For most of us, a cold shower only happens when we’re last in line for the bathroom or our S.O. “accidentally” flushes while we’re in there. (In the words of Stephanie Tanner, “How rude!”) But it turns out the hot water hogs in your life may be doing you a serious favor: When it comes to body-boosting benefits, experts suggest cold showers are where it’s at.
To reap the potential rewards of a cold shower regime, Halse recommends a water temp of 60 degrees or under, which is the equivalent to very cold pool water. Start out using as cold a temperature as you can stand, says Schultz, and gradually adjust the temp so it’s a little cooler each time you hop in.
Here are just some of the perks chilling out can provide.
Brightens Your Mood
“Hydrotherapy with cold water can increase beta-endorphin and noradrenaline levels in the blood, as well as noradrenaline levels in the brain, which may in turn have an anti-depressant effect on mood,” says Sheenie Ambardar, M.D., a Beverly Hills-based psychiatrist. A study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses found that taking two to three minute cold showers on the reg (like, 68-degrees cold) over a two-week period boosted the moods of their participants.
Soothes Sore Muscles
Cold showers can help you recover from a hardcore workout by reducing soreness and inflammation, says Henry Halse, a Philadelphia-based certified strength and conditioning specialist. If there’s a particular muscle giving you ‘tude, Halse suggests focusing the shower water directly on the area for as close to five minutes as you can. “The increased blood flow to the area can help repair damaged muscle or other tissue because your blood contains the nutrients that heal,” he says.
Improves Your Skin
The best way to score beauty benefits from a cold shower is to first cleanse with warm water, and then shift to a cooler temperature, says Neal Schultz, M.D., a New York City dermatologist, host of DermTV.com, and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz. The cold can help tighten your skin and pores, put the kibosh on unwanted redness, and reduce puffiness below your eyes. Not only will your skin look smoother and brighter, but your makeup will go on like buttah.
Makes Hair Shinier
The cuticle of hair shafts can be dried out more by warm water, leaving your tresses looking…well, blah, says Julia Tzu, founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology. A shot of cold water post-conditioner can make your hair appear shinier and smoother by flattening your hair follicles and locking in moisture.
Helps Combat Stress
Cold water to the face may help with relaxation by slowing the heart and in fact has been studied to treat abnormally fast heart rates, says Tzu. Another study found that participants who swam in ice-cold water on the regular showed an increased tolerance to stress—all thanks to their bodies adapting to the repeat exposure.
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By Krissy Brady