The Universal Plight Of Dry Office Skin (& How To Fix It)

There is an especially cruel kind of white-collar suffering that occurs mainly between the months of November to March, depending on the extent of your office supervisor's god complex. You're wearing tank tops under your sweaters in case you need to shed your otherwise seasonally-appropriate turtleneck, your keyboard is sticky with the hand cream you need to apply 10 times a day, your T-zone is oily and your cheeks flaky, and you have to stash eye drops and an extra pair of contacts in your drawer. It's dry office-heating-system season, baby, and it's the worst.
"Our skin is primarily composed of water," says dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD, founder of Ava MD and the SKINxFIVE clinics. "In the winter, when temperature and moisture levels drop drastically, external air conditions have very low humidity. Combine that with artificial indoor heat, and you've got almost 100% dry air." The air quality is made worse by the fact that, when it's cold outside, most office buildings are pumped with heat for 24 hours straight — not because they're trying to kill you (probably), but because it simply requires too much time and energy to reheat an entire building every morning before you get to work.
Between that dense, dry heat and the lack of any fresh air from the outside, Dr. Shamban explains, the humidity levels in the air are at an extreme low. Suddenly, your usual morning skin routine doesn't suffice; you need more serum, more moisturizer, more... water. That's because, after just a short time indoors, the water in your skin is sucked out through the process of osmosis. "It literally just evaporates into thin air," she says. "An entire day in the office can wreak havoc."
That doesn't mean you have to quit your job just to keep your skin moisturized (unless, of course, you want to). Improve your work-life-good skin balance with the expert tips and product recommendations ahead: They'll help you stay hydrated until the long-awaited March day that the heat finally switches off, and ensure you become a workplace hero in the meantime. Employee of the Month, here you come.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Skin Care

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
Fashion
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Beauty
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
Documentary
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Documentary
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Comedy
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Documentary
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Politics
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
Film
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.