We’ve been in winter for a few months now so it’s a great time to discuss how humidifiers affect dry skin. Recently, I woke up with a scratchy throat, dry skin and a stuffy nose. It scared the pajeebees out of me since, as I write this, we’re still in the pandemic. Then I remembered my clothes having static electricity when they came out of the dryer the previous day and I shouted “dry air!”. My next step was to run into the kitchen and place a pot of water on the stove to simmer. Ahh, the beauty of steaming water. Within 24 hours all of my dry air symptoms were gone.
Balancing Moisture in the Air
Depending on where you live you may need to balance the moisture in the air of your home. Growing up on the east coast I always had a humidifier running in the winter and dehumidifier in the summer. I could always tell when it was time to drag out the humidifier by how much static electricity zapped me while getting dressed. I think the summer months were the most frustrating because I worked in the beauty industry and my makeup had to be en pointe. It felt as if I were trying to apply a full face of makeup while sitting in a steam room. By the time I walked to the car my face was sliding. I digress. The point is that sometimes it’s necessary and beneficial to balance the moisture in your environment.
What is Humidity
Humidity is the measurement of water found in the air. When the weather is warmer, water will evaporate from bodies of water in the region. The warm air will hold onto the evaporated water and make it feel as heavy as it does in a steam room. The hotter it gets the more water vapor the air can hold, making it humid. On the flip side, if there’s no body of water in the area then the warm air becomes like a dry sauna –think of the Mojave Desert.
What is Static Electricity
Did you know that low humidity can promote static electricity? You’ve probably experienced light sparks of static electricity when you’ve touched someone or pulled your overly-dry clothes out of the dryer. Static electricity comes from the build-up of electrical charge. The “spark” that you feel is essentially the transfer of electrons. In the air, negative and positive charges are constantly moving around. When the air is dry, these charges flow into nearby conductors. Our bodies are mostly water, therefore, are good conductors of electricity. The fabrics on your clothing are also good conductors. Moisture in the air helps to disperse and reduce static electricity by acting as a conductor. When the air is humid, the electricity flows through the water molecules in the air, rather than your clothing and skin.
Sparks from static electricity are mostly harmless to your health. However, these sparks can be dangerous to sensitive electronics and flammable gasses. For example, there is a risk, while rather low, that a static electricity spark may ignite gasoline vapors while filling your tank.
Tip: To reduce static electricity in your dryer try tossing in a moist washcloth during the final few minutes to add a bit of humidity back into the environment.
A Balance of Water
Humidity measures how much water is in the air. Too little humidity and the skin becomes dry, brittle, and cracked because moisture is quickly evaporated from the skin’s surface. Too little humidity can also cause your pores to fill up with oil and debris, as it’s harder for your pores to clean themselves out without moisture (think sweating).
Moderation is key when it comes to knowing how humidifiers affect dry skin. Exposure to high levels of humidity for a long period of time may create an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria on your skin. Very low or very high humidity levels may exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea.
A short burst of high-humidity in the form of steam can be good for your skin. This can be as simple as heating a pot of water and gently wafting the steam towards your face. You can read my previous post on DIY facials which also goes into detail about at-home steamers. Giving yourself an occasional facial can help open up and clear out your pores. The Cherry-O Balm would be a beneficial addition to your DIY facial to soothe dry, brittle, and cracked skin.
When to Use a Dehumidifier
It’s a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier when you live in a place that feels damp. For example, you may notice condensation on your windows or you see moisture stains on the ceiling. Using a dehumidifier to remove the excess water out of the air will create a healthier environment. You have to constantly watch it since it can fill up quickly depending on how damp it is. Some of the larger more expensive options come with hoses and auto shut-offs and drains.
The ideal indoor humidity level is 45%. The EPA recommends keeping your home between 30-60%. You can purchase a small thermostat magnet with a humidity gauge and check it periodically. All in all, skin likes to be drier rather than moist–bacteria thrives in a moist environment, so keeping the air balanced and leaning towards dry will be your best bet.
Hopefully, you gained some insight into how humidifiers affect dry skin. Thank you for reading The Freckle blog! Please subscribe to stay informed of all things relating to skin care. Also, check out my website and YouTube channel for product news and recommendations.
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Photos by Jen Theodore, Sharon McCutcheon, Amos from Stockphotos.com and Patrick Hendry on Unsplash