One moment we're being advised to soak in hot baths for the sake of our health; the next, someone is suggesting an Arctic plunge in ice water.
We decided to tap into the wisdom of North London-based facialist Ingrid Raphael and ask, 'What is the ideal temperature for our skin?' Ingrid gets straight to it: 'The perfect middle ground for all skin types and conditions is lukewarm.' It may not be the revelation you anticipated, but there's more to consider.
What about the notion that hot water opens up pores, providing a deep clean for your face? Does this signal an end to hot cloth cleansing? Ingrid dispels the myth, explaining that pores aren't akin to dramatic doors that swing open and closed. She points out, "One cannot 'close' pores—there are no muscles attached to them, so they are unable to move or shift shape."
Considering the effects of water temperature on vasoconstriction and vasodilation, Ingrid emphasises that excessively cold water causes the muscles around blood vessels to tighten, while hot water does the opposite, opening up blood vessels. Warning that the constant cycle of constriction and dilation can lead to long-term skin issues. Hot water, she adds, can strip the skin of protective oils crucial for retaining moisture.
Ultimately our skin longs for calmness, favouring some peace and quiet over the drama of hot versus cold. The straightforward solution is a simple blend of the two, with lukewarm water emerging as the true hero.