“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”: That classic summer complaint holds doubly true for skin. Heat might make you sweat more, but it’s the humidity that can wreak havoc on your complexion. With the summer months in full swing, it’s important to be aware of how the weather affects your unique skin type, and how you can adjust your skincare routine to temper the effects of high humidity on skin.
Humidity refers to the amount of water molecules in the air. When it’s humid, there’s more ambient moisture in the air for you to soak in, leaving skin feeling softer to the touch. “Dry skin loves humidity,” says Victoria Collotta, expert aesthetician and general manager of Silk Therapeutics. “People with dry skin might notice that their moisturizer works even better now. On top of the moisture in the air, their skin is more receptive to the ingredients in their products.”
But those with combination or oily skin often have a more complex relationship with humidity. Oily skin in humid weather tends to take on a sheen, leaving your complexion feeling more greasy than dewy. “People with oily skin might find themselves overusing the blotting tissues,” Collotta says. In addition to shine, sunscreen and sweat can clog pores, causing breakouts. Left untreated, clogged pores can even trigger heat rash.
Between dry skin’s love of humidity and oily skin’s reaction to it, it might be tempting to forgo moisturizer when it’s swampy outside. But without moisturizer, your skin is likely to overproduce sebum, which can exacerbate the problem and lead to clogged pores. Here’s how to balance your routine accordingly:
- Lighten up ... Generally speaking, switching to a lighter moisturizer will help to negate the effects of high humidity on skin. Swapping an intensive moisturizer like Hydra-Rich for a lightweight option like Nurture+ can help. Dryer skin types can pair it with a replenishing serum like Purely Radiant, and both layer well with sunscreen. You can also play around to see what works for you: Using Hydra-Rich just once or twice a week (or only at night) might help you hit your own dew point.
- ... But only if you want to! While breakouts and oily skin are common reactions to all the moisture in the air, everyone’s skin is different. If your spring routine still works for you in high summer, don’t feel obligated to switch things up. If you spend a lot of time in air-conditioned environments, you’re avoiding some of humidity’s effects — and in fact, you might find that the constant blast of air can dry out your skin.
- Mix and match your sunscreen and moisturizer. While it’s important to use sunscreen year-round, chances are you’re more conscious of it in the summer, and it can make you feel like you’re wearing a lot of goop on your face. If you’re breaking out, try a gel sunscreen along with a balancing moisturizer for a lighter feel.
- Treat your skin to a cocktail. Sure, have your poolside mojito (though be careful not to over-imbibe; alcohol doesn’t play well with your skin). But this bedtime skincare cocktail is great for all skin types in summer: one pump of Purely Radiant mixed with two drops of C Advance. Simply pat onto your skin, wait five minutes, then massage it in and head to bed. The double dose of hyaluronic acid will leave your complexion looking plump and healthy, while the vitamin C in C Advance helps to brighten skin’s appearance — counteracting signs of summer sun damage.