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Is this simple device the secret to youthful skin?


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Photo: Stocksy/Kayla Snell

“We’re aging faster than people in other parts of the country,” my friend tells me over dinner one night. “Since moving here [from New York], I’ve basically transformed into the Crypt Keeper.”

These two sentences are how I come to install a humidifier in my house. You see, my friend’s complaint is a needle-scratch moment for me: Though I’m as interested as the next gal (or guy, for that matter) in naturally retaining a youth-adjacent glow for as long as possible, it’s never actually occurred to me before this moment that LA’s dry air could be causing my skin to age faster than it might if the environment were humid.

So, I research his hypothesis and lo and behold, my friend might be right. One small study I find split participants into two rooms—one with relative humidity which measured at 70 percent and the other, 40 percent. After just 30 minutes, researchers noted “significant increases in fine wrinkles” for the low humidity group. Groan. 

According to my beauty editor friends, this is why some Koreans—embedded in a culture known for its meticulous and effective skincare regimens—keep personal humidifiers at their desks. Part of me, however, feels that this relatively-simple solution might be too good to be too true in a world where humans go to the lengths of injecting toxins into their faces in order to pause the aging process. So, I decide to put it to the test.

“This moisture can leave the skin radiant, glowing, dewy, and even a bit more plump,” —Dr. Gohara.

A week or so later, Jetsons-esque appliance from Dyson shows up. I eagerly assemble it and wait for the years to fall away. In the meantime, I ask Mona Gohara, MD, a Danbury, Connecticut-based dermatologist MDfor her thoughts on the anti-aging benefits of humidifiers. “They definitely add moisture to the skin, and this is important from a skin health perspective,” she tells me. “This moisture can leave the skin radiant, glowing, dewy, and even a bit more plump; these, I suppose could be credited as anti-aging benefits.”

But how do you know if a humidifier is actually necessary for you? Dr. Gohara tells me it’s appropriate in any dry environment—to find out if yours qualifies as such, you can always use a hydrometer to check humidity levels. Typically, 40 to 60 percent humidity is considered comfortable and anything lower than that is considered dry. Often, symptoms of low humidity include itchy eyes and throat, dry skin, and frequent/persistent respiratory infections.

After about three months of using my little steam machine, I don’t seem to be Benjamin Buttoning per se; however, my skin does look less parched and overall brighter, at least to me. And it feels different. I would equate the results to those of using a high-quality hydrating sheet mask nightly—not anti-aging exactly, but glow-enhancing nonetheless. Hopefully, through continued use, I will avoid my friend’s initial prediction without having to change ZIP codes in the process.

Newsflash: Humidifiers can also help your hair. Interested? Here are 9 styles to shop in addition to the Dyson. Desktop versions are available, too.

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