Spring and early summer give four-season climate dwellers the chance to experience nature in all its mid-70-degree glory. Also: the worst allergies.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that over 50 million Americans deal with allergies in some form every year. And when pollen and other common sneezing-fit triggers are at their most rampant, it can also mean managing uncomfortable, visibly irritated skin. Which is the last thing you want when you're dealing with a runny nose, trying to soothe an itchy throat, and convincing coworkers that no, you're not quietly crying at your desk.
Luckily, there are a handful of easy things you can do that will alleviate your allergies and help your skin look better in the process.
Here are 7 simple ways to get rid of allergy face:
1.) Don't get thirsty
If you find yourself blowing your nose to ease springtime congestion, try upping your water intake. Having more H2O in your system will thin your mucus, making it easier to get excess amounts out of your system.
"Definitely drink lots of water," said Clara Williams, an aesthetician and founder of the organic grooming brand Cultivar. "It'll help to flush you out and keep your toxic load at a minimum." And getting those toxins— like pollen— out will only help your recovery.
2.) Stay moisturized
Seasonal irritants don't just afflict your nose, eyes and lungs. If you're not taking care of your skin, allergens can do damage on your face too.
"Dry skin may have micro-cracks, making it more susceptible to environmental irritants," said Dr. Jared Jagdeo, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at UC Davis. "Compromise of the skin barrier is often a component of allergy season, and you can help prevent it by daily moisturization.”
3.) Layer up
If you have particularly sensitive skin, look for a moisturizer with occlusive ingredients. "They help to not only prevent moisture loss, but they also make an ever-so-thin layer on your skin so that it's not absorbing pollen or any other stressors like smog or dirt from the environment," Williams said.
Cultivar's Daily Moisturizer includes an occlusive ingredient called meadowfoam seed oil, but if any of your lady friends use Olay products, ask to steal a squirt. The lanolin in them works, too.
4.) Be gentle
The more abrasive and drying your skincare regimen, the worse your allergy face will get. "Gentle skincare is always the best way to limit future redness and irritation, starting with products that are fragrance free, or without heavy fragrances or additives," Jagdeo said. He points to Cetaphil's new men's skincare line, which he consulted on personally, as a great group of products that will go easy on your face.
5.) Cool off
If you're washing your face (or your body) with really hot water, make the switch to warm instead. "Hot water will inflame the skin, and it will also make it lose a lot more moisture," Williams said. "That will only further exacerbate the problem.”
6.) Clean house
There's a reason everyone makes a big cleaning push in spring: After a winter spent indoors, there can be a lot of dust lurking in the corners of your home. And that dust can be just as irritating as the pollen waiting for you outdoors.
7.) Wind down
Both Jagdeo and Williams recommend watching out for stress, in whatever form it might take, in springtime. "I recommend eating healthy, and getting as much sleep and exercise as possible while maintaining a gentle skincare regimen," Jagdeo said. Williams cautioned drinking lots of coffee or excess alcohol, and suggested eating lots of healthy fats, like avocados and olive oil.
"I generally think of those oils as your body having a cushion," she said. "Not like a fat cushion, just making sure that you have all of these good nutrients to help minimize the effects of stress in your body.”
And if you suffer from allergies, you need all the help you can get right now.