Few things in the world inspire the fear that a cold shower does.
You can put a man in a Middle Eastern warzone, you can send him down a mountainside cliff with skis strapped to his feet, and you can place him in horrific poverty. Yet compared to those comparatively deadly activities, jumping into a torrent of cold water inspires a disproportionate amount of fear.
For most people the mere mention of cold water will send a shiver down their spine.
If this sounds like you then you will have to face your fear big time: cold showers will not only reduce your acne but they will also massively improve the tone of your skin. They will provide a ton of other health benefits, like reduced stress, which itself will also lead to a massive reduction in acne.
Before you stop reading, let me tell you my story.
My experience with cold showers
Many years ago my acne was absolutely horrendous. It had been horrendous for quite some time, and at this point changing my diet had not even occurred to me. All I had previously done was avoid the classic acne foods like chocolate (which as it turns out, is extremely beneficial for acne).
The main focus of my acne efforts was still hygiene. The problem was that at this time, not only was my face covered with acne, but it had spread to both my back and my chest. I had “bacne” in a big way and was trying to think of hygiene strategies to get rid of it.
I had already tried the classic acne strategies like face washes, moisturisers, and tried endless different products in endless different combinations.
So I began to research some alternative acne-clearing methods. One of the ideas I came across was cold showers. The articles claimed that cold water submersion had extraordinary health benefits, they claimed that many rural communities in countries like Finland loved cold showers, and they claimed that cold water was terrific for your acne and skin.
Naturally, I decided to try them out. If I had been in any other state of mind, I would have instantly rejected having cold showers for the simple reason that they are so uncomfortable.
However my face had been buried in acne for a long time and I was extremely determined to beat it. So for about two months, every day, without fail, I had one cold shower in the morning, and another in the evening. I kept going and going and going and I never let the slightest bit of discomfort put me off.
The results were absolutely extraordinary.
Within a few days, the amount of small pimples on my face had fallen substantially. I still had some bigger-sized acne but the overall quantity was far lower.
The best part is that after a few weeks, the tone of my skin had improved unbelievably; it had a healthy glowing quality, many of my old acne marks had decreased, and it generally looked extremely healthy.
The difference compared to my hot shower days was massive and clearly noticeable.
I did still have some acne on my face, but because the rest of my skin looked so great, it didn’t look anywhere near as bad. One of the best parts was that it changed the skin on my whole body; both my back and chest acne improved and the skin on my entire body looked excellent.
My acne and skin looked better than it had for over two and a half years.
How does this relate to me?
You can do exactly the same thing I did. If you stop taking hot showers and embrace cold ones, you will almost certainly enjoy fantastic benefits for your acne too.
The best part is that I wasn’t using any other acne strategies while taking cold showers. Diet is about ten times as important for clearing acne as good hygiene. But I hadn’t changed my diet and I hadn’t made any significant lifestyle changes.
Therefore if you take the rest of the acne-clearing information on this website and combine it with daily cold showers, the improvement in acne will almost certainly be staggering.
How cold showers actually help your acne
The first reason why cold showers are great for acne is simply because they are not hot showers. A lot of people on the internet believe that hot showers are the best because they open up your pores, allowing you to remove the sebum and dead skin cells within.
It is true that hot showers help you to unblock pores, but their problems for acne vastly outweigh their benefits.
Sebum, the oil that blocks your pores, is not a complete villain – it is necessary to lubricate your skin. If you blast every ounce of sebum on your face with hot water, which is usually what happens, then your body has to regenerate the oil.
Your sebum production actually INCREASES after a hot shower.
The harsh drying effect of hot showers is why some acne patients believe they’re great, but in the long term, they will make your face far oilier. That’s a big reason why seasonal acne exists; acne patients taking hot showers to stay warm during winter.
Cold showers avoid this problem and thus switching to them can reduce sebum production excellently. Such a strategy also tackles the dryness and flakiness that many acne patients suffer from, because hot water is a big cause of that as well.
As for the direct acne benefits, the specific processes through which cold water helps your skin are unclear.
The hot water factor is significant for acne but there are almost certainly others involved. Here are some other potential causes…
Cold water directly nourishes your skin. The fact that cold showers create such a dramatic improvement in the tone of your skin suggests that they have a unique effect on the skin.
Almost no dietary treatment produced the improvement in acne I noticed from cold showers (with the major exception of avoiding sugar). Therefore it is likely that contact with cold water clears acne by directly helping your skin, rather than improving acne through indirect means.
