It’s time to warm up to the idea of “cold outs.” A cold out is when, for the last 30 or so seconds of your steamy shower experience, you dial down the heat to the coldest the water can get while still on full blast and put every inch of yourself in there. Yes, we’re serious. Yes, even in the winter. It’s not as bad as it sounds, and the benefits greatly outweigh any slight discomfort. Trust.
For those addicted to scalding showers, we know this is tough to hear, but bear with us. First of all, super hot showers aren’t good for anyone. We should be taking warm showers at best, so as not to dry out and irritate our skin. Plus, our hair and scalps love cold water. A cold rinse calms any stress the hot water may have caused to the delicate, thin skin along the scalp, which can result in flakiness or itching. It also produces a little extra shine to our locks, which is why many professional hair experts wash hair with cool water.
Cold water has a similar effect on the rest of your body. You’ll notice softer skin, especially if you suffer from winter dryness. And while pores don’t open and close like doors (pores actually don’t ever close completely), they do slightly contract with a rush of cold water, giving your skin a smoother, tighter appearance.
If shinier hair and softer skin aren’t good enough reasons to start incorporating cold outs, here are some heavy-hitting benefits that might win you over. Cold water increases heart rate and metabolism, according to The British Journal of Sports Medicine. For that brief moment in the shower, your body becomes shocked into working harder to maintain a stable temperature, which actually burns more calories. It’s also a helluva way to wake up and gives you a rush of energy to burn even more calories throughout the rest of your day.
While the idea of a cold blast of water might make you cranky, doing it could actually boost your mood. The BJSM also suggests that because cold showers activate the sympathetic nervous system, they can increase neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and endorphins to give you that feel-good rush.
According to this study, cold outs also help boost immunity and prevent illness, so they’re especially beneficial during cold and flu season or whenever there’s a bug circulating. This is likely due to boosted circulation, and, perhaps the biggest benefit, the movement of lymph. Lymphatic drainage plays a major part in our overall health. The lymphatic system is comprised of nodes and fluid that transport water and nutrients, as well as toxins and waste, through and out of the body all day, everyday. Stagnant lymph that accumulate in pockets of the body can result in puffiness in the face and abdomen, discomfort, infection, illness, breakouts, and poor sleep. Healthy lymph drainage can be stimulated with massage, dry brushing, and movement or exercise, but cold outs are a super effective way to get things moving quickly.
Improved lymph movement and circulation can also spur the production of lactic acid, which helps the body recover more quickly from injury or illness. And while the rush of cold water might wake you up, it also cools the core body temperature, making it easier to fall asleep at night if you’re an evening-shower person.
Do it for the high. While it’s uncomfortable at first, once the water hits your lower back just above the tailbone, a tingling, weightless sensation occurs throughout your body. Whether it’s from the boosted circulation or the instant movement of the lymph is unknown, but what we can say for sure is that it feels euphoric.
If 30 seconds of cold seems like an eternity, we invite you to give it a try. Actually, 30 seconds is about the amount of time it takes to get every bit of the body exposed to the cold water, including underarms, hair, face, and harder to reach areas. Before you know it—boom— you’re done.
To ease yourself into cold outs, turn the water cold and step back and wait for the temperature to drop, testing it with a foot or hand. Put one leg in at a time, then your torso, then face. Turn around and hit your back, lifting up your arms, fully saturating your hair, and moving your hair to the side to get your neck. Finally, let that water hit your lower back for a few seconds to experience the instant endorphin hit. You just might get addicted.