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Office air dehydrates your skin

Two hours into your workday and you’ve probably already noticed that your skin isn’t anywhere near as perky as it was before you left the house. That’s partly just your makeup settling on your skin, but it’s also your office’s air conditioning doing some damage.

While air conditioning does our lungs a huge favour by filtering out smoke and traffic exhaust from urban environments, it also lowers air humidity. And over time, low humidity can rob your skin of moisture and dry it out. Research shows that dehydrated skin is less flexible, duller, and can’t repair itself effectively. On top of that, the dry air might be contributing to eye irritation.

The solution? Combat the side effects of recycled air and A/C with these five essentials that will keep you glowing from 9 to 5. Carve out a small bit of drawer space at your desk and keep these products on hand.

Our working girls’ “office kit” will leave you with hydrated skin and eyes through the day.

Humectant mists are a quick way to get some moisture into your skin in the middle of the day without messing up your makeup.

Look for water-holding ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and glycols to restore your skin’s water balance. Avène Thermal Spring Water ($9) and Heritage Store Rosewater and Glycerin ($10.99) are fantastic for delivering much-needed water to your skin throughout the day.

You might also want to try an antioxidant spray like Dermalogica Antioxidant Hydramist ($11.50) to neutralise the damaging free radicals from urban pollution that your skin picked up during your morning commute.

One of the telltale signs of age is wrinkly hands. The skin on your hands often ages faster than facial skin too, since it’s thinner, catches a lot of sun, and is frequently ignored.

L’Occitane Shea Butter hand cream ($12) and Eucerin Daily Hydration Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($5.45) are fast-absorbing, nongreasy options that are perfect for keeping next to your keyboard. Use hand cream every time you wash your hands and your skin will thank you.

Rubbing your eyes is said to be bad for your health. While staring at a brightly lit computer screen can irritate your eyes, dry office air won’t help either. According to Dr. Mark Mifflin, who spoke with The Scope (University of Utah Health Sciences Radio), chronic eye rubbing may cause the eyelid to lose elasticity. Remember, the only pressure you should be putting on your eyes is a gentle pat.

Keep some eye drops like Systane Ultra lubricant eye drops ($9.13) or Clear Eyes Redness Relief ($2.62) on hand to cut down on dryness. They’ll also help you avoid the post-lunch wave of lethargy or looking red-eyed during your meeting. Don’t forget to follow the 20-20-20 rule as well, to protect your eyes during work.

It’s a good idea to refresh your sun protection before you step out for lunch, or when you go home at the end of the day if it’s still light out. The sun is the main cause of skin aging in light-skinned people, and a study on sunscreen use found that daily sunscreen users had no increased signs of aging during the four years they were observed.

SPF mists like Supergoop! Sunscreen Mist ($12) are great for topping up your UV protection without disturbing your makeup, while powders like Brush on Block Mineral Powder Sunscreen ($13.55) can be used to soak up extra oil at the end of the day.

If you haven’t had a chance to grab these products yet, be sure to rest your eyes every 20 minutes, get your blood flowing from time to time with deskercises, and stay hydrated!

One 2015 study suggests that high water consumption can positively affect your skin’s physiology, and drinking less water than you need will result in skin changes. It’s easy to forget about hydration when you’re not sweating it out, but the average woman should be drinking 11.5 cups per day. Men should drink 15.5 cups. If you need an incentive to drink water, get a bottle with a fruit infuser ($11.99) for tastier hydration.

Michelle explains the science behind beauty products at Lab Muffin Beauty Science. She has a PhD in synthetic medicinal chemistry. You can follow her for science-based beauty tips on Instagram and Facebook.