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Cold Showers


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Dear ALL,


Like many of you, I used to suffer from dry skin -- skin so dry, that I also suffered from eczema.


I recall Michael Rae's solution, of increasing the fat content in one's diet -- but that is not consistent with my diet.


For the past several months, I have been taking a really cold shower after exercising -- I exercise six days a week in my local gym, on the most recent model Precor elliptical cross-trainer with hand motion, at the maximum resistance and a high speed (approximately 5miles per hour).


Immediately after the workout, I take my once-daily shower in the gym's shower room -- and it's a VERY cold shower.  I wait about 20 seconds for the water to get appropriately cold, and then smile, and, in a semi-meditative state, allow the very cold water to bathe my back, starting my shower.


It's much easier than it sounds.  I take my complete shower, using a good quality soap (a clone of Olay extra mositurising with shay butter beads), and then dry.  I use no moisturising cream.


I've recently seen my dermatologist, for my annual skin scan.  He found my skin in excellent health, and, for the first time, no problem of dry skin.


I explained that I'm taking cold showers -- and my reasoning:  a warm or hot shower washes away your natural skin oils. 


He told me that, whatever I'm doing, I should continue it.


  -- Saul

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Thanks Saul.


I'm not as brave as you, but since you mentioned this several years ago, I've been ending my (warm) showers with 10-20 seconds of cold shower, to close my pores to keep moisture in.


But one related thing I've done that I think helps me retain my natural oils, and so not suffer from dry skin as much, is not to shower as often.


I never smell, even after perspiring from a workout, which I attribute in large part to the cleanliness of my diet. As a result, I find I can go several days without showering. My hair, which used to both get oily and (paradoxically) have dandruff, has neither condition anymore with a less frequent shower regimen.


I strongly suspect the body adjusts its oil production so as not to create as much if you aren't constantly scrubbing it away.


There is also growing evidence that the microbiome on the surface of our skin is important for defense against infection, and for skin health [1]. But as with the gut, its amazingly complicated and still early days in terms of research on the topic of the skin microbiome.





[1] Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Apr;9(4):244-53. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2537.

The skin microbiome.

Grice EA(1), Segre JA.

Free full text: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3535073/

The skin is the human body's largest organ, colonized by a diverse milieu of
microorganisms, most of which are harmless or even beneficial to their host.
Colonization is driven by the ecology of the skin surface, which is highly
variable depending on topographical location, endogenous host factors and
exogenous environmental factors. The cutaneous innate and adaptive immune
responses can modulate the skin microbiota, but the microbiota also functions in
educating the immune system. The development of molecular methods to identify
microorganisms has led to an emerging view of the resident skin bacteria as
highly diverse and variable. An enhanced understanding of the skin microbiome is
necessary to gain insight into microbial involvement in human skin disorders and
to enable novel promicrobial and antimicrobial therapeutic approaches for their

PMCID: PMC3535073
PMID: 21407241

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Saul, by amazing coincidence I've been reading recently about what some people are calling "cryotherapy" (not liquid nitrogen-level cryo, but cold nonetheless). There's not a lot of research to back up all the claims made about it, but last week for the heck of it I started a routine of having showers where I alternate between really cold and lukewarm (I can't quite take really cold for more than 30-40 seconds; thus, for now, the alternation). It's curiously invigorating (whether or not it removes amyloid beta from the brain, improves immunity, etc., etc., etc.).


Dean, I've actually gone 'poo-less, with the exception of apple cider vinegar "shampoo" once a week or so. The body - certainly the scalp - most assuredly adjusts its oil/fat output based on need. If my hair gets dirty these days, it's dirt "from the outside". I just don't produce noticeable hair grease any more.



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  • 1 month later...



Most of you have probably read, or seen on television, comments -- often by medical professionals -- about the special needs for the use of moisturisers in winter -- the argument goes that, because of heating in homes, the air is especially low in humidity -- which dries out your skin.


But, during hot summer months, most of us have air conditioning -- this lowers the humidity in homes and businesses probably even more than hot air heating in winter.


My guess is, that the reason that many people suffer from dry skin in winter, is because they usually take warmer showers.


I'm continuing to takemy very cold showers in winter, and continue to have healthy skin.


