The Heat From the Blowdryer Can Damage Your Skin, but Here’s How to Protect It

Photo: Getty Images/Youngoldman
There's an annoyingly long list of things that most people know to protect their skin from. Sunlight, for one. The cold weather, for another. Your cell phones, for yet another. And recently, I found out there's an entirely different element that could be wreaking havoc on your face: heat.

I know, I know—cue the "womp, womp." But, according to derms, doing things like sitting in an infrared sauna or blasting yourself with hot air from a blowdryer can present its own set of not-so-ideal skin situations. "While UV is much more damaging, over time infrared light can also have an impact on skin," says New York-based dermatologist Kaveri Korgavkar, MD. Though it's important to note that regular sunscreen won't help with this, she says, so you need something that's specially formulated to tackle infrared rays, like SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair ($68). "Heat from blowdryers or other sources can damage skin as well," she explains. "First, some hair dryers emit energy in the infrared range. Also, heat itself can damage the skin by inducing oxidative stress, which  can trigger conditions such as melasma." This, she says, is more common in people with darker skin, and can be treated with regular use of antioxidant serums.

"Extremes in heat can also trigger rosacea flares," confirms NYC-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, who points to infrared saunas as particularly problematic for anyone prone to hyperpigmentation. "Heat can lead to free radical damage and hyperpigmentation in the skin."

So, uh, what are you supposed to do about about all of this, aside from stay away from anything hot?  "Unfortunately, sunscreens do you not protect the skin from the heat or infrared damage," says Dr. Zeichner. "To protect your skin, make sure the barrier is well hydrated with moisturizers and apply antioxidants like vitamin C to help neutralize any oxygen free radicals." For added protection, try a moisturizer that's specially formulated to fight off damage from infrared and heat waves, à la Supergoop Superscreen Daily Moisturizer ($38), which happens to be a new personal favorite of mine. But considering my usual morning routine has always consisted of blowdrying my hair and then applying my SPF (on top of 10+ layers of products), it looks like I'll be swapping things around for the sake of my skin.

Since the buzzy vitamin just became an even more important part of our routines, here are the best vitamin C serums that you can *add to cart* on Amazon. And this is what you should know about protecting your skin barrier.

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