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View Full Version : How badly is hot water damaging my hair?



Shibe
March 9th, 2014, 11:43 PM
I shower and wash my hair 3-4 times a week, and like using hot water. Some say it's equivelant to using heating tools- is this true? If so, how much damage is it doing?

I don't use hair spray, gels, curling/flat irons, blow-driers, and only finger comb when wet. I also put up in a braid or pony a few times a week. I am pretty good about S&D.

I use conditioner every time I shower, as well.

furnival
March 10th, 2014, 12:40 AM
I don't think hot water is as damaging as heat styling. If if recall correctly, heat damage is caused when water within the hair shaft is subject to such a high temperature that it boils, expands violently and breaks through the cuticle. A hot shower is less than half that temperature, and though the heat might still cause expansion, it's not going to be anything like the expansion caused by boiling.
I always wash my hair in hot water and it's not particularly damaged, though it's fine and fairly delicate. I noticed far more damage from wearing it down or in a pony a lot of the time as you say you do. For me, protective styles have made far and away the biggest difference to my hair.

emilia1992
March 10th, 2014, 03:15 AM
So long as you're not literally boiling your hair, it should be fine; if it's okay for your hand, it's okay for your hair.

MinderMutsig
March 10th, 2014, 03:25 AM
So long as you're not literally boiling your hair, it should be fine; if it's okay for your hand, it's okay for your hair.
I kind of live by this philosophy but there is a major flaw in this thinking.

The cells in your hands get replaced regularly, any superficial damage gets repaired and doesn't stay there for long. Your hair can't do that and carries everything that ever happened to it along making it more fragile every time so it could most definitely harm your hair even if it isn't harming your skin.

Big deal though. I'm not showering cold! I try to keep my hair out of the way for most of it and do a cooler acidic rinse for just my hair at the end of the shower but that's as far as I'm willing to go.

longishhair
March 10th, 2014, 04:08 AM
I *sometimes* turn the cool water up while showering, but at the beginning and end of showers there is no way I'm going to freeze.
Stopping use of the blowdryer, oiling and being careful with my hair in general has made a significant difference though.
So I'd say you're fine showering with hot water if you're quite nice to your hair in other ways.

ETA: I didn't change the water temperatures when I started oiling and ditched the blowdryer, which proves to me that these two on their own are beneficial to (my) hair. YMMV.

Firefox7275
March 10th, 2014, 06:30 AM
Sciencey Hairblog did a little experiment on the short term effect of different water temperatures. It's not necessarily the temperature, pressure could damage the canopy if you let the water beat down.

queenovnight
March 10th, 2014, 06:52 AM
I wash my hair with hot water as well, and never noticed damage from it.
But I do always rinse my hair with cold water afterwards. It's suppose to be beneficial.. but who really knows.

longishhair
March 10th, 2014, 11:06 AM
So long as you're not literally boiling your hair, it should be fine; if it's okay for your hand, it's okay for your hair.

After accidentally pouring boiling water on my hand (yoooooowch :wail:) I definitely know that the water in my shower doesn't reach THAT temperature. I recommend being careful when straining spaghetti...:agape:

Fericera
March 10th, 2014, 11:46 AM
I don't think it would be AS damaging as blow drying or straightening, but it's better to not open up the hair shaft any more than you have to. I adore hot showers as well, and I just keep my hair out of the spray while I'm washing myself, then I use lukewarm water on my hair and rinse with cool. I feel like it makes a huge difference on my hair and it's far shinier and softer when I keep it out of the hot water. You could also try a shower cap, I just personally have never done that. If it doesn't bother your hair though, carry on!

ravenreed
March 10th, 2014, 11:55 AM
I CO my hair every other day. I don't use the hottest setting, but I also don't avoid using a comfortably warm/hot temperature. I also have to rinse the heck out of it to get the conditioner completely rinsed out. My hair doesn't seem overly affected by the hot water, so I see no reason to fret over it.

longishhair
March 10th, 2014, 11:56 AM
I don't think it would be AS damaging as blow drying or straightening, but it's better to not open up the hair shaft any more than you have to. I adore hot showers as well, and I just keep my hair out of the spray while I'm washing myself, then I use lukewarm water on my hair and rinse with cool. I feel like it makes a huge difference on my hair and it's far shinier and softer when I keep it out of the hot water. You could also try a shower cap, I just personally have never done that. If it doesn't bother your hair though, carry on!

