Myth Busted! Should You Wash Your Face With Cold Water?

Myth Busted! Should You Wash Your Face With Cold Water? I Mirra Skincare

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Skincare 101 calls for daily face washing. With something so frequent and crucial to our routine, knowing the best method might give you a little more peace of mind that you are “adulting” correctly. Put simply, washing your face functions to remove daily accumulations of dirt, debris, and germs. When done correctly, face washing leaves the skin clean and revitalized. Questions that come to mind when we think of washing our faces are how often should wash your face, which products should you use, and should your wash your face with cold water....lukewarm? hot?? some combination???


1. Face Washing Basics

2. Hot Water

3. Cold Water

4. Final Thoughts

Key Points

  • Do not use hot water to wash your face
  • A simple face washing routine will keep your skin clean and healthy
  • Lukewarm water is typically the best choice 

Face Washing Basics

This article will examine whether you should wash your face with cold water and give you some expert face washing tips. The American Academy of Dematology Association (AAD) recommends using lukewarm water throughout their face washing 101 tutorial and limiting it to twice a day: once in the morning to remove oils and dirt that stick to blankets, sheets, and pillowcases, and once at night to clean all the debris from the outside world.

Additional washing after heavy sweating may be beneficial, but it is important to remember that overwashing your face, even when done correctly, can dry out and damage the skin.

The basic steps to proper face washing:

1. Wet face with lukewarm water.

2. Apply a cleanser with your fingertips, and massage evenly over the face. Your cleanser should be gentle, non-abrasive and alcohol free. 

Via Giphy

 *Avoid the urge to scrape your skin, since doing so irritates and often causing blemishes to appear redder. If you are experiencing sensitive skin, avoid using anything other than your fingertips, such as fingernails, washcloth, or mesh sponge. 

3. Rinse with lukewarm water

4. Pat dry with a soft towel

5. Apply moisturizer. If you are in need of extra moisture, and need some tips on where to start, check out this simple ingredient-driven 3-step moisturizing routine

For exfoliation: Keep to a minimum to avoid damaging skin. Once a week should be sufficient. 

Hot Water

So why the lukewarm water? Well, let's first examine hot water. Contrary to common assumptions, hotter water does not clean better. Your face is not a saucepan.

Via Giphy

When you use hot water to wash your face, you potentially dissolve the oil barrier, a crucial component of your skin's natural protection system. The hotter your water, the greater chance that you are of removing the oil barrier that provides your skin with balance, protection, and moisture.

Although it could take away from the enjoyment of the moment, lukewarm water will prevent skin irritation. As a hot water lover, I feel it is important to note there are also positive psychological benefits documented from using warm/hot water for washing and bathing. 

Cold Water

Since hot water is not ideal, should you wash your face with cold water? Cold water does the opposite of hot water: shocking. Instead of dissolving, cold water may may cause oil to build up, trap debris, and make it harder for your moisturizing products to penetrate your skin.

Cold water doesn't come with all cons. It increases blood flow and shrinks the appearance of pores resulting in a brighter, firmer complexion. With this in mind, the best approach may be to use lukewarm water through cleansing and then rinse a second time with cold water. 

While using cold water for face washing is questionable, there are many known benefits to cold water exposure or cold showers, including: improved immunity, and pain management, improved respiratory function, anxiety relief, and more.

Via Giphy

An interesting point about this data is that a cold shower is defined subjectively as each individual's idea of “cold,” not a specific temperature. If you are curious about integrating cold water exposure into your routine, try 30 seconds, then 60, then 90, etc.

Cold water therapy has been used for centuries for its ability to enhance overall wellbeing and may be worth considering. However, some should be more careful about frequent cold showers. This includes those with compromised immune systems and those who have heart conditions such as congestive heart failure. This is because the rapid fluctuations in heart rate and body temperature might be too much for the body to handle.

Final Thoughts

Lukewarm water is the perfect middle ground temperature to wash your face with for multiple reasons. Though when it comes to your shower, cold might be the more beneficial option.

Ultimately, your water temperature is up to you. Aside from the temp, keeping a simple, regular skincare routine will keep your skin healthy and looking its best. Before attempting anything new or unusual, go to your dermatologist if you have any questions or concerns regarding face washing. 

Written by Kiana St. Onge

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  1. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/care/face-washing-101
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8778033/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6011066/

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