Is your office AC ruining your skin?

Air conditioning is ubiquitous in a tropical country like ours. But it’s doing you more harm than good. Here’s how your AC is sucking the life out of your skin and how you can minimise its ill effects.

Let’s accept it, most of us can’t do without air conditioning. It keeps you cool and comfortable in hot unbearable conditions, which we happen to face a lot in India. But on the downside, prolonged exposure to it can make your skin dry and lifeless. Here’s how:

The air controlled by an AC has zero moisture content, ie it’s absolutely dry. That’s why your makeup stays in place for longer when you’re indoors. But the dry air also draws the natural moisture from your skin making it dry, flaky and irritable. When the air gets dry it tends to compensate by drawing out moisture from objects within the room. This can lead to increased water loss from the epidermis or the upper layer of the skin, causing less water retention within these layers. This results in dry skin and hair, chapping of lips, dry eyes and premature ageing of skin. As we know, wrinkles and fine lines are more visible on dry and dehydrated skin. Low temperatures affects the elasticity of the skin making it look aged. Dry air can also aggravate skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, allergies and rosacea. The lack of sebum secretion with prolonged use of AC leads to dehydration and drying of the skin

In a nutshell, exposure to AC leads to dry skin, wrinkles, dehydrated and dull skin and aggravates skin diseases. But you can minimise risk with a few common sense guidelines.

Less is more
The best way to deal with skin problems caused by AC is to spend as little time in it as possible. Skin problems arise when you spend more than nine hours in an air-conditioned space. Ideally you should not spend more than two or three hours at a stretch indoors. While this is unavoidable in office, at home, turn on the AC only when it’s really hot and keep it on only for a bit. Take a break every three hours for five to ten minutes by taking a walk outside.


Use a non-foaming cleanser
Start by replacing your face wash with a non-foaming cleanser like micellar water to prevent excessive dryness. Soap-based face washes make the skin barrier porous which makes it easier for moisture and nutrients to escape.


Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise
Make sure you keep a rich lotion infused with urea or glycerin handy and apply it every two hours or whenever your skin feels dry. Apply it on exposed areas like hands, elbows, feet and knees. However, stay away from heavy creams as they don’t penetrate into skin and leave it sticky instead.


Spritz mist
Keep thermal spring water sprays on your desk and use it every two to three hours on your face. This will keep your skin hydrated and fresh.


Invest in a humidifier
Keep a humidifier on your desk to reduce dryness. An easier alternative is to keep a bowl full of water in the room.


Check the temperature
The ideal temperature setting is the one closest to room temperature. Our skin has its own thermal regulating system. Skin tries to maintain its hydration level by releasing sweat and oil, and this happens smoothly when the temperature is around 24 to 30°c.


Avoid direct exposure
Don’t sit directly in front of the AC vent as the direct blasts of cold air are the worst for skin. Also, ensure AC filters are cleaned regularly to avoid unclean air.


Drink lots of water
Drinking sufficient amount of water through the day is important to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. Air-conditioning can make your skin look dull and lifeless. Water intake will help restore balance.


Pamper yourself
Once a week, indulge in an oil massage. It will ensure oil penetrates deep into your skin and keeps it protected from harsh dry air. Also, get hydrating facials and use nourishing masks at home.

Say no to centralised
If possible avoid centeralised units in office and at home. This way you can switch off the AC for short periods and allow your skin to return to room temperature.