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  5. Hot Or Cold Water - Which Is Better For Your Hair Wash?

Have you ever paid attention to the temperature of the water you use for your hair wash? Yes, it does affect the quality of your hair!

Besides the shampoo you use and the frequency of your hair wash, your choice of hot or cold water plays an active role in maintaining your hair’s strength and volume. So, which is better for your hair wash?

Read on to find out what is the ideal temperature for your hair wash as per Ayurveda, and the benefits of using hot and cold water.

How Does Water Temperature Affect Your Hair Structure?

Your hair structure [1] can be categorized as the root (the living part on your scalp) and shaft (the non-living hair strands). When the hair roots come in contact with water at a higher temperature, the pores of your hair follicles expand and open up naturally. On the contrary, cold water causes contraction of pores and keeps them tightly locked up. This, in turn, reduces your hair fall by increasing the grip of your hair follicles on your hair shaft.

When your hair shaft comes in contact with hot water, the high temperature breaks the keratin and lipid bonds [2] on your hair cuticles (the outermost protective layer of the hair shaft). This ruptures the cuticle layers, making them stand up. On the other hand, cold water seals the ruptured cuticle layers while restoring the keratin and lipid bonds.

damaged ragged hair and normal smooth hairs

“Although you may fundamentally find cold water a better choice to wash your hair, there are also scenarios where hot water comes in handy while using cold water acts as a drawback for washing your hair,” says Dr. Zeel, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

What Does Cold Water Do To Your Hair?

Benefits Of Cold Water

1. Preserves Natural Oils

Washing your hair with cold water helps to retain natural oils and sebum in your hair. This keeps your scalp and hair hydrated. Sebum acts as a barrier layer that protects your scalp from environmental and oxidative damage.

2. Imparts Smooth And Shiny Texture

Cold water helps to seal the elevated cuticle layers in your hair and keeps the protein bonds of your hair intact. This heals the frizziness of your hair shaft and gives it a well-defined, soft, and smooth texture. Also, the sealed cuticles add a glossy look to your hair by locking in the moisture.

3. Helps To Maintain A Clean Scalp

Open scalp pores are more likely to accumulate dirt, toxic pollutants [3], sweat, oil, and grease in your hair follicles. Washing your scalp with cold water closes the pores and maintains your scalp’s hygiene.

4. Improves Scalp Blood Circulation

When you wash your hair with cold water, your blood capillaries open wider and there is free flow of blood to your scalp. Through this, your hair roots receive all the essential nutrients from the blood, resulting in healthy hair growth.

Disadvantages Of Cold Water

1. Reduces Hair Volume

When washed with cold water, there are chances that your enclosed hair cuticles lock in excessive moisture. This may weigh down your hair and make it flat. Also, the moisture increases the binding of your hair strands, resulting in decrease of hair volume overall. This could be a concern for people with thin hair.

2. Makes Hair Washing Uncomfortable

Washing hair with water at lower temperatures can be troublesome as it may give you chills, especially during the winter season.

What Does Hot Water Do To Your Hair?

Benefits Of Hot Water

1. Clears Scalp Buildup Effectively

Hot water is more effective than cold water to dissolve dirt, grime, product buildup, and any other forms of scalp buildups. Washing hair with hot water opens up your scalp pores and enables your shampoo to unclog your hair follicles efficiently.

scalp layer with before and after dirt

Disadvantages Of Hot Water

1. Increases Dryness And Frizz

Besides the accumulated scalp build-ups, hot water may strip off the essential natural oils from your scalp, causing extreme dryness. Also ,if you wash your hair with hot water, the elevated hair cuticles let the moisture escape from your hair strands, resulting in frizzy hair. Eventually, this may lead to dry dandruff and hair fall.

2. Weakens Hair Roots

The opened up pores due to hot water expose your hair follicles to environmental and oxidative damage [4]. Your hair fall accelerates due to the loosened grip of your damaged hair roots. Also, this may result in premature graying.

3. Promotes Hair Breakage

Hot water hair wash makes your hair overly porous [5], which in turn increases the dehydration in your hair. This makes your hair brittle and eventually results in breakage and split ends.

4. Cause Inflammation Of Scalp Tissues

The high temperature of the water can damage your scalp tissues and may cause irritation and inflammation in your hair roots. This hinders the absorption of nutrients and oxygen from the blood into your hair follicles, leading to hair fall and hair loss.

Which Water Is Good For Hair Washing As Per Ayurveda - Hot Or Cold?

Before understanding what is the right temperature of water to wash your hair, it is important to determine your hair type as per Ayurveda.

1. Vata Hair Type

As Vata hair type tends to have fine hair with higher porosity and lower moisture content, people with Vata dominating Prakriti should never wash hair using hot water. To prevent the loss of hair volume caused by cold water, people with Vata hair type can opt to wash their hair with lukewarm water and strike a balance.

Fine hair (Vata hair type) has around 50% less protein than hair with a medium and coarse thickness (Pitta and Kapha hair types).

2. Pitta Hair Type 

People with Pitta Prakriti and hair type are more sensitive to high temperature. Washing their hair with hot water will rapidly lead to scalp irritation, inflammation, and premature greying. Hence, they need to avoid hot water for hair cleansing. Coldwater hair wash is best for Pitta hair type. But, if they feel unpleasant using cold water, they can choose lukewarm water for hair wash.

3. Kapha Hair Type

Kapha hair type tends to produce more sebum compared to other hair types. This may encourage different types of scalp buildups which need deeper cleansing compared to other hair types. Hence, water with a slightly warmer temperature can be the right choice for people with Kapha Hair type. But, they need to ensure that the water is not too hot to damage their scalp and hair tissues. Lukewarm water is well-suited for Kapha hair type.

What Is The Right Temperature Of Water To Wash Your Hair?

In general, you can use water at 100°F or 38°C (slightly above the normal body temperature) to wash your hair. During summer, you can use water with a lower temperature.

“After shampooing and cleaning with lukewarm water, it is better to give a final rinse using cold water at a suitable temperature. This will help in locking the open pores and elevated cuticles,” says Dr. Zeel.

Vedix Tip: To check the temperature of the water for your hair wash, place your elbow in the stream. If you do not have any unpleasant sensation due to the coldness or hotness, then it is the right temperature to wash your hair.

The Last Word

Besides choosing the right temperature of water to wash your hair, it takes a holistic hair care routine to maintain good hair and scalp health. Regular oiling with dosha balancing herbal oils followed by gentle hair cleansing with herbal shampoo is what Ayurveda believes to be the foundation of your strong and healthy hair growth. At Vedix, we customize an Ayurvedic hair care regimen that resolves your unique hair problems by balancing your doshas.

Know Your Dosha Now