The temperature of the water used when shaving can make a great difference. I will share the expert opinion and discuss the pros/cons of using hot or cold water when shaving.
Do you need to use hot or cold water when shaving?
You should use hot water before shaving as this makes hairs stand up and makes shaving easier, it also opens up your pores. Only when you have a sensitive skin cold water is a good option, as people report that it gives less skin irritation and razor burns. After shaving you can use cold water.
This short answer is good for only those who are in a hurry. Scroll on to learn the detailed differences that the use of hot or cold water can make
- Benefits of using cold water when shaving
- Don’t use cold water for shaving if:
- Benefits of using hot water when shaving:
- Cons of using hot water when shaving
- Is it good to shave with hard water?
- What do experts say about hot or cold water shaving
- Why choose cold water for shaving
Benefits of using cold water when shaving
Shaving with cold or hot water is not an easy race. Both have cons and pros. Even do we would go for hot water, there are several reasons why cold can be a good choice as well:
1. Helps your blade last longer:
The cold water will cause the molecules of your blade to contract, extending its lifespan and giving it a much better edge. It will help you shave at least eight times when you are using cold water with it. On the other hand, the hot water rinses the blade and causes its molecules to expand, making it dull much faster, just after five shaves.
2. Improves your blood circulation and immunity:
When you shave with cold water, your blood vessels constrict, and the blood circulation focuses more on your vital organs. The cold water causes the blood to move towards the organs to keep them warm. While the hot water reverses the effect by causing your blood to move to the surface of your skin.
Scientific research conducted by Thrombosis Research Institute in England in 1993 revealed that the individuals who used cold water saw an increase in the number of virus-fighting white blood cells compared to those who used hot water. The researchers believed that your increased metabolic rate, which results from your body’s attempt to warm itself up, activates your immune system and releases more white blood cells as a response.
3. Tightens and close your pores:
The use of cold water when shaving will tighten and close your pores. This will help to lock in the moisture for your skin, preventing harmful germs, dust, dirt, and beauty products from getting into it.
According to one of our readers: “Cold water can tighten skin. First, the follicle muscles contract, reducing the skin volume and pulling it tighter. Further, smooth muscles around the arterioles in the skin can also contract. This would cause further tightening. (Arteriole muscle does not have to contract, depending on the body’s reaction to the temperature difference, but generally, it does.)”
4. Minimum risk of burns, bumps, cuts, nicks, irritation, and ingrown hair:
Shaving with cold water is a great idea if you have sensitive skin.
5. Better and much closer shave:
The cold water will make your beard and mustache hair stiff and upright. With cold water, your hair becomes stiff, making the cut more transverse as your hair stands upright, which leads to a much better, closer, and cleaner shave. Hairs are shaved closer to the skin, and cuts are perpendicular to the hair shafts.
6. Rejuvenating and refreshing:
Using cold water when shaving is invigorating and will wake you up better on drowsy mornings.
7. Saves a lot of energy:
The gas used to heat water is a non-renewable source of energy. It is ok to use hot water if you have a solar water heater.
Don’t use cold water for shaving if:
1. You are feverish or over-heated:
To reduce your body temperature and cool down, your blood vessels must dilate to release heat. Using cold water to shave will constrict your blood vessels instead of dilating them.
2. You suffer from high blood pressure:
If you use cold water to shave, your blood vessels will contract, increasing the risk of a stroke.
3. You have a weak, diseased heart:
You should not use cold water to shave if you have a weak or diseased heart.
Benefits of using hot water when shaving:
1. Softens your hair follicles:
The hot water softens your hair shaft and follicles. It will make your hair bend as your blade glides along each one making a longitudinal cut.
2. Eliminates insomnia and promotes healthier sleeping habits:
When you use hot water to shave your body or facial hair, your muscles and tissues relax, adjusting your body temperature. When you leave your moist and steamy bathroom into your cooler bedroom, your breathing, heart rate, and body temperature drop, signaling your body that it is time to sleep.
3. Speeds up the process of healing:
If you are suffering from inflammations after shaving, splash some warm water as it will stimulate healing, ease pain and reduce the inflammation quickly.
4. Clears a blocked nose or sinuses:
The steam from the hot water you are using to shave your beard is a natural decongestant that relieves the symptoms of a cold because it will moisturize your nasal passage.
Cons of using hot water when shaving
1. Aggravates acne:
Hot water will unblock your pores, but it will aggravate the acne. Acne occurs when there is a lot of oil, grease, or sebum on your facial skin. The hot water will remove the outermost layer of oil, grease, or sebum.
But this removal will trigger your facial skin to produce even more sebum in a larger quantity after you use hot water to rinse your face. If you suffer from acne, it is a good idea always to use only cold water when shaving to help control your sebum production and stop the new outbreaks.
The use of hot water when shaving will make your facial skin puffy.
