The sparking point for many an office argument, air conditioning is supposed to help us stay cool in summer. In reality, it often leaves us shivering and battling dry skin and breakouts.

Air conditioning dries air and reduces humidity in the environment. According to dermatologist Dr Emma Wedgeworth, this lack of humidity in the air seems to affect the water content of the outer layer of the skin, as well as reducing its elastic properties, leading to dryer, rougher skin.

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Yellow bricks being laid by a bricklayer  (Ian Nicholson/PA)

Think of your skin as a brick wall (Ian Nicholson/PA)

It doesn’t affect everyone and some are more prone than others. This is down to your genetic make-up. As Dr Wedgeworth puts it, “Think of your skin like a brick wall – if your bricks are all a regular shape and the cement works very well, the ‘wall’ (skin) can hold water in well and will be less prone to dryness.”

“If the bricks are a different shape and the cement doesn’t hold as well, you lose water and so are more prone to drying out.”

Continual drying of the skin through air conditioning or other means can cause cracking, redness dryness and eventually dermatitis.

Dr Emma Wedgeworth (left), Emma Coleman (right)
Dr Emma Wedgeworth (left), Emma Coleman (right)


We’ve asked the experts to give us some top tips on keeping our skin hydrated and looking fresh, even in the harshest of air con situations.

Dr Wedgeworth and Emma Coleman, founder of Inner-Soul Organics skincare, have five tips to keep your skin looking baby-fresh.

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1. Take breaks from the air con

Two women in office wear walk together outside
Try and get outside on your lunchbreak (Thinkstock)

Your skin is dynamic, so will change according to the environment you are in. Much of the changes that are caused by air conditioning will be reversible when you move into a more humid environment. Take breaks outside the office to refresh your skin.

2. Moisturise with a non-fragranced moisturiser

a mater droplet (Pennon/PA)
Keep skin hydrated with a simple moisturiser (Pennon/PA)

If your skin feels dry and tight, use a non-fragranced moisturiser to replace the lost hydration from your skin. Dr Wedgeworth is working with E45, the dry skin experts, and recommends trying their moisturiser.

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3. Avoid irritating your skin further

(David Parry/PA)
Heavily perfumed products aren’t great for your skin (David Parry/PA)

If the air conditioning is making your skin irratable, it’s best to avoid making it worse by piling on heavily scented products. Try not to use too much perfume, harsh soaps or strongly fragranced detergents, as they will all further dry out your skin.

4. Keep a facial oil in your desk

Emma Coleman recommends the Inner-Soul Organics serum (Inner-Soul Organics)
Emma Coleman recommends the Inner-Soul Organics serum (Inner-Soul Organics)

To troubleshoot particularly dry spots, apply a facial oil at lunchtime and again in the afternoon if needed. Use fingertips to press onto areas of the face and neck which feel dry as you massage it in.

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5. Find interesting ways to stay hydrated

a glass of water being poured(Niall Carson/PA)
Boring water can put us off getting hydrated (Niall Carson/PA)

It’s all well and good to say ‘drink lots of water’ but for some of us, that’s just plain boring. Try hydrating, cleansing juices to keep your skin hydrated from the inside.

Blend 1 stick celery, 2 inches of cucumber, 5 strawberries and a dash of quality coconut water for a scrumptious alternative.