Growing up in Malaysia, I always thought that having an air-conditioner (AC) in your house was a privilege. It still is actually. If the weather gets too hot, you can just turn up the AC and cool yourself down. I spent most of my childhood years living with my grandparents and we didn’t have any air-conditioner in the house. I remember just opening the door to the freezer and standing there to cool myself, only to be scolded for doing so. The only time I got to enjoy the cool air from the air-conditioner was when we were in the car going somewhere, or when we went to the mall (which was very rare), or when I visited my mom’s workplace.
If you live in a tropical country like I do where it’s practically summer all year long, you must know the joy of being away from the scorching heat outdoors and staying cool indoors in an air-conditioned room. But the question still remains. Does your skin actually love air-conditioners as much as you do?
EFFECTS OF AIR-CONDITIONER ON YOUR SKIN
A widespread misconception is that your air-conditioner’s sole duty is to continuously blast cool air into your home until the temperature you set on your thermostat is attained. While your air-conditioner does indeed bring cool air into your home, it also removes warm air and humidity. There is no “setting” on your air-conditioner that you must programme to manage humidity; it is simply programmed to do so.
1. Makes your skin dry and itchy
When air-conditioner sucks out moisture from the room, it makes no distinction as to where the moisture originates from. It may be the humidity in the air, or perhaps it’s the natural moisture in your skin. If you spend the entire day in an air-conditioned room, whether at work, home, or in your car, your skin will begin to dry up. If this continues for an extended period of time, it will have an effect on the inner layers of your skin. Your skin will become irritated, strained, and eventually flaky.
2. Dehydrates your skin
Natural oils produced by your skin are essential to its texture and health. The temperature of your surroundings is reduced by air conditioning to between 18℃ and 26℃. As a result, perspiration production decreases across the body, with the exception of the palms, soles, and underarms. Toxins remain within your skin and are not secreted as a result. Oil production decreases as well, resulting in dehydrated, dull, and unhealthy skin.
3. Your skin may age prematurely
Water is your skin’s best friend since it keeps it supple and elastic. As the space and your skin lose moisture from air conditioning, the ageing process of your skin can be accelerated. With the loss of moisture, your skin starts to shrivel. As a result, its elasticity is reduced. Your skin becomes dry and more prone to wrinkling and creasing if you don’t replenish the water that’s continually being pulled out of its tissues.
4. Degenerates your skin
People frequently exit an air-conditioned environment into the blistering heat outside, or walk into an air-conditioned area from the hot outdoors. This abrupt change in temperature can be quite stressful for your skin, as it impairs and damages the skin’s capacity to repair. If your skin is constantly stressed, it will struggle to adapt to changes in its environment and will not rejuvenate as it should, eventually causing it to become undernourished and dull.
5. It may cause or worsen skin disorders
Air conditioners dry up your skin, causing it to become itchy and flaky. In certain situations, the skin turns red, develops rashes, and begins to peel off. For people who already have skin disorders, the air conditioner might aggravate symptoms since it disrupts your skin’s moisture balance. The air conditioner can aggravate illnesses such as dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea. Strong cold air on the skin can cause discomfort, neurodermatitis (skin nerve sensitivity), or neuralgia. These symptoms include sharp or shooting pain, or a burning feeling.
TIPS TO COMBAT THE EFFECTS OF AIR-CONDITIONER ON YOUR SKIN
I’m sure that for some of you, you can’t exactly avoid being in an air-conditioned environment, especially when your workplace has the AC turned on all-day long. What more, if you’re in Malaysia, an air-conditioned space is always welcomed after spending time in the sweltering heat outdoors. So here are some of the things that you can do to combat the effects of the air-conditioner on your skin.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough water. According to a 2015 study, drinking more water can lead to positive changes in your skin’s appearance, while drinking less water than you need will have the opposite effect. It’s common to forget hydration when you’re not sweating, but the average woman should consume 2.7 litres of water every day, while men should consume about 3.7 litres daily.
- Increasing the humidity in the room. You can invest in a humidifier to help increase the humidity in your room and make the air less dry, or opt for a budget-friendlier solution by leaving bowls or water around the room. As an alternative, you can keep indoor plants that will transpire water vapour into the air, increasing the humidity in the area surrounding them.
- Take a break from the AC. The simplest way to protect your skin from the negative effects of air conditioning is to turn it off from time to time. Forget about desk lunches and go outside for some fresh air during your lunch break. After your meal, take a walk around your office to walk off that delicious lunch while obtaining your daily dosage of vitamin D.
- After spending the whole day working in an air-conditioned space, try to limit the usage of air-conditioners elsewhere. While sleeping with the air-conditioner on is common, it may not be a good idea. Practice sleeping without the air-conditioner on at night because that’s when both you and your skin need to rest and recover. If you’re concerned about sweating at night, turn on the air-conditioner for 20-30 minutes before going to bed, then turn on your fan to circulate the cooled air around your room.
- Cut down on your caffeine intake. Drinking too much coffee or tea might be detrimental to your overall hydration levels because they have slight diuretic effects that can lead to dehydration. Limit your drinks to no more than two per day, and you’ll be rewarded with dewy, fresh skin.
- Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Regularly applying moisturiser to your skin can keep it well-balanced by replacing the water your skin has lost. Look for moisturisers that offer both moisturising and hydrating qualities, like The Mighty Emulsion, Ultra Moisturising Cream, and The Satin Cream. Learn more about dry and dehydrated skin here.