Humid air — a sleek, shiny hair foe — is actually essential to dry complexions. “Typically humidity is better for the skin as it provides additional moisture to the skin whereas dry weather often depletes our skin of moisture,” explains Alissia Zenhausern, N.M.D., a naturopathic physician at NMD Wellness of Scottsdale.
And while drier weather might offer some relief — especially to those that are not accustomed to the added moisture — for dry skin types, humidity is your best friend. “I love humidity because it keeps my skin soft, hydrated and youthful-looking,” says Sunday Riley, CEO and founder of Sunday Riley Modern Skincare.
The skincare benefits of humidity
Hydration: Hydration can act as a saving grace for the skin. Thanks to its ability to quench the skin, the complexion feels soft, supple and more nourished in humid weather versus dry climates.
Less irritation: “People with dry skin thrive best in humid conditions as the added moisture can help the skin retain more water and reduce the flakiness of dry skin. If you notice your skin is flaking, this can be an indication that the skin is dehydrated,” says Zenhausern.
Due to our skin’s natural regeneration process, dry, dead skin cells lift away from the complexion naturally. However, flakiness starts to occur when the skin regenerates faster than usual. “If you have itchy, red, dry skin, the humidity will help,” says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. When the skin is in a more humid environment, it tends to feel more soothed due to the higher levels of moisture, which can result in calmer, less irritated skin. Those with psoriasis and eczema “seem to do best with humid environments,” adds Zenhausern.
Cellular Turnover: When you think of humidity, the last thing you probably think of is skin rejuvenation. But, as it turns out, a moisture-rich climate can lead to that, too. “The moisture in the air promotes skin cell turnover,” explains Jaliman. “This means that your skin will be brighter because there are less dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your skin.” When the skin is properly moisturized, the regeneration process progresses in a more natural rhythm that allows the skin to shed dead skin cells without flakiness, leaving behind a glowing complexion.
Toxin Removal: High humidity can get a tad sweaty which, according to Zenhausern, is a good thing. “Not only will damp air help the skin retain more moisture, but it will also help your skin remove unwanted toxins. With our skin being a major organ of detoxification, sweating can be a great way to eliminate toxins from the body, not just the skin.”
Anti-Aging: Lack of moisture tends to showcase the effects of aging, creating deeper lines and less plumped skin. So, for those concerned about fine lines, wrinkles and other premature signs of aging, humidity can help the complexion appear more supple, radiant and youthful. The additional moisture in the air helps plump it up by blurring the visual signs of aging and creating an all-around glow.
As with all good things, humid weather does have its downsides. For starters, those with oily or acne-prone complexions might get hit harder with their repercussions. “When humidity is high, [the] skin tends to produce more sebum. This can lead to clogged pores [which] means more chances of a breakout,” says Jaliman. “Higher humidity can breed more bacteria on your skin,” she adds. If you have oily skin, there are ways to keep your breakouts at bay when humidity strikes. “If your skin is oily and humidity makes it worse, you can use salicylic acid, [which] helps remove extra dirt and oils from your skin and reduce the number of dead skin cells that clog pores,” Jaliman suggests.
Skincare Products for Humidity
Whether you have dry or oily, acne-prone skin, switching your products during humid months — and with the seasons — is key to keeping your complexion clear and reaping the benefits of higher moisture levels.
“If you have drier skin, you’ll want to use a great humectant moisturizer or serum, like Sunday Riley C.E.O. Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, sodium PCA and propanediol (Zemea) to pull water into your skin, without leaving a heavy residue,” says Riley. “If you have oilier skin, you may feel your skin gets more congested in humidity. The trick is to exfoliate regularly with an AHA [alpha hydroxy acid]. This will remove the pore-clogging dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, which can create layers of buildup during humid months. You can lightly hydrate with a humectant moisturizer afterward and combat buildup within your pores with salicylic acid. A retinoid will also help to keep your skin clear and bright during more humid months.”
“I would suggest thoroughly cleansing twice a day, and clearing away dead skin cells with Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment every morning,” says Riley. “If you have oily skin, apply U.F.O. Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Oil in the evenings, followed with a touch of Tidal. If you have drier skin, apply a great, nutrient-dense oil like C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C Face Oil or Luna Sleeping Night Oil, follow with a touch of A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum and finish by smoothing Tidal on before going to sleep.
In addition to these tips, here are some other skincare products for humidity.
Facial mist: “A facial mist is great for humid weather,” says Jaliman. “Spritzing your face with a skin-nourishing mist can soothe, refresh and invigorate your skin in no time,” she adds. And, not only is it cooling, but a facial mist can also help dry skin by locking in moisture, utilizing the humid air around you even more. When shopping for a facial mist, Jaliman recommends looking for a formula with rosewater as “it has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the redness of irritated skin.”
Hyaluronic acid serum: Hyaluronic acid works as a humectant, pulling in moisture from the air to keep your skin hydrated. If you are looking for a good, hydrating serum to use in humid weather, Jaliman recommends a hyaluronic acid serum. “It hydrates without clogging pores or adding any extra oil to the face,” she adds.
Natural skin oils: If you have dry skin, you might still be able to benefit from deep-nourishing natural oils like jojoba or coconut oil, as they will “dry on your skin without an oily residue,” explains Jaliman. Face oils shine in humid weather because you can swap out your thick winter moisturizer for a light-weight product. “Oil is a good way to hydrate your dry skin in the humidity without all those extra heavy ingredients [such as shea butter] that cream has.”
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