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The impact of humidity on skin
Something I am asked quite regularly is if low humidity can dry out the skin. The answer is yes it can. However, it really depends on your skin. There are 4 skin types: normal, dry, combination and oily. According to the (AAD American Academy of Dermatology) sensitive skin is a skin type too, however some would say all skin is sensitive and I somewhat agree. Dehydrated skin is not a skin type, but a (temporary) condition. Your skin type is pretty much set for life and not changing with the seasons. There is an exception as normal, oily or combination skin may become dry(er) post-menopause. The environment, including temperatures and humidity impact our skin significantly.
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. If there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the humidity will be high. A relative humidity of 70 percent means the air is at 70 percent of its water-holding capacity for the present temperature. Cold air cannot hold as much water vapor as warm air. Thus, as temperature falls, with no change in the amount of water in the air, the relative humidity rises.
A study showed that in a dry environment the skin hydration decreases but the amount of sebum increases to compensate for skin dryness. (1)
High humidity can be beneficial if you have dry skin, however can cause problems if you have oily or combination skin. Low levels of humidity can negatively affect your skin, even when your skin is oily. In general high humidity levels has some benefits.
The increased levels of moisture in the air in high humidity decrease trans-epidermal-water loss of water evaporation from the skin. Hence, your skin is able to maintain it's hydration levels.
Increased cell regeneration
A moisture-rich climate can also promote skin cell turnover and desquamation (the shedding of dead skin cells). Skin’s regeneration process is increased when your skin is well hydrated. The shedding of dead skin cells is the last step in this cell-turnover or regeneration process and good desquamation leads to smoother texture and more radiant skin.
Fine lines and wrinkles are more noticeable if your skin lacks moisture and feels dry. Moreover, skin regeneration process declines as we age. Since high humidity positively contributes to hydration, lines and wrinkles are less pronounced and the regeneration process supported, therewith leading to more youthful looking skin.
Increased sebum production
If your skin is oily, high humidity (especially heat thus sweat) can increase sebum production. An overproduction of sebum, especially in combination or oily skin types can make your skin oily and greasy. Moreover, dirt and irritating particles may "stick" better to greasy skin.
Acne prone skin
Excess sebum and oil caused by high humidity (heat and sweat) increases the risk of clogged pores, break-outs and comedones (blackheads, and whiteheads).
Heat or sweat rash
Heat rash, or sometimes called prickly heat, sweat rash or miliaria, is a harmless but very itchy or prickling skin rash. It causes small red (raised) spots in places where sweat collects, such as the armpits, back, under the breasts, chest, groin, elbow creases and back of the knees, and the waist. Although uncomfortable, it is usually harmless and improves on its own after a few days.
Tips to take care of your skin in humid conditions
Low levels of humidity most commonly negatively affect your skin.
Decrease skin regeneration
When your skin is not well hydrated, the skin's regeneration process including shedding of dead skin cells is impaired. This can lead to a more dull, rough or even flaky skin.
Your skin can get dehydrated or deprived of moisture when exposed to low humidity levels and the skin looks less radiant or glowing.
Sings of ageing
When your skin lacks moisture, the skin is less plump and wrinkles, fine lines become more visible.
Worsening of skin conditions
If you have eczema or another problematic impaired barrier related skin condition, low humidity can cause flare-ups. It can also cause or worsen dry skin symptoms like redness, scaliness, rough texture, cracks, itchiness, stinging, burning and the skin might be more prone to irritation and infection.
Tips to care care of your skin in low humidity
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