Cold Rinsing for Shiny Hair: Does It Really Work?


There are tons of beauty myths out there, many of which we’ve all accepted as fact. But as I stepped out of my nightly (or, you know, weekly) hair washing session, I couldn’t help but wonder if turning the knob to cold and blasting my strands with frigid water was really the secret to shiny hair. I’ve been told that it closes the hair cuticle, which somehow equates to glossier strands. But does this really work? Do we really have to shiver for the sake of beauty? I sat down with Halli Bivona of the John Barrett Salon to find out.

“Some clients and stylists swear by the ‘cool rinse’ and will endure a shot of cold water at the end of every shower,” Bivona explained. She continued, “I’m here to tell you that you may not need to do that. Unfortunately, there is not enough definitive research to say this 100% works. But, there is enough to prove that the hair cuticle does not independently open and close. What determines whether your hair is shiny or not depends on hair swell. Hair swell is exactly what it sounds like—warmer water temperatures swell the hair, which in turn raises the cuticle. When the cuticle is raised, the strand becomes more porous (which disrupts the way light reflects off the hair). Hair swell occurs when the water temperature is between medium and hot, and the hair remains neutral between cool and room temperatures.”

Eureka! So, I’m saying sayonara to the cold rinse. But what does make the hair shinier? Bivona weighed in: “The best way to increase shine is to use warm water when shampooing—it helps to break up dirt and oil from your scalp and helps to activate the conditioner. After rinsing the conditioner from your hair, turn the water to room temperature, and rinse your hair for a few minutes. This helps to reduce hair swell, which will help the cuticle remain smooth. In short, a cooler temperature does help, but you don’t have to freeze in the shower to achieve shiny, lustrous hair.”

Molton Brown’s Plum-Kadu conditioner detoxifies and detangles lackluster hair, keeping it shiny and healthy with each rinse.

Molton Brown Plum-kadu Glossing Conditioner $30

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