast of cold water, it locks in the moisture by constricting the hair follicles. I manage to get an extra day out of my hair before it needs washing, which let’s face it, is all we really want from life.
Cold showers and ice baths are very popular amongst sportsmen and women. They’re a great (albeit cold) way to aid recovery, especially if you’re training for a marathon or a sporting event which calls for more regular and structured exercise.
I went for a run and then had a cold shower. Which, to sum up, is my nightmare. I didn’t notice any difference in recovery, apart from feeling particularly miserable a minute into the shower and deciding to have a nice hot bath, instead.
You can’t fight the facts, though. Cold showers are great for recovery, but perhaps they’re more suited to more serious exercisers and not those of us who run around the park and stop every 1-2 minutes to get an Instagram picture of the view.
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Cold showers are said to bolster your immune system because they increase circulation. This helps your body to repair itself quicker because it encourages the production of immune cells.
I did have a cold during my experiment and I absolutely did not have a cold shower. I had every intention, but when I got to the bathroom I decided to go back to bed, instead. Do I regret my decision? No, no I do not.
If you are a stronger human than I, cold showers are proven to destroy the toxins making a home in your body.
The main reason I wanted to give this a go is because of how great cold showers are meant to be for productivity. When you’re feeling a bit sluggish, they’re said to revitalise you.
The cold water increases blood flow to your organs which increases your oxygen intake and adrenaline release. This combination gives you an incredible boost of energy not dissimilar to the energy you might get from caffeine.
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The sweet spot? Instead of having daily cold showers, just switch to cold for the last 30 seconds of your shower. It has the same effect with less of misery. My hair, skin and mood have certainly improved as a result!