Skin Deep: Do Humidifiers Actually Help With Dry Skin? Here's What Expert Dr. Dendy Engelman Says

Skin Deep: Do Humidifiers Actually Help With Dry Skin? Here's What Expert Dr. Dendy Engelman Says

Dealing with dull, dry flaky winter skin? You’re not alone. Skin Deep is tackling it all during  Dry Skin Week, where we'll deliver tips, expert interviews and more so you never have another dry skin day!
Today, we're talking with Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, board certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic here in New York City about the science behind winter dry skin and why you need to be turning up your humidifier, ASAP!
Sophia Chabbott: What actually happens to the skin —scientifically speaking — when it dries out in winter?

Dr. Dendy Engelman: In the winter, the air contains less moisture because of the natural environment, including temperature and wind, as well as indoor factors, like heating. These conditions can be harsh on skin and make it more difficult for the skin barrier to maintain its natural oils, which protect it from drying out. When the air is dry, we are exposed to transepidermal water loss, which is when the air pulls moisture out of our skin. This is why many of us experience faster and more serious skin dryness, cracking and irritation in the winter. 

S.C.: How do humidifiers help moisturize the skin?

Dr. Engelman: Humidifiers help combat winter dryness and protect the skin by putting moisture into the environment, thereby raising the humidity level, which lessens or eliminates transepidermal water loss and prevents our barrier from being stripped of its protective oils.

Humidifier Benefits for Dry Skin

S.C: Do humidifiers benefit the skin barrier? If so, how?

Dr. Engelman: Humidifiers indirectly benefit the skin barrier by increasing the moisture in the air, which prevents the skin barrier’s defenses and moisture content from being stripped away by dry air and aggressors. When the air is humid, the moisture actually presses against our skin, helping it to stay more hydrated. 

While this is a benefit of all humidifiers, some models can also release contaminants and allergens into the air along with moisture, which can be harmful to our respiratory system - that’s why it’s important to choose a clean humidifier, like the one from Canopy.

S.C.: Why is Canopy’s humidifier unique in benefitting the skin?

Dr. Engelman: The Canopy Humidifier is especially beneficial to skin because its filtration system removes contaminants from the water and its unique technology inhibits the growth of mold and bacteria, so when you’re running this device, you can be confident that you and your loved ones are enjoying clean, hydrating air that’s free of potential irritants. The Canopy Humidifier also does not spurt out mist like many traditional models — instead, it just releases clean, moist air — so there’s no need to worry about exposing your skin to any unclean particles or risking condensation on your walls or floor. Everything stays neat and clean. And when it’s time to wash your humidifier, all parts that touch water are easy to clean and safe to pop into the dishwasher, so it’s easy to manage, as well. Unlike many humidifiers, the Canopy Humidifier is safe to keep on your desk, nightstand or right next to your bed while you’re sleeping, so your skin can reap the maximum benefits. 

Humidifier Benefits for Dry Skin

S.C.: What other health benefits do humidifiers offer?

Dr. Engelman: Studies have shown that at optimal humidity levels (40-60%) viruses like the flu are up to seven times less likely to be transmitted. This is because the humidity in the air inhibits viruses’ ability to travel between people. So, running a humidifier all year round — especially during the winter when viruses are highly transmissible due to cold, dry air — can help prevent you and your loved ones from getting sick. It can also help reduce symptoms of the cold, asthma and allergies. That being said, unclean humidifiers that spout out mist and contaminants can actually be harmful to your health and respiratory system. Since the Canopy Humidifier releases pure, hydrating air and doesn’t collect water or create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, you can safely use it without fear of any unwanted side effects.

S.C.: When is the optimal time to use a humidifier and how often should you use it?

Dr. Engelman: During the winter, when temperatures are lower and the air tends to be drier, is when most of us turn on our humidifiers in order to prevent dryness and help ease cold symptoms. However, many people don’t know that you should actually be using a humidifier year-round! We think of the summer as being a time when we don’t have to worry so much about our skin drying out, but air conditioning can actually wreak havoc on our barrier, accelerating transepidermal water loss and causing dryness and cracking. We may also be losing water in the summer due to sweat, so running a humidifier when you’re indoors is a great way to help your barrier conserve moisture. In the transitional months, humidifiers can help alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies and colds. So, I recommend running a clean humidifier 365 days a year for optimal skin and body health! Just make sure you’re using a clean device.

S.C.: When can you expect to see a change in skin health after using a humidifier?

Dr. Engelman: You start reaping the benefits of a humidifier in as little as 30 minutes after turning it on. You may notice that within a few hours or overnight, you’re noticing less dryness and irritation of the skin, and you may wake up with visibly brighter and plumper-looking skin if you’re sleeping with a humidifier beside your bed. Over time, you should see that your skin barrier is not drying out as quickly, and your skin will be better able to retain a hydrated, smooth and calm appearance.

S.C.: Be honest: how many humidifiers do you own? Where do you keep them?

Dr. Engelman: I own four — one in my bedroom, one in each of the children’s rooms, and one in my office!

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