Between our yearlong summer and humidity that could rival life in a fishtank, we look to skincare and body products that can offer sweet relief from the heat.
Why is it important to keep our skin cool?
“Our skin regulates at a temperature between 33 to 37°C, with areas that protrude, such as the nose, slightly lower than that,” shares board-certified cosmetic surgeon, Dr Yannis Alexandrides of 111 Harley Street and founder of reparative skincare range, 111Skin, available at Net-a-Porter. “By reducing the temperature through cryotherapy, we can hack the skin’s thermoregulation to trigger vasoconstriction (the constriction of blood vessels). This stimulates an increase in circulation, collagen production and endorphins while reducing inflammation, pain and the look of fatigue. It also has wonderful lifting, firming and contouring benefits due to the muscle constriction on the face. Cryotherapy activates the production of collagen and elastin in the dermis, increasing the skin’s capacity to rejuvenate itself and appear smoother, lifted and firm. The use of cold means the skin/body achieves an improved ability to neutralise toxins and repair cellular damage, resulting in incredible anti-ageing effects.”
Can overheated skin caused by a hot environment speed up ageing?
“If you are overheating following sun exposure, yes—any sun damage will speed up ageing. If it is another reason, the long-term ageing consequences can usually be negated by rebalancing your body. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a cryotherapy facial though,” says Dr Alexandrides.
We admit that a study that showed severe skin ageing in baker’s arms, possibly due to frequent exposure to hot ovens, caused a bit of concern. What role does environmental heat play in inducing skin ageing, especially given Southeast Asia’s hot and humid climate? For Dr Rachel Ho of La Clinic, “the extent to which heat exposure plays in accelerating ageing signs in humans is not known. The link is at best observational, rather than causative.”
“Prolonged heat causing premature skin ageing via protein damage and increased inflammatory markers have been shown in mostly animal studies and human cells in petri dishes (in vitro). However, a direct, causative link in human studies cannot be drawn because animal studies and human cells in petri dishes may not behave the same as living human beings in real life; and the human studies were not able to conclusively prove the link that heat exposure worsens ageing. The studies merely showed that heat exposure increased the levels of MMP enzymes. MMP enzymes decrease collagen levels in the skin.” Assuring us that regardless of how hot Singapore or Southeast Asia gets, Dr Ho is “not overtly worried about thermal ageing as based on the studies described: the high temperatures of >40deg in human skin [means] basically this person is running a high fever plus prolonged duration of 90 minutes is unlikely to be replicated, regardless how hot Singapore gets.”
“My only tip for temperature related precautions for the skin is to avoid washing face with hot water. It can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause dryness. Rinse with lukewarm or cold water instead,” says Dr Ho.
Weather aside, what are the intrinsic factors that can lead to a flushed, overheated face?
The onset of menopause, inflammation, lack of sleep, and certain phases of your menstrual cycle are just some of the intrinsic factors that can lead to sensitive and overheated skin. “All of the above as well as hyperthyroidism, gut issues such as candida and even stress. If your skin feels overheated that is usually your body attempting to thermoregulate – be mindful of signs such as sweating, dizziness, heat rash and cramping. Look at overheated skin as a symptom, one that is indicating an underlying health issue,” says Dr Alexandrides.
Best foods to eat to help cool down and de-puff the face when it’s hot?
“Aside from heavily rehydrating, de-puffing is normally handled topically. However, you can avoid that altogether by avoiding certain food groups that are high in sodium,” shares Dr Alexandrides.
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111Skin Sub-Zero De-Puffing Energy Facial Mask
Fatigued, swollen skin is easily remedied with this cooling, hydrogel mask. Infused with acetyl tetrapeptide-5 and caffeine to combat water retention and inflammation, the mask offers a boost of hydration and helps stimulate circulation to improve the skin’s glow. “We have created an entire collection within 111Skin inspired by cryotherapy – that is how much I love it. The range works to tone, tighten and energise the skin through biomimetic ingredients like ATP, which is naturally found within our cells and is akin to their form of energy. By infusing your skin with topical ATP it is like giving it an energy drink; the skin’s processes that may have been sluggish (as our natural ATP decreases the older we get) rev up to their optimal state,” shares Dr Alexandrides.