Cold showers tighten your pores. Just as hot water can loosen your pores, cold water can effectively tighten them. Thus cold showers are a good way to prevent clogged pores and the acne from them since basically, it is harder for dead skin cells glued together by keratin, sebum and acne-causing chemicals in cosmetics to get lodged in them.
Big reduction in stress. One of the biggest benefits you will notice is that cold showers put you in a great mood for the rest of the day.
When you jump into a torrent of icy water, it feels extremely uncomfortable for a while. Eventually though, you get used to it. When you then exit the cold shower and step back into the outside air, you feel like a superhuman.
Nothing at all will stress you out; you will be in a fantastic mood for the rest of the day. You’ve already shocked your body with a giant amount of physical stress, so how can mundane problems do the same? Your mood will be elevated all day long and you will be extremely resistant to stress.
Science has actually shown that if you put your body through sharp and powerful stressors, like a cold shower, then your general tolerance to stress will be improved. The implication for your acne is that this reduces your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the main stress hormone and it is a big cause of insulin resistance, which is in turn a big cause of acne.
The cold shower will temporarily elevate your cortisol levels, due to the sheer shock of it, but when you leave and the mood enhancing effects kick in, they will be generally far lower.
You have to try out the cold shower to see what I mean but the effects are so fantastic that you may never want to go back to hot ones.
After that you’ll enjoy a ton of other advantages. For example, lower stress levels can improve your sleep quality too, because of cortisol’s negative effects on neurotransmitters. Sleeping well is so important for acne that in my eBook Annihilate Your Acne I devoted a whole chapter to it.
Spartan showers – the best ever for acne
Now that you know how cold showers are great for your acne, how do you go about having one?
When it comes to cold showers there are two key methods that you can use.
The first one is called the James Bond shower. If you have read any of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond books then you might remember him being a big fan of cold showers.
His strategy was to start off with warm water, then alternate between cold and warm, and finally turn it down to icy cold for the last minute. This was presumably done to strengthen his mind for his spying duties.
This method can be useful for acne if you want to clean out your pores; by starting off with warm water, you can loosen the pores, clean them, and then tighten the pores up again with the final burst of cold water.
This method also has the advantage of being easier to carry out. For some unknown reason it is far easier to switch to cold water when you are already wet; it is far harder for you to jump into a cold swimming pool dry compared to when you have already been in it.
However while this method may be more comfortable it is inferior for acne to the other method: the Spartan shower.
It is called the Spartan shower because it requires great willpower and hardiness to accomplish. Instead of Bond’s varying temperatures, the Spartan shower involves one step: jumping straight into a shower that is icy cold.
This is far more uncomfortable than the James Bond shower. However it is the superior method for your acne because the extra shock provides you with greater mental benefits.
The mood-boosting, stress-crushing purposes of a cold shower are at their peak here. A Spartan shower will stress you out more temporarily, but in the long run you will be so resistant to stress that your cortisol will be lower and the benefits for your acne will be greater.
This method does not allow you to clean your pores out, however you can still do that in a separate face wash.
A good strategy is to have a Spartan shower in the morning, which will provide you with mental benefits for the whole day, and then a James Bond shower in the evening to clean your pores. You don’t want to be wide awake in the evening anyway.
The good news is that both of these methods will help the tone of your skin as they both contain plenty of cold water. If you cannot face leaping straight into the cold water then rest assured – the James Bond shower will still work.
Remember though, that successfully completing a Spartan shower will pump you up beyond belief. The more extreme the shower the more fantastic you will feel afterwards, and you might get so addicted to it that you no longer care about the initial discomfort.
How to actually have a cold shower
The James Bond shower is fairly easy because, as we discussed, you are already wet and that makes things easier. You can also turn the water down slowly; remember that you may not get the mental shock effects but the cold water will still nourish your skin.
The Spartan shower is a lot harder and you may not have the willpower to do it. However there is one simple trick to make it a whole lot easier: do press-ups beforehand.
If you do some proper press-ups, press-ups that are hard enough to get the blood pumping through you, then jumping into a cold shower will be no problem at all. Compared to before it will seem ridiculously easy, your fear will have evaporated.
You will have to try it yourself to find out. The likely explanation is that because your body is already highly stressed out from the exercise, a little bit of extra stress is no problem and this causes your brain to resist it less.
