Is Washing Your Face with Cold Water a Skin Care Miracle or a Mistake?

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If you are like most people, you probably wash your face with whatever water temperature feels comfortable to you. But have you ever wondered if the temperature of the water you use to cleanse your skin matters? Does washing your face with cold water have any benefits or drawbacks? Is it better to use hot water instead?

We will explore these questions and more, based on scientific evidence and expert opinions. When it comes to skincare, the choice between washing your face with cold water and other temperatures is a decision that can impact your skin’s health and appearance. Let’s dive right in and learn the ideal temperature of water for washing your face.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, lukewarm water is the ideal temperature for washing your face, as it is neither too hot nor too cold. This choice is based on the fact that using hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and prone to irritation.

Additionally, this stripping of natural oils can prompt your skin to produce even more oil to compensate, potentially clogging pores and resulting in breakouts.

Moreover, hot water can exacerbate skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis.

Conversely, using cold water to clean your face can make your efforts less effective. Although many people recommend using cold water while washing their face or use it themselves. Actually washing face with cold water has advantages as well as disadvantages.

Benefits of Washing Your Face With Cold Water

As we mentioned earlier, washing your face with cold water comes with several potential benefits.

Studies have shown that cold water can stimulate blood flow to the skin, which not only helps reduce inflammation but can also alleviate pain.

Additionally, Cold water also helps to control excess sebum production, which is a boon for oily skin. It can be especially soothing for skin conditions such as acne and rosacea.

In fact, research suggests that cold water can play a role in reducing the effects of burns.

One study found that applying cold water to burned skin helps reduce edema formation and preserves blood circulation, potentially aiding in the recovery process for burn victims.

Disadvantages of Washing Face With Cold Water

Washing your face with cold water also has some drawbacks, especially if you do it too often or for too long. One major disadvantage is that it may not remove all the impurities and oils from your face, as excess oil and certain impurities don’t dissolve in cold water, leading to less effective cleansing.

Moreover, washing your face with cold water shrinks your pores, which might initially feel good for those with larger pores. However, this pore-shrinking effect can trap germs, bacteria, and oil within them, eventually leading to the formation of stubborn blackheads.

As you can see, washing your face with cold water has both advantages and disadvantages. However, most experts agree that using lukewarm water is the best option for most people and most situations.

Increases absorption of other skin care products

Lukewarm water has a unique ability to enhance the absorption of skincare products. When you wash your face with water that’s just warm enough, it gently opens up your pores, allowing for better penetration of cleansers, moisturizers, and treatments.

Cleanses your skin properly

Lukewarm water can help plump the skin, which in turn minimizes the appearance of pores. This can leave your skin looking smoother and more refined. In contrast, cold water can constrict pores, making it harder for cleansers to work effectively. This means that despite your best efforts, washing with cold water might leave behind impurities that can lead to breakouts or irritation.

Suitable for all skin types

Using the right temperature of water is especially crucial when it comes to removing all traces of dirt, makeup, and environmental pollutants from your skin. Lukewarm water paired with a suitable cleanser dissolves and washes away these impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oils. This balance is beneficial for all skin types, as it helps maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier and prevents over-drying or excessive oiliness.

Does That Mean You Should Never Use Cold Water When Washing Your Face?

Not necessarily. While lukewarm water is the recommended choice for most situations, there are instances where using cold water can be beneficial.

You can still use cold water for washing your face occasionally or for specific purposes:

  • After cleansing with lukewarm water: Using cold water after cleansing can help rinse off any residue and close your pores, giving your skin a refreshed and tightened feeling.
  • As a final splash: A final splash of cold water can invigorate your skin, boost its circulation, and leave you feeling revitalized.
  • As a compress: Cold water can be used as a soothing compress to alleviate discomfort from sunburns, rashes, or insect bites.
  • As an ice cube: Massaging your face with an ice cube can help reduce inflammation and leave your skin looking rejuvenated.

However, you should avoid using cold water in the following situations:

  • If you have dry, sensitive, or mature skin: These skin types typically require more hydration and nourishment, and cold water may not provide the necessary moisture.
  • If you have acne-prone or oily skin: Oily and acne-prone skin may benefit from more thorough cleansing and exfoliation, which lukewarm water can offer.
  • If you have rosacea or other skin conditions aggravated by temperature changes: Cold water may exacerbate certain skin conditions, so it’s best to avoid it if you have such issues.
  • During cold weather or in a cold climate: Cold water can be harsh on the skin, particularly in winter when the skin is more vulnerable to dryness and damage.

Tips for Washing Your Face

To make the most out of washing your face with lukewarm water (and occasionally using cold water), here are some practical tips to follow:

  • Wash Twice Daily: Make it a habit to cleanse your face both in the morning and at night. This routine effectively removes accumulated dirt, oil, makeup, and pollutants that can take a toll on your skin.
  • Choose the Right Cleanser: Select a gentle cleanser tailored to your specific skin type and concerns. Steer clear of harsh or abrasive cleansers, as they can strip or harm your skin’s protective barrier.
  • Gentle Massage: When washing your face, use gentle circular motions with your fingertips or a soft washcloth. Avoid aggressive scrubbing or rubbing, as this can lead to skin irritation or micro-tears.
  • Thorough Rinse: After cleansing, rinse your face thoroughly with lukewarm water until no traces of the cleanser remain. If you desire a pore-tightening and skin-refreshing effect, finish by splashing some cold water on your face.
  • Apply Moisturizer: While your skin is still damp after washing, apply a moisturizer. This helps lock in hydration and prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL), keeping your skin supple and nourished.
  • Daily Sunscreen: Regardless of the weather, apply the right amount of sunscreen every day. This crucial step shields your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, including premature aging, sunburn, and the risk of skin cancer.


In conclusion, the decision to wash your face with cold water isn’t a one-size-fits-all miracle or mistake, but rather a matter of personal preference influenced by your unique skin type, concerns, and goals. However, for the majority of individuals, lukewarm water emerges as the ideal choice for facial cleansing. Its gentle yet effective qualities make it a reliable option for cleansing and nourishing your skin.

While cold water can still play a role in your skincare routine as a refreshing final rinse or a quick fix, it’s essential not to overuse it or rely on it as your primary cleansing method. Striking the right balance and following the tips provided above is key to washing your face properly, maintaining the health and vitality of your skin, and ultimately achieving the best results for your unique needs.

Abhijit Sarkar

Abhijit Sarkar

Abhijit Sarkar is a passionate automobile engineer and part-time content writer. With his deep interest in skincare and hair care, he brings a unique perspective to the world of beauty. Abhijit's expertise lies in dissecting the science behind various hair and skin problems, providing effective solutions, and sharing practical tips for a healthy and radiant appearance. As a meticulous researcher, he delves into the intricacies of beneficial and harmful ingredients, empowering readers to make informed choices. Through his engaging articles, Abhijit aims to simplify the complexities of hair and skincare, helping readers unlock their true beauty potential.

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