Cold Water Is the Affordable Secret to Healthy Shiny Hair

Professional hairstylists explain how to wash your hair with cold water for increased shine.

Woman With Shiny Hair
Photo: Getty Images

Summer beauty concerns are real. In addition to sweaty, greasy skin, frizzy hair feels inevitable. No matter what your hair type or whether you air-dried your hair or got it professionally done, hot and humid temperatures have a way of making flyaways and frizz more apparent.

If you're a devoted hair-care lover with an extensive list of all the hair styling creams, oils, and shine sprays and still aren't seeing a difference in your hair, try rinsing it with cold water the next time you take a shower. Turns out, using cold water on your hair is an underrated hair hack that can help you get shiny hair, according to professional hairstylists. Ahead, learn more about how it works.

Is Cold Water Good for Hair?

In short, yes cold water can help give you more shiny hair, but in order to understand how it works, you'll want to know a few basic facts about hair's structure. ICYDK, the hair strand is made up of three parts, according to the PeerJ Journal. The medulla is the center and it's covered by the cortex, which is the middle layer made of keratin proteins (aka the proteins that make up hair, skin, and nails). Then, the cuticle wraps around the cortex and is the outermost protective layer of the hair strand. (

The cuticle is made up of flat, overlapping cells that look like scales and can open and close, according to the PeerJ study. Whether the cuticle is open or closed has a direct impact on the look and feel of your hair. For example, hair can't retain moisture as well when the cuticles are open, so it can result in frizzy-looking strands, explains Rodney Cutler, a professional hairstylist, and Redken ambassador. Many factors can trigger the opening or closing of the cuticle, including genetics and external factors, such as — you guessed it — the temperature of the water.

While warm water opens the cuticle, cold water has the opposite effect. "Rinsing your hair with cold water will help smooth and close the cuticle," says Cutler. The cold water works to flatten those scale-like cells, which makes "light reflect easier" and, in turn, makes the hair look shiny, says Ona Diaz-Santin, a celebrity hairstylist. When the hair cuticle is closed, it promotes the look of softer and shiny hair because the cells are flattened and smooth, affirms Cutler. Additionally, cold water helps retain moisture unlike hot water which can strip the hair of the natural oils that give it a glossy look and feel, explains Alex Brown, a Chicago-based celebrity hairstylist, and owner of Space salon.

Another reason why cold water helps promote shine is that water that is too hot can "throw off the pH balance" in the hair and cause the cuticle to open, explains Santin. "The pros [of cold water] are that it detangles the hair easier (because the scale-like cells are flattened), leaves it shiny, and produces less frizz," she adds.

How to Make Hair Shiny With Cold Water

Rest assured, you don't need to take a cold shower in order to get shiny hair. Instead, it's best to do a quick rinse at the end of your shower.

"I wouldn't recommend washing with cold water because it is helpful to open the cuticle when washing hair, which happens with warm water," says Brown. "Warm water helps to remove any buildup which is really important for hair and scalp health. It [also] allows for thorough cleansing without being too harsh or stripping hair of all its natural oils." (

So, first opening the cuticle open allows for your products to deeply clean and penetrate the hair fibers. But then, running your hair through a cold shock of water helps close the cuticle and seal in moisture and all the hair-benefitting ingredients from your hair care.

Follow these steps for the best water-temperature method when washing your hair: "Use warm water to remove any kind of debris, one to two shampoos, depending on how long it's been since you've washed [your hair], then you're going to go ahead and add a conditioner [from] roots to ends," says Santin. "Massage [the product] in really well, using your fingers to detangle, and rinse with cold water to lock in the moisture. [The cold water] will smooth out the cuticle and help detangle easily." (

So, while hair products definitely help promote healthy, smooth, and shiny hair, this cold water hack might give your strands the extra boost it needs. The best part? It's easily accessible and free of charge.

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