It’s also possible that because press-ups cause a temporary increase in cortisol, they create a “fight-or-flight” response that makes your body less responsive to pain or discomfort.
What you need to know is that this method works extremely well and you should try it if you find taking a cold shower impossible.
More secret tricks for both skin tone and acne
If your skin tone and glow improves from cold showers, but you can’t resist pushing the benefits even further, here’s another arsenal of strategies:
Use sea buckthorn oil – this topical treatment extracted from the sea buckthorn berry is best for oily skin, reducing the skin’s oiliness by 45% in 8 weeks in one study. However, sea buckthorn oil is also extremely rich in carotenoid antioxidants, antioxidants which provide yellow and orange pigments.
When eaten in the diet, such as in sweet potatoes or carrots, carotenoids travel to your skin and accumulate to provide a healthy glowing pigment. However, applying them topically is extra concentrated and efficient, and that’s what sea buckthorn oil does. It’s also excellent for oily skin and acne itself, and carotenoids have a bonus power of defending skin cells from sunlight. Remember to get the berry oil and not the seed oil. Best product: Slice Of Nature Sea Buckthorn Oil.
Eat dark chocolate – the benefits of high cocoa dark chocolate, rather than sugary milk or white chocolate, are two fold. Firstly, dark chocolate causes a surge in blood nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide is a vasodilating gas which increases blood flow through the capillaries, therefore increasing circulation to the skin. Cocoa was once shown to enhance skin blood flow 1.7 fold, and skin oxygenation 1.8 fold. Secondly, dark chocolate is extremely rich in polyphenol and flavanoid antioxidants. Buy 80% plus dark chocolate at all costs (unless pleasure is your goal).
Eat watermelon – watermelon flesh combines the two tricks above. It’s extremely rich in carotenoid antioxidants, specifically lycopene, which is proven to improve skin tone. Like dark chocolate, it increases nitric oxide and blood flow, this time by being rich in citrulline, the precursor to nitric oxide.
Take vitamin D – perhaps the best supplement for skin tone. Zinc is amazing for inflammatory acne and acne overall, but vitamin D supercharges your skin’s appearance and glow more than anything else. Explanations could be a reduction in inflammation, or increased formation of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, which your body uses vitamin D to make.
One theory is that since vitamin D improves fertility strongly, it might improve skin tone and attractiveness as a natural signal that we’re ready to reproduce and continue the species. Best product: Nature’s Plus Garden Vitamin D3.
Breathe correctly – there’s an epidemic right now of people not breathing properly. They breathe through their mouths rather than nose, they breather irregularly, or they fail to breathe deeply because of sitting at a desk all day. Breathing is so natural that most people never consider it, but breathing through your nose, as opposed to your mouth, is proven to increase blood and oxygen flow to the skin.
Skin oxygenation is closely linked to skin appearance and women even have found men with a higher level of skin oxygenation more attractive in studies. Are you in a poor habit of breathing through your mouth? Perform exercises to correct this and you’ll enhance your skin tone forever.
Use grapeseed oil – vitamin E is another nutrient which is vital for skin tone and glow. The solution? Correct your diet, but also use grapeseed oil, one of the most concentrated vitamin E sources among natural topical treatments. Apply cold-pressed grapeseed oil daily and your skin will be drenched in vitamin E. Best product: Vie Naturelle Grapeseed Oil.
Cold showers are an excellent way to clear your acne and it is worth getting over your fear of them, for the shocking benefits they provide.
They also have the advantage of being completely free. For something that doesn’t cost a cent they can have a huge effect on your acne. They are also great for improving the general tone of your skin and are equally as effective as vitamin D for achieving this.
Remember that the results will not come instantly, it will take a few weeks to notice the full reduction in acne. However you should notice at least some acne benefits within days.
If you do, then keep going! The improvements in your acne will only accelerate as time goes on.
Cold showers also make you feel like a superhuman and are thus worth doing even if you don’t need to fix your skin.
Disclaimer – only attempt a cold shower if you are of sound health. Do not try a cold shower if you have a heart condition, breathing difficulties, or other illnesses for which you receive medical care. If you have breathing problems then cold showers will make them worse by constricting your chest muscles. If you are healthy then cold showers won’t harm you at all – in fact, they will improve your health. Firstly you’ve got the mental benefits outlined earlier, and then you have additional advantages like accelerated fat loss and improved immune system functioning.
Thanks for reading!