Longer days, sunny skies, and warmer temperatures are all things most people look forward to in the summer. But in some locales, those extra degrees come with an extreme twist: humidity.
Humidity is the measurement of water vapor in the air—folks who live in states like Louisiana are no strangers to hot, muggy summer days that feel like wading through soup. And depending on your skin type and how you care for it, humidity can either have a beneficial or adverse effect on the health of your skin. Before the temperatures spike and you start scrambling around for ways to care for your skin amidst all that surplus water vapor, here’s what you should know about humidity and how it can affect your skin.
Human skin needs a perfect moisture balance to thrive. Too much can create a hospitable environment for bacteria to proliferate. Excessive sweating is one side effect of humid atmospheric conditions that can clog the pores and cause irritation, which then manifests as acne or heat rash.
The first step towards avoiding these issues is to understand your skin. This means knowing what type it is, how best to care for it, and any possible ingredients that may cause reactions. Keep your skin clean and use products that are best suited to the climate, e.g., selecting a gel-type hyaluronic acid for oily skin. You could also add chemical exfoliants to your routine, as the accelerated cell turnover can reduce the likelihood of acne by preventing the pores from becoming clogged by sebum and dead skin cells.
Humidity can be incredibly pesky when it comes to hair too, causing perfectly coiffed hairstyles to pouf up in the moist heat and lose their definition. It’s a problem I frequently encountered when I used to wear my hair loose. Many curly-haired people can attest to this annual problem. To keep your twist-outs and curly styles intact and frizz-free, use a styling product that offers a flexible but humidity-resistant hold.
A moisture-rich atmosphere can be a godsend for dry skin, which typically struggles to retain hydration. It’s like Mother Nature’s sheet mask. All that moisture prevents typically dry or dehydrated skin from flaking and helps it to feel soothed. Those who suffer from conditions like psoriasis and eczema reportedly experience less discomfort in humid environments, due to a stabilization of the skin’s moisture levels.
More sweating can lead to natural detoxification of your body’s largest organ as any toxins will be eliminated along with sweat. One other benefit of humidity for the skin is that it creates conditions conducive to healthy aging. Aside from sun damage, moisture loss is another factor that contributes to premature aging. The hydration derived from humidity penetrates deep into the layers of the skin and replenishes its moisture reserves, plumping skin on a cellular level.
To make the most out of this situation, ensure that the products in your skincare routine contain humectants that will act as hydration magnets, pulling moisture from the air into your skin to hydrate it deep down. Examples are glycerin, hyaluronic acid, honey, and aloe vera.
How does humidity affect your skin, and what do you do about it?