Have you ever noticed that your skin feels different from season to season? Or, have you ever noticed the changes in your skin when you travel to a place with a different climate?
This could be your skin’s way of reacting to humidity.
What is humidity?
Places with different climates also experience varying levels of humidity. Humidity is the presence of water vapor in the air. It happens when water evaporates and rises into the atmosphere. There are usually higher levels of humidity in warmer climates because heat increases the amount of water vapor air can hold.
Besides the weather, air conditioners and heaters can also affect levels of humidity. Most ACs work by taking out heat from the air and dehumidifying the space to get a cooler temperature. No, you are not imagining it, your skin does feel different when you are in an air-conditioned room versus a warm space with no proper ventilation.
How does humidity affect our skin?
Our skin is our body’s natural layer of protection against the elements. It acts as both a filter and a barrier by letting moisture and nutrients in and keeping all the harmful elements out. For it to function properly, it needs to have a balanced level of hydration and natural oils. Hot, humid air encourages moisture and oil production and dry, cool air does the opposite.
Experiencing higher or lower levels of humidity can affect your skin differently. Both bring about their own set of skin issues.
During humid weather, the air gets saturated with water and sweat evaporates slowly. This can help maintain hydration in the skin. When the skin is properly hydrated, it feels softer and looks more supple because hydration keeps our skin nourished and our cells healthier. It actually slows down skin aging.
Healthier skin also means less sensitivity and irritation. Our skin is able to boot out the bad elements and rejuvenate faster when it can sweat properly.
But, high levels of humidity can also bring bad news to our skin.
Because sweat evaporates slowly with high humidity, our body has a harder time keeping itself cool. This is the perfect opportunity for heat rashes to occur. Too much sweating can block our sweat ducts causing moisture to get trapped beneath the surface of the skin.
To avoid getting heat rashes, it is best to take regular showers to unclog pores and sweat ducts. This releases the trapped moisture below the skin’s surface and helps our skin cool down from all the heat. During humid weather, it is also better to wear loose clothing and fabrics that are made from natural fibers like cotton.
Another skin issue brought about by humidity is skin breakouts. In higher humidity, the skin tends to produce more oil so pores get clogged up more easily.
Taking a daily bath and using a mild cleanser can get rid of the dirt, dead skin cells, and debris that builds up on your skin and ends up clogging your pores. After washing, use a light, water-based moisturizer to help your skin lock in moisture without the sticky feeling.
You can also use mild exfoliants to help your skin renew faster and absorb moisturizers better. But, take care not to over-exfoliate as this can actually trigger further oil production. Physical exfoliation should be limited to twice a week and chemical exfoliants should be done up to just three times a week.
Sweat evaporates quickly on dry days and gets rid of heat faster. This is not a good idea for our skin because it takes moisture away from it. House heaters can also contribute to causing dry skin. As mentioned earlier, air conditioners also cool spaces by taking out humidity so staying in cool, air-conditioned rooms can also have a drying effect on your skin.
Wind burns, dry, and cracked skin can occur when your skin is unable to maintain moisture. Skin conditions such as eczema can also crop up with low levels of humidity because of the lack of moisture.
Lack of hydration in the skin also causes premature aging. When your skin is all dried out, the cells suffer and get damaged. Collagen breaks down and you get wrinkles and sagging skin.
Nobody wants this.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do to take care of your skin during dry weather.
First, if you are going out in freezing weather, wear clothing that can protect you from the draft and keep your skin moist. Wear gloves, scarves, hats, and/or face masks to prevent wind burns from happening.
Second, avoid long, hot showers. It may be tempting to bathe in really hot water during colder days but hot water strips the skin off of the important natural oils that help maintain hydration. As much as possible, wash with lukewarm water and shorten shower times.
Be gentle to your skin as well. Use mild soaps or cleansers during your shower. If you need to exfoliate, choose a gentler method and be careful not to be too abrasive when using physical exfoliators.
After bathing, use lotion on your body and a good moisturizer on your face. You need to help your skin retain its moisture for softer, more supple skin.
Another thing you can do is drink lots of water and exercise. Encourage your skin to sweat the natural way. It is also a win-win since working out gets you both a healthier body and healthier skin.
High humidity can be helpful to dry skin and low humidity can be easier on oily skin. However, we need to be proactive about listening to what our skin needs and being able to adjust to its requirements no matter the climate. It is more practical to adjust your skincare habits rather than follow a more preferable climate for your skin. Just keep in mind that your skin always needs to maintain proper hydration and a little TLC every once in a while.