Quick Tips: Should you wash your face with warm or cold water?

Washing your face shouldn't leave your skin red or irritated.
When it comes too washing your face, you should aim to use water that's not too hot or too cold.
┬ęBrand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Have you ever heard that washing your face with very cold water might help tighten the skin and prevent or minimize wrinkles? Or that washing your face with steamy hot water will open pores and possibly help your cleansers scrub deeper? There are plenty of myths floating around about face cleaning practices, but washing your face with water that's too hot or too cold may do your skin more harm than good.

First things first, let's get one thing out of the way: Pores don't open and close. So those things you've heard about steaming your pores open and using ice water to close them don't have any scientific backing. In fact, too-hot or too-cold temperatures may irritate skin and cause flare-ups for rosacea patients!


Instead, find a perfect in-between temperature. Warm water cleanses better than cold, says Dr. Jeffrey Dover, a Boston dermatologist and co-director of SkinCare Physicians. "But if the water temperature is too hot, you can scald the skin, causing irritation, and dilating vessels."

Washing with water that's very cold won't harm your skin but it may just be unpleasant, says Dr. Dover.

But not all dermatologists agree that warm is best. Board-certified dermatologist Jessica Krant, MD, in an article on HuffingtonPost.com, said that, "While it might feel good to warm up with a steamy splash of water, icy cold or lukewarm water both have their benefits. Excessively hot water will strip healthy natural oils from your skin too quickly." [source: HuffingtonPost.com]

Bottom line: Never wash with steaming hot water. For the best results, wash your face one a day, at night, using lukewarm or warm, not hot, water. Hot water might dry your skin too much. After cleansing, use cool water as a final rinse and pat gently with a clean towel. Follow up with toner, moisturizer or night cream shortly after drying your face to lock in moisture. [source: HowStuffWorks.com]

More on How To Wash Your Face.


Lots More Information

Related Articles


  • Jeffrey Dover, Personal correspondence. August 1, 2013.
  • HuffingtonPost.com: "How To Wash Your Face: 7 Ways To Keep Your Skin Healthy" (November 16, 2012) http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/07/25/beware-of-these-hidden-causes-of-acne
  • HowStuffWorks.com: How to Wash Your Face.https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/cleansing/basics/how-to-wash-face.htm