Is it good to shave with hard water?
If the water in your house has a high percentage of calcium and magnesium in it, it is called hard water. When you combine the hard water with your shaving soap, you will see a lack of lather as the high content of minerals in the hard water will react with your shaving soap. Don’t shave in such a situation unless you add water softeners (sodium chloride or potassium chloride) to your water tank or reservoir.
Lack of lather will cause your razor to tug and pull on your hair, making shaving the most painful, unpleasant, and uncomfortable experience ever. If you use shaving cream, hard water’s effects will not be so obvious because it contains some water. It is advisable to use distilled water for shaving.
The hard water will ruin your shaving brush and blades as the minerals in it will settle down and cling to them, eroding them over time. You will also notice slimy soap scum clings to your sink after shaving.
What do experts say about hot or cold water shaving
According to a bunch of writers, cold water is ideal for use when shaving:
- Sir Benjamin Franklin: wrote, “The act of shaving with cold water is much easier; it allows your whiskers to be stiff; your razor to slice your hair, and obtaining the hot water much less of a bother.”
- Sir J. Bannard: wrote in Present to an Apprentice in 1838, “Always shave with cold water. The use of cold water saves much time, and trouble_ tends to preserve the smoothness and beauty of your skin; and when you have accustomed your face to it, you will shave as easily with cold water as with warm.”
- The Young Man’s Guide tells the readers, “For the want of the hot water, the job is put off until a later hour: this causes you to go in a slovenly state all that day, and the next day the thing must be done, or cleanliness must be abandoned altogether”.
- Cottager’s Monthly Visitor: the editor writes, “Do not lose time by waiting for hot water. Cold is better after you once get accustomed to it. Hot water can make your face delicate and tender, the very cause why shaving is a painful operation.”
- Shaving Made Easy: In natural oily conditions, it is very difficult to cut your hair with your razor, and it becomes even more difficult if your beard is made softer by applying hot water. Many men and women do this, and it is no wonder they find shaving difficult. When this is done, your hairs become soft and limp, and your razor will either slip over your hair entirely or else cut partly into your hair, bend your hair back and shave your hair lengthwise, all the while pulling and straining your hair at the roots, and making the process of shaving a very painful one.
Here’s what modern dermatologists say about using cold water when shaving:
- “Coldwater reduces inflammation. It is like putting a cold compress onto an injury,” said Adam Penstein, a licensed dermatologist.
- After shaving, use cold water: A board-certified dermatologist, Robert Anolik, MD, FAAD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine, said: “After shaving, you should rinse your face with cold water to reduce inflammation. You must then apply a moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or higher. The moisturizer will help close your pores.”
- Hot water opens your pores: “The hot water opens up the pores, whereas the cold water closes them,” said Eric Holmes, a barber at Blind Barber in Los Angeles. “The use of cold water will firm your skin and prevent blockage, as you wash away any hair, dead skin, and shave gel residue from your face.”
To sum up, even knowing shaving with cold water has advantages, I still prefer and recommend using hot water before and cold water after shaving.
Why choose cold water for shaving
One of our readers was not happy with our conclusion about choosing warm water for shaving, and he sent us his reasons why he would go for cold water. As the choice between both is not black and white, there is a lot to say about choosing cold water instead of warm water. As what he mentioned can help other readers as well, I will add his opinion here:
The article goes on in multiple ways about why cold water is better than warm water for shaving, then you recommend warm water for shaving. So why write the article if you’re trying to sell the idea of warm water anyway?
● Good Reasons for Using Cold Water:
- Cold water causes hair follicle muscles to tighten, erecting the hairs, shaving closer to the skin, and cutting perpendicular to the hair shafts.
- Cold water can tighten skin. First, the follicle muscles contract, reducing the skin volume and pulling it tighter. Further, smooth muscles around the arterioles in the skin can also contract. This would cause further tightening. (Arteriole muscle does not have to contract, depending on the body’s reaction to the temperature difference, but generally, it does.)
● Why Warm Water is Bad
The hair shafts are not erect, and they are (supposedly) softer. I don’t have data, but I suspect the “softer” claim is really about how easily the hair is moved around due to relaxed follicle muscles. Either way, your own article points out how the “softer” hairs associated with warm water are shaved more poorly than stiffer hairs with cold water.
By the way, I question if hair fibers are noticeably softer at warm water temperatures of 300 degrees Kelvin vs. 290 degrees K of cool water. That’s only a difference of 3% of the thermal energy! Note that I use degrees Kelvin because – as any learned person knows – absolute heat (and thus absolute temperature) is what matters to chemical bond stiffness and reaction rates, not some archaic Fahrenheit system that implies heat magically disappears at “0 degrees” when water freezes.
Further, if the hair is noticeably softer (and not just sticking up more due to stiff follicles), it is a bad outcome of using warm water, just as your article states.