Do you know how to enlarge a shower cap so that all my hair'll fit in it? I don't mind part of my oiled hair sticking out of the shower cap when doing oil treatments, but that hair sticking out during a shower would kind of defeat the use of a shower cap...

DweamGoiL
March 10th, 2014, 12:08 PM
I don't think it's really damaging per se, but more like not as healthy, of course, assuming you are not using scalding water. From what I have read, hot water also strips hair of your natural oils, which most people then need to replace with conditioners. To be perfectly honest, I would imagine that you achieve the same result by washing with particularly harsh shampoos anyway. I know water poured overhead can add to the wear and tear that our hair experiences every day as well. I have read here and there that the whole cuticles open thing happens only when the hair is exposed to high temperatures for a certain amount of time (over 15 minutes or so if I recall correctly). All this would indicate that unless you are using water which would actually melt your hair or compromise its structure, you are probably not damaging it, but rather making it more prone to dryness.

truepeacenik
March 10th, 2014, 12:10 PM
I don't think hot water is as damaging as heat styling. If if recall correctly, heat damage is caused when water within the hair shaft is subject to such a high temperature that it boils, expands violently and breaks through the cuticle. A hot shower is less than half that temperature, and though the heat might still cause expansion, it's not going to be anything like the expansion caused by boiling.
I always wash my hair in hot water and it's not particularly damaged, though it's fine and fairly delicate. I noticed far more damage from wearing it down or in a pony a lot of the time as you say you do. For me, protective styles have made far and away the biggest difference to my hair.


I kind of live by this philosophy but there is a major flaw in this thinking.

The cells in your hands get replaced regularly, any superficial damage gets repaired and doesn't stay there for long. Your hair can't do that and carries everything that ever happened to it along making it more fragile every time so it could most definitely harm your hair even if it isn't harming your skin.

Big deal though. I'm not showering cold! I try to keep my hair out of the way for most of it and do a cooler acidic rinse for just my hair at the end of the shower but that's as far as I'm willing to go.

Minor adjustment, being nit picky and all.
Hot water seems to lift the cuticle. That equates to rough texture. Loss of shine likely. Cool to cold rinses fix that, if the scales haven't been damaged while raised in the past.

So the hand-hair analogy works here.
The damage can be temporary, like the reddening of skin with hot water.

In winter, I rinse my length under cool tap water, but my showers are hot.
In summer, I take warm to tepid showers anyway.

Also, on shower caps, bun your hair and most sizes work fine.
I use a typical size, but not disposable, for my thigh length hair.

What I struggle with is ones that don't stretch out at the elastic. My last one made it four years, and should have only been used for two, really.

Suggestions?

Fericera
March 10th, 2014, 12:20 PM
Do you know how to enlarge a shower cap so that all my hair'll fit in it? I don't mind part of my oiled hair sticking out of the shower cap when doing oil treatments, but that hair sticking out during a shower would kind of defeat the use of a shower cap...

There might be some specialty large caps sold somewhere, if not, you could make your own. I'm not super creative when it comes to making things, but I think all you'd need would be two layers of plastic/vinyl and some elastic. If you made that into a snood style it would hold a lot of hair.

HazelBug
March 10th, 2014, 01:02 PM
I use very hot water in the shower. Most soaps don't agree with my skin so I use the hot water to get my skin really clean. My hair doesn't seem worse off for it. But my hair is hard to damage. I've grown to tbl with a blunt hemline and hardly ever got splits. I s&d regularly now and hardly ever find splits. My hair has been dyed black, bleached twice, toned dyed and dyed again. So I may not be the best example. I love how strong my hair is. Except when I have a HARD time getting color on virgin hair. (it took 2 to 3 dye treatments to turn my dark blondish/maybe light brown hair black.)

Hypnotica
March 10th, 2014, 01:36 PM
I shower very hot and I wash my hair about twice a week, sometimes more. I have not experienced anything bad with that and to top it off I always damp bun before going to bed.

spidermom
March 10th, 2014, 01:39 PM
If you can stand under it in the shower, I would call that warm, not hot.

