There are mornings when I get up and feel lethargic and fuzzy headed for no particular reason, perhaps due to the cold, dark winter days that are now upon us. My “pick me up” is not dragging my butt to the Keurig, rather venturing outside first thing in the morning with Dudley for a brief, brisk walk to clear my mind and kick start my energy level. The cold, crisp winter air has a revitalizing effect on my mood and on my skin. There is science behind how hot and cold temperatures can affect your skin as well as their benefits (and drawbacks) when it comes to the aging effect. If you know how to properly manage the exposure of these elements you will be reaping several anti aging benefits. Here are some benefits of hot/warm and cold/cool temperatures on your skin.
Myth Buster…Do Pores Open and Close?
First things first…a myth exists that our facial pores expand (with heat) and contract (with cold). So does that mean that each of our tiny little pores on our face have muscles that open and close? Wow…that means we can use those tiny little muscles to our advantage to help tighten our faces. Nope, not true. BUSTED. Pores can dilate when they become clogged and you can make pores appear smaller through a good daily cleaning regimen but they will not open and close like little clams. Sigh…
Benefits of Cold/Cool Water On Your Skin
If you are like me, I love stepping into a hot shower or bath and feeling the “ooh ah”. This is however one of the worst things you can do for your skin as hot water, especially for a prolonged period can dehydrate your skin (hello wrinkly fingers), strip your skin of its natural oils, and leave you with a dry and dull complexion. Forego the hot water and instead (be brave) and try a cool shower to reap the following benefits:
- cool water improves blood circulation which helps skin prevent premature cell aging
- cool water activates your sympathetic nervous system which makes your body release hormones that help you fight stress
- cool water reduces puffiness and dark circles under your eyes
- cool water increases your blood flow which makes your skin cells look more radiant and healthy
- cool water nourishes your skin to support cell rejuvenation
- cool water makes your skin more resilient and helps accelerate cell repair
Reduces Stress on Skin
- cool water stimulates the release of “happy hormones” such as endorphins which makes your skin less prone to acne, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis
- cool water reduces swelling and redness and helps alleviate the pain caused by acne breakouts
- cool water relieves itchiness caused by psoriasis
Benefits of Hot/Warm Water On Your Skin
We are once again living in the era of bathfluence. Baths are not just for your kids. A long steep in your bathtub has medicinal benefits which have long been documented back to the middle ages. Yes, showers are quick and do the trick but if you truly want an experience that has staying power, climb into a warm (not too hot) tub for the following reasons:
Relieves Sore Muscles
- Increases blood circulation to help relax sore muscles. Add Epsom salt for added healing boost.
Soothes Angry Skin
- Hydrate and soothe your skin by adding essential oils (rose, lavender, aloe, or oatmeal
- Baths provide you with a warm hug in an isolated, (and hopefully) quiet environment that gives you a sense of caring and comfort. Add your favourite essential oil for an aromatherapy experience.
- Similar to sleeping in a cold bedroom, a warm bath will raise your body temperature and upon exit will quickly cool it down which produces melatonin to help you sleep
- Induces sweating which can help burn off some calories. Okay, not in a major way, but every less calorie is a good thing.
- Relieves stuffy notes and coughs by increasing blood circulation in your face
Alternating Hot and Cold on Your Skin
Now that we know the merits of hot and cold water on their own, what happens if we alternate between the two? Good things happen for your overall health…
We had the pleasure over the holidays to visit friends of ours who live on a lake. The lake ice conditions were perfect to enjoy the rare experience of skating on glass ice and if you have ever done this it is a memorable experience, even for us northerners. At the end of our friend’s dock we noticed a hatch in the ice that led to a perfectly carved hole where they regularly enjoy polar bear dips throughout the winter. My first reaction…are you nuts? (This reaction however is coming from me…a northern gal who somehow manages to still feel chilly even while sitting in front of a roaring fire while wearing flannel and cozy socks)
Nuts…no. Aside from the adrenaline rush and pure fun of it…here is some medical based research on the benefits of hot and cold therapy:
- helps combat arteriosclerosis (thickening and hardening of your artery walls)
- reduces inflammation
- removes heavy metals and toxins
- increases cardiovascular health
- improves levels of endurance
- increases red blood cell count and growth hormone levels
- aids in weight loss by burning more calories and increasing your metabolic rate
- improves lymphatic circulation
- reduces stress and improves sleep
Polar bear plunges are not for the faint of heart (literally) and if you have health issues I would not add this activity to your new list of winter hobbies. You can however enjoy less dramatic approaches using heat and cold to help you fight the anti aging process as mentioned.
If you have any questions or comments on this article, I would love to hear from you!