Sunday, June 5, 2011

PLEASE—No Hot Water!

No matter your skin type, age, or gender: Please do not use hot water on your face! You always want to use tepid water on your face—never hot or cold. Tepid means lukewarm, neutral, or moderate in terms of temperature. In fact, tepid water is very close to our own body’s temperature. It shouldn’t feel hot or cold on your skin. Why? Ask your capillaries.

The vascular system for your face is made up of tiny vessels called capillaries, which by nature are very weak. I once heard a doctor say, “Capillaries are akin to wet toilet paper.” Now that’s weak!

Remember: Heat dilates or expands (opening up the capillaries) and cold constricts (or closes the capillaries). Extremes in temperature are simply too much for the capillaries to tolerate. Either one of these extremes, especially over time, can cause the vessels to break or dysfunction. In extreme cases this causes a condition called couperouse or broken capillaries. Along with the redness couperouse causes, your skin may also become very sensitive. 

Illustration by Narda Lebo from Timeless Skin
When you’re in the shower, turn away from the water. Let it drip down your face, as opposed to sticking your face in the hot shower spray. Even cupping your hands and splash-rinsing probably does not give the hot water a chance to cool off before it hits your face. Since you’re in the shower, you could also just put your wet hands on your face and wipe the cleanser off. Yes, this might take a few passes to accomplish, but better 5-10 seconds of cleanser removal vs. a lifetime of red skin. And like this illustration, when removing shampoo and conditioner from your hair, be sure to put your hands up as a barrier so the (hot) water doesn’t drip down your face. Some is OK (and inevitable), but don’t let a flood come rushing down!

However you choose to rinse, be sure to keep your face out of the direct spray of hot shower water. When you’re at your bathroom sink you can easily regulate the water’s temperature. By the way, cold water is equally damaging to the delicate capillaries.

Read the following for more information on the delicate capillaries and things that can cause problems for them: