Last week I woke up with bright red splotches on my cheeks and leathery dry patches under my eyes. I tried using my usual mixture of a daily moisturizer mixed with a dab of anti-inflammatory steroid. No change. Thinking it was some kind of allergic reaction I mixed some oatmeal in cool water and dabbed the mixture on my face. This usually soothes anything, but this time my skin seemed to get worse.
I was on my way to call Dr Marmur when I glanced at the hygrometer ( it measures humidity) on my dresser and solved the mystery of my mutant skin. The humidity in my apatment was a surprising 28%. The unseasonable snow storm that whipped through the tri-state area had brought cold windy weather that lowered natural humidity. For healthy skin and airways, indoor humidity should be between 40-50%. Too high and it can encourage the growth of mold and dust mites. Too high will lead to dry skin and respiratory symptoms like reddend dry skin, sore throat and nose bleeds.
My simple, non-greasy moisturizers were just not getting the job done. My skin was raw and dry because of low humidity in the air. I stopped using all retinoids, vitamin C, exfoliating brushes and brought out the big guns– a jar of shea butter. After I washed my face at bedtime with Cetaphil and while still damp, I applied a thick layer of shea butter. I kept it on for 30 minutes, then rinsed it off. Next morning my skin had returned to normal. I’m using this 30 minute intensive ( developed by Dr Marmur) for a few days to make sure my skin stays hydrated.
The weather soon warmed up, but real winter is just weeks away. I’m going to keep my shea butter nearby, ready for the next blizzard of the century.