It may seem, then, that sky-high temps and tropical humidity is the way to go for healthy skin. And while it certainly does have its advantages, it also has some drawbacks of its own.
Humidity, on its own, does help to add moisture to dry skin -- and, therefore, can temporarily reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. "Over the long term it probably doesn't make a difference," says Benabio, "but if you looked at someone in Colorado in the middle of winter and then looked at that same person down in Florida, you'd probably see fewer wrinkles on the day they're in Florida."
When heat and humidity combine, however, the effects may not be as moisturizing as they seem. High temperatures cause the skin to become more permeable, allowing moisture to escape in the form of sweat. And while sweat may give your skin a shiny glow, it may actually contribute to dryness and dehydration if you're not actively replenishing (both by using moisturizer and by drinking lots of water) those lost fluids.
Sweat is, overall, a healthy process -- and sweat itself is not bad for your skin, says Chris Adigun, assistant dermatology professor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. But when sweat mixes with dirt and bacteria (when you wipe with your hand or a dirty towel, for example), it can clog pores and contribute to acne.
For those with acne-prone skin, humidity may spell trouble. This weather can cause your oil-creating sebaceous glands to go into overdrive and causing breakouts.
And though some people may think that sun exposure can dry up excess oil and reduce the appearance of these breakouts, those results are temporary at best; UV damage and drying of the skin can actually cause glands to produce excess oil, which can lead to more breakouts in the future. [Source: Dunlop] People in warm temperatures should take special care to protect themselves from the sun's cancer-causing rays, since they're likely spending a lot more time in the outdoors. That's why wearing a moisturizer with sunscreen is so important anytime you're outside -- and so is reapplying after you've been in the water or sweating.
While sun protection may not be important for people who spend more of the winter indoors, it is still necessary for those who are outside year-round -- especially those at higher altitudes (where natural protection from the atmosphere is thinner) where sun is reflecting off of snow.
- Adigun, Chris, MD. Personal interview. July 10, 2013.
- Benabio, Jeffrey, MD. Personal interview. August 14, 2013.
- Dunlop, Courtney. "Does Tanning Actually Help Clear Up Acne?" Dr. Oz Blog. June 12, 2013. (August 15, 2013) http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/does-tanning-actually-help-clear-up-acne
- Lamb, Robert. "Should the Weather Affect Your Daily Skin Care?" Discovery Fit & Health. (August 15, 2013) http://www.eucerinus.com/skin-health/beyond-skin/cold-weather.html
- Perry, Arthur, MD. "How Does Cold Weather Affect My Skin?" Sharecare. (August 15, 2013) http://www.sharecare.com/health/skin-and-beauty/how-cold-weather-affect-skin
- Siddons, Sarah. "How Does Climate Affect Skin?" Discovery Fit & Health. (August 15, 2013) http://www.eucerinus.com/skin-health/beyond-skin/humidity.html