111Skin Sub-Zero De-Puffing Energy Facial Mask, US$125 for 5 sachets; available at Net-a-Porter
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Laneige Water Bank Sherbet Cream
Laneige’s R&D team discovered that an elevated skin temperature affects skin fibres, resulting in loss of elasticity. Perfect for when your skin is hot and bothered, this freeze-to-use skin sherbet offers natural extracts and minerals to gently cool down sun or heat-irritated skin. Sherbet crystals melt onto the skin to help lower its temperature for instant relief and refreshment. A fast facial priming fix-it before make-up or to cool you down in the throes of a hot flash.
Laneige Water Bank Sherbet Cream, $52 for 50ml; available at Sephora
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La Mer The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream
This gel cream cocoons your complexion in a cool, fresh burst of moisture without the weight associated with traditionally rich anti-ageing creams. Perfect for layering over your soothing face essence and serum, it is formulated with La Mer’s healing Miracle Broth elixir, antioxidant powerhouse, lime tea, and micro oil gel capsules to deliver hydration and skin renewal in a velvety-smooth finish. Best enjoyed chilled.
La Mer The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream, $525 for 60ml; available at Sephora
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Mediheal Tension Flex Hydra Mask
This cheap and cheerful treatment is great for all skin types and shapes, delivering a shot of hydration and moisture in one sheet mask. A serum of tea tree leaf, centella complex and other skin soothers generously engulf this tension mask which adheres to the face like a second skin, offering a pleasant lifting and slimming effect.
Mediheal Tension Flex Hydra Mask, $4.90; available at Guardian
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Clarins Energizing Emulsion
A favourite of pregnant mothers with heavy, swollen legs, travellers and anyone who spends long hours on their feet, this lightweight, cooling solution soothes and relieves tired legs while hydrating the skin. The non-sticky, energising lotion contains soothing chamomile, basil, petitgrain, lemon, sage, and rosemary essential oil to relax and rejuvenated tired legs while leaving the skin silky smooth. Ingredients such as arnica, horse chestnut and cypress help boost circulation and minimise swelling. Best of all, beyond the legs, it can be enjoyed on the limbs and other parts of the body.
Clarins Energizing Emulsion, $58 for 125ml; available at Clarins
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Anne Semonin Precious Pearl Ice Cubes
Chill out—literally—with these skincare-infused ice cubes that are more slushie in texture by the time they hit your skin than just bougie ice. Freeze for a minimum of three hours and pop them on your face to instantly firm, soothe and cool down parched or overheated skin. The ice cubes melt upon contact and deliver a cocktail of hyaluronic acid, Edelweiss flowers, and hydrolysed silk protein to calm inflammation, de-puff, and help the skin regain its vitality. And if the ice cubes don’t make you glow, shimmering amino acid-rich white pearl extracts deliver luminosity to the complexion. While the little frozen disc looks rather small in nature, you’ll be pleased to know there is plenty left over to run along the neck, décolletage, and arms, giving lacklustre skin a boost. This will leave your skin low-key glistening à la Twilight’s Edward Cullen in a sun-drenched meadow, so pick your moment is all we’re saying.
Anne Semonin Precious Pearl, US $96.79 for 6 cubes; available at Net-a-Porter
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Glowfully Healing Elixir
Especially formulated for sensitive skin types that tend to wilt in the heat, this refreshing cool-gel emulsion instantly soothes skin irritations and drenches the skin in moisture with amino acids and OG skin soothers: aloe vera and chamomile extract. Those with sensitised skin will be happy to know that in addition to being lightweight and super soothing, this hydrator is also fragrance free.
Glowfully Healing Elixir $54 for 50ml; available at Glowfully
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Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
If the packaging alone isn’t enough to entice you (it’s in a veritable ice cube for crying out loud), try this soothing, pillow-proof sleeping mask for size. Watermelon rind and flesh have been used by many a Korean beauty to help soothe skinflammation, including heat rash during the summer. Consisting of 92 per cent water, watermelon is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids. Slather this bedtime treat onto skin to help it repair, gently turn over dead skin cells thanks to AHAs, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and replenish rough skin.
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, $69 for 80ml; available at Sephora