The solution? A simple at-home device known as a humidifier, that helps to regulate the moisture levels in the air. Traditional humidifiers rely on a tank of water, which boils to emit steam into the air, while more advanced devices use ultrasonic vibrations to create water vapour for a more hygienic and a safer option.
Sore throat? Dry skin? These types of health complaints might be common in the colder months, but did you know that many cases could be down to the low levels of indoor humidity that occurs during winter? No, nor did we.
It turns out, central heating can decrease the moisture levels in the air around us, resulting in reduced mucus membranes in our nasal cavaties, and therefore an increased susceptibility to colds and allergy tiggers.
Plus, exposure to dry conditions can also leave our skin feeling dry and even lead to cracking and chapped lips.
We ask the experts for everything you need to know about how the humble humidifier could be the skincare solution you have always hoped for.
What are the skin benefits?
“Air humidifiers are used as a way of helping us control the harsh weather and elements around us,” explains Abbey Conley, Aesthetician at skincare and beauty destination, Young LDN. “In winter or dry months, our skin can often get zapped of all hydration and natural oils, leaving our lipid barrier impaired, chapped and feeling tight or dry. Using a humidifier regularly can help to restore the skin’s natural functions, helping to hydrate the skin and regulate an under active or overactive sebum production.”
Dr. MJ Rowland-Warmannl, cosmetic skin doctor, agrees, and says humidifiers can even help boost the skin’s defences to external aggressors like pollution. “Air humidifiers can improve the balance between the skin and its surroundings and prevent excess water loss through the surface of the skin. This benefits the barrier and makes it more effective in protecting you from the environment,” she says.
“When there are rapid changes in temperature such as coming inside into a warm environment from the cold, water will evaporate more quickly from the skin. This is made worse by the fact that in cold weather the humidity decreases, further affecting the barrier function.”
What types of skin can benefit?
According to Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann, humidifiers can be used to alleviate the symptoms of a number of skin conditions including rosacea, psoriasis and dry skin. “These conditions can all flare up as a result of dry air, especially in winter, when noses and lips can become dry and chapped, humidifiers can significantly improve these symptoms,” she says.”
Abbey also recommends humidifiers for dehydrated skins, or those with over or under-active oil production, as the skin sometimes overcompensates due to dry conditions.
How long do the benefits take to appear?
For those who love instant gratification, the benefits of humidifiers can be enjoyed almost instantly. “As it immediately changes the quality of the air, humidifiers act very quickly,” says Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann. “It will take several hours for the humidity in the room to change but we are taking hours, not days or weeks. Keeping the air constant is important as skin is just as sensitive to fluctuations as it is to extremes.”
What else should someone with dry skin be sure to try?
“For people with dry skin I recommend moisturisers with good barrier properties to decrease the trans-epithelial water loss,” explains Dr MJ Rowland-Warmnn. “That’s a technical term for the amount of moisture escaping from the surface of the skin. In people with dry and flakey skin already, this can be increased as the barrier properties of their skin are already compromised, leading to increased water loss.”
Another option is a course of professional treatments; “In addition to using an air humidifier, I would recommend regular hydrating salon- based hydrating facials, a good at home skin care routine and a regular consultation with a skin care specialist,” recommends Abbey.