Tested: I Took a Cold Shower Every Morning for a Week
In the morning, most people take a shower with lukewarm or even hot water, me included. It relaxes, and it gives you the impression it washes better than cold water. When people find themselves taking cold showers, it's either in summer when it's very hot, or when the water heater is not working anymore. However, while taking hot showers might be more pleasant, it is not necessarily better for you. Showering in hot water has several disadvantages.
WHY AVOID HOT SHOWERS?
Lots of people tend to shower with 35 or even 40 degrees water, which is actually a bad idea. You probably know that hot water degreases more effectively than cold water. After a sports session or after a hot summer night, it is tempting to take a hot shower to get rid of excess perspiration. But that’s not always a good idea. The skin is naturally covered with a thin layer of sebum. This layer protects the skin from bacteria. It also makes it waterproof and prevents it from being too dry. When your shower is too hot, you destroy this thin layer of sebum, which makes your skin more sensitive to external aggressions such as bacteria or cold. In addition, a lack of sebum will tend to dry out the epidermis, so your skin even risks cracking, especially in winter. This also applies to your hair. If you use too hot water, your hair will be dry, stiff and brittle, and your scalp will be dry. To compensate, your scalp may secrete an excess of sebum and your hair will get greasy much faster. If your skin and hair are too dry or too oily, it may not be because of the way you eat or pollution, it is probably because your showers are too hot.
WHY COLD SHOWERS?
Taking cold showers has several advantages. First of all, for your skin and hair. Cold water tightens the pores of the skin and makes the hair smoother and shinier. By using cold water rather than hot water, you avoid drying out your skin and hair, and you allow them to keep their elasticity. You also avoid destroying the thin layer of sebum that protects the skin. In winter, taking cold showers can help make your skin more resistant to the cold. Secondly, cold water will improve your blood circulation. When your body gets this cold, it compensates by increasing the blood flow to the parts exposed to the cold in order to keep them their internal temperature constant. Moreover, cold water would allow faster muscle recovery after sport. Finally, cold water would have antidepressant effects. In fall and winter, it is tempting to take warmer showers than usual. But in fact, it's better to do the opposite and take cold showers. Your skin and your immune system will be stronger.
THE WIM HOF METHOD
Every year, all over Europe, on January 1st, there are people who take a New Year's bath ... in (ice-)cold water. Some do it in frozen lakes, others in the sea, and so on. But there are other people who do this much more often, some consider it a way of life and a way to harden their body. The most famous of them is undoubtedly Wim Hof, a Dutchman known for his crazy records ... In 2002 he swam freediving under the ice. In January 2007, he ran a half-marathon barefoot and in shorts. In 2011, he stayed 1h52 in the ice, breaking his own previous records. He even climbed Mont-Blanc and Everest in shorts (but with shoes this time) and did many more crazy things!
You may think Wim Hof is superhuman. According to him, the human body is more resistant than we think, but people forget because they are too used to modern comfort. According to Wim Hof, with training and a lot of willpower, anyone can improve their resistance to the cold. He even developed a method which bears his name and which has been gaining more and more followers for years. A few times a year, Wim Hof organizes cold exposure courses so that volunteers can test his method with him and push their limits a little further.
By doing things that seem superhuman, Wim Hof ended up interesting some doctors and scientists. Dutch researchers studied volunteers who followed his method and others who didn’t. The researchers injected bacteria into these people: those who had trained with Wim Hof displayed a better immune response than the others.
Today, Wim Hof is world-famous. He regularly organizes cold acclimatization courses for people who want to test his method with him and go beyond their limits. He even wrote a book to talk about his experience: Becoming the Iceman.
There are multiple methods possible to do this method in your own shower. You can either directly start with cold water, preferably by wetting the face and neck first. You could also quickly alternate between hot and cold water. Or, you can start with warm or lukewarm water and gradually decrease the water temperature. Try different methods, and choose the one that works best for you. Be careful though: if you are not used to taking cold showers or if you have heart problems, do it gradually. Also, remember to control your breathing. A few tens of seconds before going under cold water, take a deep breath to relax and oxygenate your body. Continue once you are under cold water. Do not back up or turn on the hot water after a few seconds, let your body adjust to the cold water. After a few tens of seconds, you will start to shake less and find the cold water less unpleasant. You can now soap and shampoo if you haven't already. Otherwise, you can rinse off ... with cold water of course. Thanks to this cold shower, you will feel awake and full of energy to start the day! Your showers will probably be shorter and you’ll save some time, hot water and money, another benefit to start your day with a cold shower!
Day 1: I was so glad I didn’t have to wash my hair. The shower was very quick and cold but it definitely woke me up. I started doing the most brutal method where you immediately start with a very cold shower.
Day2: Did the same method as day 1 and this time I loved it! I was pumped up to start the day.
Day 3: Sooo hard to get into the shower but my body felt fully wake. I also started noticing the benefits for my skin. I used to have quite dried out skin because of the hot water, but here my skin started glowing.
Day 4: Had to wash my hair, and to be honest, I found it not humane! I decided to start out with a cold shower of about 30seconds, switch over to a hotter shower in order to wash my hair and end with another 30-second cold shower.
Day 5: My energy is up and my skin is absolutely loving it!
Day 6: I had to wake up quite early and I felt like the earlier you have to wake up, the harder it is. But, I’m still loving it.
Day 7: I’m still loving it, but I feel like alternating between hot and cold is more bearable. I will probably continue doing this in the future.
The benefits of having a cold shower are undeniable. I have, myself, felt them without even reading about the benefits beforehand. I would recommend everyone to do it, you’ll thank me later.