Larki
March 10th, 2014, 01:42 PM
I went to a hot springs where the water went up to 104F and it was SO hot, I could barely stand it. So I think it's safe to say my showers are probably 100F, max.

Kimberly
March 10th, 2014, 02:35 PM
When we aren't having a drought here, I stand under the hot water until it runs out. Never noticed any actual damage from hot water, but I do find my hair is smoother and easier to comb if I use a cold rinse at the end.

Khristopher
March 10th, 2014, 04:10 PM
In my experience hot water doesn't damage the hair, but I like how it feels with cold water. What I do is shower with hot water, using a shower cap, and then wash my hair later on my kitchen sink. That way my hair feels good and I don't get so cold because I'm already dressed. I barely do both on the same day though, it takes a lot of time!

truepeacenik
March 11th, 2014, 01:30 AM
I went to a hot springs where the water went up to 104F and it was SO hot, I could barely stand it. So I think it's safe to say my showers are probably 100F, max.

I just thought that my lobster pot habit is probably really bad for my hair.
Lobster Pot hot springs pools are 108-115F.

Shibe
March 11th, 2014, 02:26 AM
115! Oh my goodness.

I'd come out of there with a scalded tushie!

longishhair
March 11th, 2014, 11:42 AM
In my experience hot water doesn't damage the hair, but I like how it feels with cold water. What I do is shower with hot water, using a shower cap, and then wash my hair later on my kitchen sink. That way my hair feels good and I don't get so cold because I'm already dressed. I barely do both on the same day though, it takes a lot of time!

If only I could keep the hair out of the drain while washing it in the sink, that might be an idea... but my hair moves the sieve which I place on the drain so the hair ends up in it and I end up digging it out :puke:

Anje
March 11th, 2014, 12:04 PM
I imagine that water at temps under, say, 120F/49C isn't going to harm your hair much more than it harms your skin. Might be a little drying, but it's not that bad. Compare to a flat iron at 450F/230C... Not even in the same ballpark.

As for me, I'm going to keep taking my nice warm showers. :P

meteor
March 11th, 2014, 12:28 PM
Boiling, scalding hot water is damaging, but you probably don't wash in that kind of temperature anyway, because it would be intolerable on skin.
What I like about hot water is that it washes off dirt and grease faster. But cooler water is better if you don't want to wash off all of your oil/sebum and conditioner, so a cool final rinse for washing off your conditioner is probably better than very hot water.

I've never seen any research on different ranges of temperature of water and its effect on hair.
But there is one blog article that I find useful and highly recommend: http://science-yhairblog.blogspot.ca/2014/01/do-cold-water-rinses-make-hair-shine.html
The author looked under microscope at kinky, coarse, and porous hair strands and found that both ice cold and very hot water are not ideal - causing swelling / lifting of cuticle - unless your hair is coarse.
Kinky/curly hair:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QHM7WGutbbk/UtF9KRTgh5I/AAAAAAAAAvg/tDZI4zfWGqM/s1600/kinking.jpg
Coarse hair:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-3vCMWhqAFxc/UtF9wdSXfrI/AAAAAAAAAvw/dwdQfKMo27A/s1600/coarse_hair.jpg
Porous hair:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gQzJZglB4W4/UtF-5UtT3gI/AAAAAAAAAv4/CcLcZJEhhFI/s1600/porous_hair.jpg

Fethenwen
March 11th, 2014, 12:39 PM
^Interesting.


I never wash my hair with warm water, I notice a definitive difference if I do. My hair comes out much smoother if I use cold water, + an acidic rinse. But I guess for some people it wont make much of a difference.
I always wash my hair separately (over the tub with my hair hanging "upside-down"), so using cold water is not a big deal that way. If I do a WO wash, I might use a little warmer water at first to get the wash more effective, but I always finish with a colder rinse.

meteor
March 11th, 2014, 01:00 PM
Sciencey Hairblog did a little experiment on the short term effect of different water temperatures. It's not necessarily the temperature, pressure could damage the canopy if you let the water beat down.

Not to derail this thread, but could you please expand on this, Firefox? I had no idea about the water pressure (I'm assuming, you mean shower head pressure) damaging the hair, and I can't find any information on this, including on the Science-y Hairblog (which I love!).
It makes sense though, and, much as I love high pressure shower, I'd like to avoid this damage as my canopy hair is the most fragile and fine.