I Took Cold Showers For 30 Days For Better Hair

Photographed by Tory Rust.
After recently dyeing my hair back to my natural brown after three grueling months living as a bleach blonde, my strands were in need of some major TLC. They were dry, brittle, and rough to the touch. Before going down the chemical-color path, I had soft, glossy waves. After, I was left with hay-like curls that would snarl and tangle when I ran my fingers through them. I found a shampoo and conditioner combo from Kevin Murphy that has become a true friend, but it wasn't enough. My hair looked bad — and as a beauty editor, that was not gonna fly. That's when I started hearing the same thing from just about every hairstylist I spoke to: "Try rinsing your hair with cold water." It seemed way too simple a solution to be effective (though, I suppose, a cold shower isn't exactly pleasant), but as the chorus singing its praises grew, I figured I had to give it a go. Cold water, I learned, works on your hair the same way it does on your skin. When you wash your face, it's suggested that you rinse with cool water, as the chill contracts your pores, making them appear smaller. When it comes to your hair, cold water helps to seal your hair cuticle, making it lay smoothly. A smoother hair cuticle better reflects light, giving your hair the appearance of shine. Hitting yourself with a chilly burst of water after a warm-and-cozy shower is no walk in the park. It's akin to taking the ice bucket challenge every time you wash your hair — except ALS research doesn't benefit this time around. I lathered up with shampoo, conditioned my ends, and then turned my shower dial to frigid. And let me tell you — a shot of espresso doesn't compare with that wake-up jolt. After my first wash and rinse, I blew my hair dry and curled it with an iron (I know, I know, not the healthiest for my damaged strands). And...my hair still felt like the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. I knew this was bullshit, I grumbled to myself before heading in to work. But once I got into the office, people started telling me how good my hair looked. "It seems shinier — are you using a different product?" beauty director Cat Quinn asked. And I swear, she didn't know I had started the challenge. Turns out, even though I couldn't see it, my hair was apparently reflecting more light than it had before. Over the next few weeks, I continued to shiver in the shower in order to see if the effects of the rinse were cumulative. I don't know if it was because my shampoo and conditioner started working their magic, if my straw hair finally buckled under the nourishing touch of the many masks I saturated it with, or if the cool water really was the secret, but my texture started improving. By a lot. The change isn't completely obvious — I doubt anyone would comment on my hair the way they have about my skin post-dairy — but I noticed the difference. So even though it's starting to get cold AF out there, I plan on shivering in my shower through fall. If anything, it will save me some money on coffee.

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