(Again, my dermatologist commented that my skin was perfectly healthy  --  and told me that whatever I'm doing, to keep doing it.)




  -- Saul

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Interesting hypothesis, Saul! I bet the warmer showers in the winter do indeed play a role in drying out skin. But the people-hours spent in air-conditioning during the summer is probably not all that high, in the general population in which this has been studied (loosely or formally) -- which includes northern Europe and northern North America (people are outside a lot, too).


Still, I have little doubt that people have hotter showers in the winter, and that that's not good!



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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I've done some experimentation. Hard to know about the effect on skin, but cold showers in the morning definitely make me feel great!


I finally measured the water temperature. It's not as cold as I thought it would be. My routine:


1. Start at a luke-warmish temperature (turns out: it's 32°C!). Do most of my washing at this level. It's at a "I'd prefer it warmer but I can live with this" level. Not cold, but doesn't feel like it would be bad for my skin.


2. Turn down to a level that is uncomfortable, but if I move around, I can deal with it. Stay there for a minute or so (want to push this out to several mins.). This turns out to be 26°. Still not too impressive!


3. The "finish". Turn down to a level that really hurts, and makes me desperately want to get out of the shower. So far can only deal with this for 15-20 seconds. This turns out to be 22°.


22° is what we dealt with easily as kids during the first swim of the summer in the North Atlantic. It's funny that it's so intolerable in the shower!!


I'm still looking at the research -- what little there is -- to see what temperatures would be likely to produce the best health effects.




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  • 1 year later...

Interesting thread which I'd like to resuscitate since it was linked and mentioned by Saul today.


The effect of a cold morning shower is impressing. It causes a sudden rush of norepinephrine, which invigorates the body and definitely wakes the mind up from the numbness of sleep. May be not advisable if a blood pressure surge is not desired for any reason.


I start directly with cold water, which is initially warmer (the effect of the house temperature) then cools down at pretty cold temps since my water mains are superficial for a tract.


On the legs for a few seconds, then on the face, then head and whole body.


Did not measure the temp, should do that, lower than 10°C surely, maybe around 5°C now.


I stay from 2 to 3 minutes, so far 3.5 minutes was the max. I'm not trying to estabilish a record, but probably right now I might stand 5 minutes before the body is paralyzed.


The visible aftereffects are a few withe fingers for a few minutes, especially those fingers which had some trauma in the recent past.


I do not use soap nor shampoo at all. I've not been using them for months now, I do that in the summer though (not always) or I'd do that in presence of greasy dirt. Skin is all right.


The cold shower sure increases resistance to cold air.

Edited by mccoy
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For those who'd like to start: it's best done from the fall, in a progressive way, stomach rigorously empty, those who suffer conditions related to high pressure should probably avoid it.


Wim hof has a short clip on cold showers, I don't remember where though maybe in his site.

Googling 'wim hof cold showers' on Utube quite a few vids show up of people practicing it.


The body gets accustomed to that. There is a point where the cold is no more there, you feel you can stay as long as you wish (I don't know how long  hypothermia requires to kick in). People dive into frozen lakes and a cold shower is really nothing compared to that.


I dry up and stay in a warm environment after for a while. Fingers still a little white.


Then if I'm out of home I'll dress as little as possible. If going out with my wife she pretends not to know me , LOL

Edited by mccoy
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My latest:


When I take my cold shower, I use no soap. That's even better for the skin (soap emulsifies your natural oils -- not good for the skin.


Of course, this only works when the skin is not soiled -- if there is filth on your skin, you need soap.


-- Saul

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Gordo!


Very good!


BTW, another reason for not to use soap -- you don't want to mess up your skin microbiome -- soap washes away the good symbiotic bacteria (and perhaps other symbiotic microorganisms -- possibly archaea and/or fungi [maybe even viruses?] -- that naturally keep the skin of all mammals -- including ours -- healthy.


-- Saul

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  • 1 year later...

Gordo: I haven’t used soap or shampoo or anything but water when showering for years now...

‘I don’t smell!’ Meet the people who have stopped washing 

A growing number of people are eschewing soap and trusting bacteria to do the job instead – and an entire industry has sprung up to accommodate them



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