Conventional wisdom would suggest that living in a warm, sun-soaked climate like Florida would take the biggest toll on your skin. After all, it’s hard to escape wrinkles when you’re outside all day, basking in harmful UV rays. But new research shows cold, low-humidity climates can add years to your face, too. So even during the middle of the winter—when you are bundled in layers of fleece—the exposed skin on your face is still prone to fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and sagginess. Here’s how to protect your skin from harsh cold weather conditions.
The effects of low humidity on your skin
In the review of studies that appeared in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology, researchers looked at the impact of humidity on the skin. In order to determine the amount of humidity in the air, scientists measure relative humidity (RH) as opposed to absolute humidity. Relative humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air compared to the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold at any given temperature, and it’s expressed as a percentage. This is the most accurate way to determine the level of humidity in the atmosphere. After sifting through numerous studies that looked at the effects of relative humidity on the skin, the researchers determined that a dry climate can increase skin aging in a few key ways.
One of the studies included in the review showed that low relative humidity resulted in skin dryness and roughness. The researchers measured the water content in the cheeks and forearms of study participants after three- or six-hour stints in low humidity conditions. After both three and six hours, there was a significant decrease in water content in these body parts, and the skin was significantly rougher, too.
But the most surprising results had to do with wrinkles and sagging. In a separate study included in this review, researchers measured wrinkles and skin elasticity in the eyelids of 20 study participants after 30 minutes in a room with high humidity (70 percent RH), and 30 minutes in a room with low humidity (40 percent RH). The authors found significant decreases in moisture and elasticity after the half hour in low humidity—and a significant increase in wrinkles and uneven skin texture. And that was just after 30 minutes! Imagine what hours (or days) could do.
How dry weather accelerates aging
When the air is dry, your facial movements aren’t as smooth. Each movement is more intense, and this effort can leave behind wrinkles and wear down skin elasticity. A group of Japanese researchers proved this in a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. They measured wrinkle formation by asking volunteers to smile in 10 percent humidity (low) or 80 percent humidity (high). The researchers used a high-speed camera to capture movements around the corners of their eyes while they smiled. When smiling in the dry conditions, there was more strain around the eyes, and this strain caused crease-shaped wrinkles. In the humid environment, the strain was more dispersed, resulting in less wrinkling.
How to prevent signs of aging in dry conditions
Winter is tough on the skin. The air outside is cold, blustery, and dry, while the air inside is also dry—from your home’s heating system. Luckily, certain lifestyle changes can increase the level of humidity in your home.
- Run a humidifier in your bedroom to allow your skin to soak up much needed moisture while you sleep.
- Place houseplants around your home to add humidity to the air. The stems and leaves of plants emit moisture through a process called transpiration, and this moisture adds to the humidity in your environment.
- Hot water also saps moisture from your skin—so keep baths and showers short, and as lukewarm as you can tolerate.
But the most important thing you can do for your skin this winter is to use products that are specifically designed for dry, cold weather. Pour Moi’s Climate-Smart anti-aging products are formulated to nourish and protect skin according to your specific climate—the one you live in, or happen to be visiting. Your skin has its own internal control system that helps it adapt to different climates, referred to as Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). So, basically, when the weather changes, your skin changes along with it. Pour Moi products address these weather-specific changes.
The Climate-Smart Rotating System
To keep skin looking youthful during the winter, use the Climate-Smart 3-Step Rotating System. Select the area of the country in which you live (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, California, Texas, Hawaii), and then choose the season. The Climate Smart 3-Step Rotating System includes everything you need to achieve young-looking, radiant skin.
Step 1: Hydrating Balancer
This step preps the skin and imparts a base layer of moisture. If you live in a cold, dry climate like the Northeast, the Hydrating Balancer in your Climate-Smart 3-Step Rotating System contains Climate-Smart Geo-HydraD/Arid complex, which blends white truffle extract with three kids of ultra-moisturizing hyaluronic acid. Additionally, the balancer packs glycerin for extra hydration; citric acid and sodium hydroxide to acclimate the skin’s pH level to a dry environment; lactic acid to slough off dead skin cells; and mushroom extract to shrink pores. Apply the Hydrating Balancer to your face and neck using your hand or a cotton pad both morning and night.
Step 2: Black Serum
Serums are highly concentrated and are able to delve deep within the skin to quickly deliver active ingredients. The Black Serum (which is the serum that comes in the Climate-Smart 3-Step Rotating Systems designed for cold parts of the country) is formulated for arid conditions—and like the Hydrating Balancer, it contains Climate Smart Geo-HydraD/Arid Complex to keep skin moisturized in a cold environment. There is also diamond powder to slough off dry skin and boost radiance, and algae agar and algin to increase moisture and soothe skin. Smooth a drop of serum onto your face and neck immediately after applying the Hydrating Balancer, and then let the serum marinate on your skin for a minute before moving onto Step 3.
Step 3: Day Cream
The last step is moisturizer, and there are two included in your Climate-Smart Skincare 3-Step Rotating System. One day cream is used to combat the everyday conditions of your particular area, and the other is intended to be used on days of unseasonable weather. For example, for those living in the Northeast and Midwest, where winter tends to be especially dry, the 3-Step System includes Polar Day Cream (to combat arid winter air) and Temperate Day Cream (to be used on slightly warmer late winter/early spring days).
The Polar Day Cream Climate combines Climate-Smart Geo-HydraD/Polar Complex with glycerin (an emollient that creates a film over the skin, preventing water from escaping), shea butter (which protects delicate skin against wind and frost), and squalane oil (to keep the heat in your home from irritating your skin). What’s more, it’s packed with anti-aging ingredients like encapsulated vitamins A, C, E, and peptides. The Temperate Day Cream, on the other hand, contains Climate-Smart Geo-HydraD/Temperate Complex, which is formulated for comfortable weather ranging from 65 degrees F to 79 degrees F with 50 percent to 75 percent humidity—plus glycerin, squalane, vitamins, and peptides.
BONUS Step: Mask
For an extra boost of hydration, use the Polar Moisture-Burst Mask once a week. This clay-cream hybrid formula contains Norwegian Evergreen Spruce Extract to help skin adjust to cold, dry environments and Climate-Smart Geo-HydraD/Polar to moisturize and plump skin. It works by mirroring healthy skin’s biochemistry in a polar climate so it can protect the skin barrier function.
So, could the key to healthy, youthful-looking skin really be humidity? Absolutely! But since so many of us don’t live in a humid climate year-round, the best thing you can do for your skin is use skincare that can protect it from the harmful, drying effects of cold (or hot), low humidity environments. Using the Climate-Smart 3-Step Rotating System, along with a weekly treatment mask will keep your skin looking refreshed, balanced and radiant all winter long.