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Hot vs. Cold Water: Which Should You Use?

Are you wondering: Should you wash your face with hot or cold water? Is hot water bad for your skin? or Is cold water good for your skin? Read on to find out.

A hot shower can feel heavenly—but that doesn’t mean it treats your skin like an angel. Still, there are debates about whether you should wash your face with hot or cold water. Ahead, we’re diving into whether you should wash your face with hot water, as well as if it’s true that hot water is bad for your skin. Let’s jump in.

Should You Wash Your Face With Hot or Cold Water?

Hot water or cold: Which should you wash your face with? Although this topic has been widely discussed for quite some time, we’re bringing down the gavel on it. The truth is simple: washing in hot water is bad for your skin. It strips your skin of its natural oils. This can cause your skin to dry out, which can then spark a chain reaction: dry skin equals a compromised moisture barrier—which equals aggravated skin concerns. Instead, wash and rinse your face with lukewarm water to help minimize the chance of irritation.

Other ways you can help minimize skin discomfort, redness, and further irritating any skin issues while you cleanse are by using gentle, non-abrasive cleansers. Choose one or more of our top picks below.

A shot of Kiehl's most popular face cleansers

For a gentle cleanse, try Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil, which is made with a blend of lavender essential oil, evening primrose oil, and squalane. The indulgent, aromatic, lightweight cleansing oil dissolves dirt, excess oil, and even hard-to-remove makeup. Its formula transforms from an oil into a cleansing milk to soothe and comfort your skin, leaving it feeling soft, supple, and replenished. Bonus: It’s ophthalmologist tested and won’t clog your pores.

Although we love having a luxurious cleansing oil in our skincare routine, if you’d prefer to go a different route, try the customer-favorite Ultra Facial Cleanser. The specially-formulated gentle cleanser, with squalane, glycerin, avocado oil, and vitamin E, gently washes away dirt and debris without stripping your skin of its natural oils. Tested for safety, it’s pH-balanced to help maintain your skin’s moisture balance and is suitable for all skin types.

If you’re going for an intense cleanse, we recommend Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash, which, as the name implies, is a foaming face wash that deep cleans your skin without drying it out. The formula, with calendula extract and glycerin, helps your skin look and feel instantly refreshed and revitalized. You may also appreciate that it contains no parabens, silicone, sulfates, alcohol, or dye, and comes in recyclable packaging.

Another deep-cleansing option is Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleanser, starring fairly-traded Amazonian white clay and aloe barbadensis. This dual-action formula cleanses while gently exfoliating and softening your skin. It also won’t affect your skin’s natural moisture levels—only leave it feeling velvety, fresh, and healthy-looking.

Should You Wash Your Face With Hot Water?

By now, you’ve probably got an idea where we stand on the issue of washing your face with hot water. But, should you wash your face with hot water that’s too hot and end up drying out your skin, an effective moisturizer will be extra important.

In the daytime, give Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30 a try. Its formula, with glacial glycoprotein and fountain plant extract, provides intense 24-hour hydration while helping to safeguard your skin with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Its lightweight, non-greasy texture absorbs quickly to leave your skin looking healthy and feeling soft, balanced, and comfortable.

At night, go sans SPF with its sister moisturizer, Ultra Facial Cream. Our #1 facial cream, boasting glacial glycoprotein, glycerin, and squalane as its hero ingredients, absorbs easily to provide lasting 24-hour hydration. It balances even your skin’s driest areas instantly with 2.3X more moisture. The unique lightweight formula has been tested in both everyday and extreme environments to ensure it leaves skin softer, smoother, and with a healthier appearance. Paraben-, fragrance-, mineral oil-, dye-, and TEA-free, it comes in recyclable packaging.

Is Cold Water Good For Your Skin?

You may be thinking: OK, OK, we get it; hot water is bad for your skin. So, what about the flipside? Is cold water good for your skin? To this, we say, yes!

Lukewarm water is advisable to wash your face with, but cold water has its benefits, too. Cold water tightens the appearance of your skin, so it may make you look renewed and refreshed. It also helps boost your circulation, which can help give your skin a healthier appearance, albeit temporarily.

Should I Wash My Face With Cold Water Before Bed?

When you wash with lukewarm or cold water is entirely up to you, but you may want to avoid the latter just before you hit the hay. It may make you feel more awake and interfere with your sleep. If you prefer cleansing in cold water, we’d suggest giving your skin plenty of time to warm back up before you go to bed.

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