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Can Hot Water Dry Out My Hair and Scalp in Winter?

by: Better Not Younger February 17, 2021 5 min read

a happy woman over 40 years old feels happy about scalp benefits of cold water for her hair in the winter
Wintertime can be rough on your hair and scalp. Dryness and breakage are common in the colder months, and, not surprisingly, the extreme weather has a lot to do with this. Low humidity, high winds, and plummeting temperatures conspire to dehydrate your skin and wreck your hair structure. 

However, cold weather is not the only factor causing winter dryness. Believe it or not, those steamy hot showers thawing your frigid bones are also offsetting your moisture balance. 

Hot water pulls moisture from your skin and pries open your hair’s outer cuticle layer, leaving your strands vulnerable to dehydration and breakage. 

Hot water can absolutely dry out your hair and scalp in winter. Better Not Younger is here to show you how to reduce damaged hair. 

How Hot Water Affects Your Skin 

Hot water and steam affect your skin’s moisture levels in two primary ways: 

  • Opening your pores — Pores, the tiny openings in your skin’s dermal layer, expand in response to heat to cool you off. When your pores are open, your skin is less able to retain moisture. Water typically held in your skin cells to hydrate your scalp is released by evaporation through these openings.
  • Washing away sebum oil — Sebum is a natural moisturizing oil produced by your scalp’s sebaceous glands. Production of this oil declines as you age, triggering dryness that can be exacerbated when you shower or bathe with overly heated water. Sebum oil resists cool water but rinsing with warmer water washes it away. 

When your scalp skin dries out, itching and flaking begin. Moreover, since hot water can damage skin, it has the potential to generate even more severe reactions, including inflammation, stinging, and redness. 

How Hot Water Affects Your Hair 

Your strands are constructed of three layers: 

  • The center called the medulla
  • The middle layer known as the cortex
  • The outer cuticle layer, made up of a series of overlapping shingle-like cells that protect the hair’s inner layers 

When the cuticle heats up, its overlapping cells expand and open. With the cuticle open, the shaft is more vulnerable to damage and dehydration. 

If you wash and rinse your hair using hot water, you will likely experience more breakage, brittleness, dullness, and frizz. On the other hand, cool or lukewarm temperatures smooth down your cuticles so they can retain moisture and strength. 

Dry Hair and Skin: Why Is it Important to Fix? 

A dry, tight, and itchy scalp is often uncomfortable, while dry hair is dull and difficult to style. Yet dryness comes with other long-term and potentially severe consequences. 

Your skin and hair are more than just a façade or a decoration. They carry out several essential bodily functions to keep you healthy. For example, your hair: 

  • Protects your head from the sun’s destructive UV rays.
  • Collects and holds sweat to help cool your body.
  • Helps regulate your temperature by holding in body heat. 

Your skin keeps your body healthy by: 

  • Helping your immune system and shielding your body against bacteria and viruses.
  • Delivering pain signals when you burn yourself with a curling iron.
  • Regulating your temperature. 

It’s essential to keep your scalp and hair functioning correctly for your overall health and wellbeing. If left unchecked, dryness could lead to hair loss and more severe skin problems like eczema and dermatitis

Try These Tips for a Better Shower 

Now that you know how vital it is to take care of your scalp and hair, what can you do? Here are some showering and shampooing guidelines that might help: 

  • Take short showers — As tempting as it is to take lengthy showers on glacial mornings; this can wash away too much of your natural oils and leave your skin vulnerable to temperature fluctuations. Aim for around 5-10 minutes to minimize the drying effects.
  • Shower less frequently — Showering too often strips your sebum away faster than your body can produce it. Unless you need to shower more often due to excessive oil or sweat, once every day or two should be sufficient to help you maintain proper moisture balance.
  • Use lukewarm or cool water — Lukewarm water is anywhere between room temperature and your body temperature — from about 70 to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Staying under this temperature improves circulation and allows your body to retain moisture.
  • Occasionally skip your shampoo — Shampooing isn’t required every time you shower. How often your hair needs cleaning will depend on how oily or dry it is to start. Oily hair needs more frequent washing, but once every two or three days is usually enough for most women with dry or color-treated hair.
  • Pat dry — Vigorous towel rubbing after your shower can damage your hair and increase dryness. Instead, blot dry by gently patting yourself with your towel.
  • Deep moisturize — One to three times per week, follow your shower with a deep conditioning treatment like Better Not Younger’s Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque. This five-butter blend contains fatty acids and other nutrients that help offset wintertime dryness. It softens and hydrates your hair while locking in the moisture and protecting your strands from environmental damage.
  • Use sulfate-free shampoo — Hot water alone can dry out your hair and scalp, but this effect is compounded when sulfate-based soaps and shampoos are added. Instead, select sulfate-free options like Better Not Younger’s Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo. This volumizing shampoo contains Biotin, Hops and Bamboo to naturally thicken and strengthen hair while Sage gently cleanses your scalp without stripping essential oils. It also contains phenol-rich argan oil, which bolsters follicle health and prevents your skin and hair from drying out.

Offset Winter Scalp and Hair Dryness with Better Not Younger 

Winter’s cold, windy months seem like the perfect time to linger in that steamy shower; however, now you know it can cause more harm than good.

To enjoy vibrant hair and a healthy scalp all year round, reduce your shower temps, hop out quicker, and integrate Better Not Younger into your hair care routine. Check out our specials and our complete line of sulfate-free solutions on our Shop page.




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