Hydrating the skin, hair, or both neatly marks the end of cleansing and transitions you into your beauty routine. As a universal beauty concern for all ages and cultures, lack of moisture presents problems she, you, your best friend, mom and rival -- in short, everyone -- wishes to avoid. While it’s no secret that dryness poses a threat to beauty, we’re not as aware of how it threatens our well-being, too.
In fact, dry air makes us vulnerable to illness. Inhaling dry air makes us more prone to respiratory ailments: from nosebleeds and sinusitis, to bronchitis and asthma. When the respiratory system works to breathe in dry air, our bodily fluids become depleted, causing dehydration. These factors can lead to a greater consequence, like a deficit in our natural immune system. Daniel Allan, MD sums up that with dried-out “sinuses… mucus that normally should be gooey and thick and can trap infection gets drier. So you’re more likely to get a cold because your mucus is not as able to catch things that you breathe in.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, dry air can trigger a range of problems:
- Dry eyes
- Sore throat
- Dry nasal passages
- Bloody nose
- Make colds and flu worse
- Chapped skin and lips
- Itchy, dry skin
- Worsened asthma and allergy symptoms
You likely experience some of these symptoms in the wintertime -- if not at home, then probably in the office. By default, chilly air holds less moisture than warm air. Wintertime humidity levels tend to stay low, especially since moisture-deprived air is quick to suck up what little moisture there is elsewhere. Bodily moisture is no exception; it evaporates more quickly, leaving your skin to dry out and the inside of your nose and throat to parch.
To make matters worse, many homes rely on furnaces to keep warm. The hot air they pump into heated homes are dry. Contrary to these daily customs, the EPA recommends that indoor relative humidity (RH) be kept within the range of 30 to 50 percent. In low humidity environments, 70-77 percent of disease-carrying airborne viruses transmit themselves through coughs; at 43 percent humidity or higher, that number drops to 14 percent (according to a 2013 study). Another recent Yale study exhibited similar findings, in which the transmission of influenza virus was dependent on humidity levels.
Clearly, maintaining healthy humidity levels in our living environments is crucial for everyone, not only for the high-maintenance ones. Either for an effortless beauty routine or for basic health concerns, you’re much better off relaxing and residing in appropriately humidified spaces.