Beat Joburg’s dry winter woes with moisture-rich remedies

The only thing dryer than a certain brand of cider is Joburg in winter. Luckily, there are ways to introduce more moisture into the air we breathe, as well as to nourish dehydrated skin. You can even drink one of them (we’re talking about collagen, naturally).

Gautengers all know how tight skin can feel during winter. However, Colette Boshoff, national sales manager at air treatment specialist Solenco, says dry air can also induce ailments and allergies. “Beyond just dry skin, Gauteng’s winter weather can lead to systemic dehydration as well as sore throats, irritated eyes, nosebleeds and respiratory issues like asthma and bronchitis. On top of this, breathing in dry, dirty air can increase stress levels and heighten our risk of all kinds of infections.”

There are solutions, though. Some work from the inside out, like collagen, and some work from the outside in, like squalane serums and humidifiers.

Collagen is a protein that our bodies produce naturally, and it’s the main component of the connective tissues that make up our skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. As we age, and when the air is arid, we often need to supplement our collagen levels. Studies show that taking up to 12 grams of collagen per day for 4 to 12 weeks can improve skin elasticity and hydration. Look for a brand that contains collagen peptides, which means the protein has been broken down to make it easier for your body to absorb.

Our bodies produce squalene (with an ‘e’) as part of our built-in system for moisturising our skin – but, like collagen, we make less of it as we age. Add dry air and you’ve a recipe for skin that feels tight, itchy and uncomfortable.

Squalene is also found naturally in olives, rice bran, sugarcane and shark liver and, to make it suitable for use in skincare products, it’s converted into an oil known as squalane (with an ‘a’), which can improve hydration and reduce moisture loss. It can be used safely by most people, even those who struggle with eczema and sensitive, irritable skin and also works to hydrate hair. Be kind to sharks and look for a product that’s 100% plant-based.

Boshoff says a humidifier can benefit both your skin and your health by adding bacteria-free moisture back into dry air to soothe parched skin, sinuses, eyes and throats, alleviate the symptoms of respiratory illnesses and boost overall immunity. But, she warns that not all humidifiers are created equal. “Some cheaper models don’t work optimally to release moisture back into the air. Others don’t have a humidistat, which means you could be creating an unhealthy, high level of humidity.”

There’s also a difference between evaporative and ultrasonic humidifiers. Ultrasonic models, like the Solenco Top Filling Ultrasonic Humidifier (pictured below) and the Meaco Deluxe Humidifier and Air Purifier use high-frequency sound vibrations to produce a fine water mist. Look for a model with a HEPA-grade filter, a UV lamp or a silver ion sterilisation function to remove bacteria and other contaminants from the water mist.

Evaporative humidifiers like the Stylies Alaze evaporate water into the air, which means they’re free of both mist and water droplets – much like a body of water in a room, naturally evaporating into the air. Some models heat water into steam, while others absorb water through a filter and then blow cool air across it. In both instances, the water is turned to vapour inside the humidifier, so that bacteria and other contaminants stay in the unit.

“You should carefully consider your needs, and the available options, before investing in a humidifier. Energy-efficiency is a factor, as are cleaning and maintenance, and the availability of a years-long warranty,” says Boshoff.

Main image credit: Freepik

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