Is Humidity Good for Skin?

You may have noticed changes in your skin as the seasons change or when you travel coastbound from inland or vice versa. These changes are your skin’s reactions to the humidity levels. Your skin naturally produces oils to protect its many layers. Without enough moisture, your skin can dry out and become flaky and itchy. These symptoms are not only uncomfortable but can also be harmful to your skin health.

However, in excess, humidity can also have negative effects on your skin and your overall health. For one, too much sweating can clog up your pores. Other effects of high humidity also include allergies due to mold spores and dust mites. To ensure your health and comfort no matter the climate and season, it’s always best to keep humidity levels within the recommended range.

What is Humidity?

Where there’s water and heat, there is always some amount of vapor present in the air. What we measure as the relative humidity (RH) is the ratio of the actual amount of vapor present in the air relative to the maximum amount it could hold at a given temperature. 

When the actual air temperature reaches the dew point or the temperature at which the air achieves cannot hold any more vapor, the relative humidity becomes 100 percent. In other words, the air can hold more water molecules at a higher temperature. 

Thus, when the air is colder while the moisture levels remain the same, the humidity level increases. Conversely, when the air is warmer while moisture levels remain the same, the humidity decreases. Even so, high humidity is more common during the hottest days of the year. 

Too much or too little humidity can have negative effects on your health and surrounding. To maintain your comfort, the ideal range of relative humidity is from 30% to 50%. Anything below 30% is considered too low. This is especially common during winter, leading to cold and flu symptoms. 

On the other hand, relative humidity above 50% can trigger allergies and cause difficulties in breathing. Furthermore, high relative humidity is high can make the air feel hotter. Meanwhile, during winter, low humidity can make it feel even colder. That’s why it’s important to control the relative humidity according to the ambient temperature. 

is humidity good for skin

How Does Humidity Affect Your Skin?

Low Humidity

Humidity greatly affects moist and porous surfaces including the skin, hair, and eyes. Dry skin and chapped lips are often signs of low humidity levels. Dry air absorbs your skin’s natural oils, causing it to dry out and leaving the outer layers with less protection. Prolonged exposure to dry air can cause the cracking and flaking of your skin, which gets worse with scratching.

In more severe cases, low humidity can lead to dehydration, nosebleeds, sinus infections, and aggravated allergies. If you have an existing skin condition like eczema, dry air can only make it worse. 

Cracking and peeling of the skin are not only unpleasant, but the effects of low humidity also put you at greater risk of skin infections and disease-causing viruses. Also, when the skin is dehydrated, fine lines and wrinkles may appear more prominent.

itchy dry skin

High Humidity

On the other hand, too much humidity makes hot temperatures feel even hotter. When it’s humid, you may feel that the air is too heavy or sticky to the skin. This is because it is already saturated with moisture and cannot further absorb your sweat to help you cool down. Besides being extremely uncomfortable, this can also be harmful to your skin’s pores.

Depending on your skin type, excessive sweating can lead to other skin problems such as the development of heat rashes. These red welts on the skin occur when your sweat glands get blocked and trap sweat. They can develop anywhere in the body when you feel hot and sweat a lot, and they can be itchy and uncomfortable. 

Sweat can get trapped in your skin pores when they close, and along with it a buildup of oil, dirt, and makeup. When your pores get clogged up, it can lead to acne. There are different types of acne, but it’s typically itchy and uncomfortable. At worst, it can get infected and cause painful swelling. However, genetics and hormones are usually bigger factors that contribute to acne development.

Is High Humidity Good For Your Skin?

Moisture is good for the skin. In fact, sweating and releasing oils are natural processes that your skin does to cool off your body and stay hydrated. However, too much and too little of something is almost always a bad idea. Both too-high and too-low humidity levels can have negative effects on your skin.

For instance, lack of humidity can cause dry, itchy skin, which may flake and crack. Meanwhile, high humidity can cause excessive sweating, which may lead to heat rash and acne breakout. High humidity can also cause frizzy hair and make curls harder to tame.

It’s good to keep your skin hydrated, but only at optimal humidity levels. You can adjust your ideal humidity depending on the ambient temperature and your own preference. 

How Do You Treat Your Skin In Humid Weather?

Firstly, it’s important to know your skin type and how it reacts to your environment. As we discussed above, warm and humid environments can have different effects from dry conditions. The skin’s reactions also vary per person. You must determine whether you have oily, dry, or normal skin, and whether you are prone to acne, clogged pores, and fine lines. 

Understanding your skin type helps you choose the best skin care products and take the right precautions for extreme humidity levels. If you’re in a humid environment, you may follow the tips below.

First, always keep your skin clean. If you have oily or combination skin, high humidity can cause more damage than good to your skin pores. Cleanse your skin as often as needed to prevent acne breakouts or skin rashes due to pores clogged up with sweat, oil, dirt, and other debris using a non-comedogenic product. If you have acne-prone skin, use cleansers that contain salicylic acid and/or benzoyl peroxide to help prevent breakouts.

To keep your skin clean, avoid touching your face without first washing or sanitizing your hands. 

The skin typically perspires more in high-humidity areas. Touching your face spreads dirt and bacteria from your hands to your face, which can clog up your pores and lead to breakouts. Keep your hands clean and away from unnecessarily touching your face.

To remove the buildup of sweat, oils, dead skin, and dirt, you must exfoliate your skin at least once or twice a week to every other night. Use exfoliants formulated with AHAs and BHAs that help remove dead skin cells and keep your pores clean, preventing acne breakouts and oily skin. You may also exfoliate your skin with a homemade scrub.

You must also moisturize your skin no matter the humidity level. When exposed to high humidity conditions, choose a light moisturizer that keeps your skin soft and hydrated but not too much so that it clogs your skin pores.

Give yourself weekly facials to unclog your pores from the oil, sweat, dead skin cells, and product buildup. Facial steam also works great in opening your pores and cleaning them before exfoliation. You can also use a facial mask to absorb excess oil and hydrate your skin.

How Do You Treat Your Skin in Low Humidity?

The best way to fight dry climates is to give your skin more moisture. If you feel your skin is getting too dry, mist it. You can get this product and take it anywhere you need so you can keep your skin looking fresh and hydrated even when traveling.

Both air conditioning and heating can dry out your skin. In this case, a good addition to your HVAC is a humidifier. It helps balance the humidity levels during dry seasons by adding moisture to the air. It’s particularly helpful during winter.

Low humidity levels can make your skin appear dull and dehydrated. It can also kill your skin cells faster and increase the buildup of dead skin cells that can clog your pores. You must exfoliate at least one to two times a week to clean your pores

Again, moisturize! If your skin is regularly exposed to low humidity, it may become dry and itchy, leading to flaking or cracking. To prevent this, use a rich moisturizer after cleansing your skin. You may also apply a body lotion or body butter to protect your skin from dryness.

Finally, hydrate yourself. The social media influencers aren’t entirely wrong when they say that drinking lots of water helps with clear, healthy skin. Stay hydrated by drinking water and eating a balanced diet. You may also use products to help hydrate your skin.

Bottom Line

Both high and low humidity have different effects on your skin. These are natural processes, but too much or too little moisture can be bad depending on the individual. In excess, humidity can cause the overproduction of sebum, clogged pores, and acne breakouts. On the other hand, low humidity can dry out the skin. 

It’s essential to maintain balanced humidity levels. In general, a range of 30% to 50% is recommended. However, there are instances when extreme humidity levels cannot be entirely avoided. You can protect your skin from potentially harmful effects if you know your skin type and its needs, and use suitable products. No matter the humidity, you must always keep your skin clean and properly hydrated.

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