I've noticed that in the past week, most of the beauty bloggers I follow have mentioned in one way or another that the cold, cold winter has wreaked havoc on their skin... I'm glad it's not just me!
If your skin has got to the point where literally no amount of exfoliation and moisturiser can make it look and feel normal, you might want to consider a humidifier. I bought one in October after one day gasping out loud at my reflection after washing and drying my face. My skin was so dry and tight, I hardly recognised myself. I looked like some kind of dried fruit delicacy. I have dry skin anyway, but that was just crazy dry... and the hard water in London really doesn't help. And if that wasn't bad enough, I kept waking up with ultra dry eyes too. Sometimes they were so dry, it hurt to open them.
Then I found myself wishing I was in a humid climate just so I wasn't so dependent on moisturiser and eye drops. As well as for obvious reasons, I love being on holiday in places like the Caribbean because the humidity means that my skin feels amazingly moisturised and supple, even without moisturiser.
That was how I ended up getting a humidifier. Sure I can make my skin look ok with a moisturiser (Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Cream-Mask specifically), but it's just not the same knowing that as soon as I wash off the moisturiser, my skin will be all grey and flaky again.
Apparently the optimum relative humidity indoors is between 45-55%. But since the cold snap started here, it's been going down to between 20-30% (I bought a cheap hygrometer from eBay... and have since become a humidity nerd, sorry). If I don't have my humidifier on, I can really notice the dry air. The skin on my hands feels more like tissue paper than human skin, and the air feels dry to breathe. I've even had a full-on nosebleed from the dry air this winter!
The reason why the air is so dry in winter is because cold air can't hold as much moisture, and then we have central heating on as well... so it's doubly bad. When the air is dry, it'll try to regulate itself by grabbing moisture from anything it can find... including our skin, eyes, lips, clothes etc. So it is literally sapping natural moisture from us.
So does a humidifier make a difference to dry skin? Yes it really, really does. I don't know how I would have coped this winter without my humidifier! It looks a bit weird in the house (my fiancé despairs of my multiplying household gadgets... Dulux PaintPod anybody?) but I love it. I have it on overnight too.
You can get a decent humidifier reasonably cheap these days... £30 even. I regret paying so much for mine (~£170 for an Air-O-Swiss E2441)... I always get drawn into technical specifications and end up wanting most expensive option. But as long as a humidifier gets moisture back into the air, it should be fine.
Questions I asked myself, and researched before getting a humidifier:
Will it make everything in my house mouldy?
- Most humidifiers have a built-in way to keep the humidity at an optimum level so it'll never be too humid.
- It has benefits for the house too. Apparently dry air is bad for wood furniture and flooring because it makes wood prone to cracks, and it also accelerates wear and tear in soft furnishings.
- Nope, unless the humidity has gone way above optimum, dry air is much worse for you because it'll dry out nasal membranes and thus make the body more susceptible to infection.
- Steam humidifiers use the most energy because they need to keep the water at boiling point.
- Ultrasonic humidifiers are the most popular because they're silent, cheap to run and don't require filters.
- I chose an evaporative humidifier because I was worried about the white dust that can be a side effect of ultrasonic humidifiers, but now I regret it because the filters are expensive and need replacing more frequently than I thought.
- It depends on how much of the day it's switched on, but I think mine's adding about 5 litres of moisture into the air in total day and night. I do have it on a lot at the moment though.
Ok I will stop going on about humidifiers now before your eyes glaze over if they haven't already... but it's something to think about if your skin has got to the stage where no moisturiser helps anymore.