Living in Humidity
Expat lifestyle

A Survival Guide to Living in a Humid Climate

Top tips to living in a humid climate

Singapore is hot and humid. AND if that wasn’t enough, this small city state is located one degree north of the equator that pulls in an average sweaty humid conditions of 84 percent. Thus, making it a hotbed for high risk sun-related illnesses, and needing extra devices to ward off mildew, mold and other harmful bacteria.

Sweating is part of daily life in Singapore.

There are two seasons in Singapore (the rainy and dry season). The weather forecast is a consistent hot & humid, so living in steamy tropical weather, will have all parts of your body sweating. And I mean all parts, like back of the knee kind of sweat.

It’s beyond the meat sweats.

Figuring out how to keep cool, healthy and create a suitable living lifestyle in humid conditions, is paramount for surviving the sauna like climate.

How our bodies responds to humidity …. it’s Science.

When we overheat our nervous systems reacts by changing our blood flow and breathing patterns. It also signals to millions of sweat glands to get to work by secreting water and chemical compounds. This is our bodies natural response to cool us down.

When the surrounding air is humid, our sweat will not evaporate into the air. Think of the humid air, like a wet sponge. It can’t soak up any more liquid. Hence our poor clothing takes one for the team. Soaking in our sweat at best it can.

A Survivor’s Guide on How to Live in Humidity Comfortably

Humidity for many is uncomfortable, so we seek cooler areas (air conditioning). But living in an airconditioned environment isn’t exactly healthy, as is living in high humidity being a health risk. So, how do we find the correct balance?

Singapore Sarah Emery

What Should the Humidity in a House Be?

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Of course everyone’s comfort level is different, but the EPA Environmental Protection Agency advises the relative humidity should be between 30-50% HR. This will provide the ideal rate for health and comfort.

A simple way to measure a room’s humidity is to use a hygrometer. This easy to use tool will assist in managing the right temperature levels.

This device assists year round. If you live in a seasonal climate, a hygrometer is helpful in winter, when the relative humidity indoors should be 40-50%.

Bonus Tip: These devices help keep the right humidity for keeping instruments at their ideal temperature (pianos, guitars, etc).

How to strategically live in humidity

Keep the sweaty, sauna-like weather conditions outside.

If you’re moving to a year round humid climate or live in seasonal humidity. It’s best to have a home with;

  • proper ventilation (HVAC system)
  • good insulation (HVAC system)
  • air conditioning (air cons)

These key factors will make a huge difference on keeping good health, preventing mold and mildew on furniture, walls, and on clothes.

Don’t forget to use your senses when inspecting a potential house to live in as well. You can usually feel damp air, smell mold instantaneously and see mold on walls. When mold is present, it’s a good indications of water damage or leaks.

What is Causing Humidity in the Home?

The obvious guilty party is the weather. Change in temperature and increase in the relative humidity are the culprits.

Besides the weather. It could be, what is lacking inside a home that can be the issue (installation, ventilation and air conditioning). If that’s the case, the only way to win over humidity, is to renovate and upgrade. Which could be upgrading the ventilation, replacing moldy and mildewy walls, putting in windows, upgrading leaky pipes, and or installing an air conditioning system.

How to Decrease Humidity in your Home

A little humidity is good, but not when it becomes uncomfortable and unhealthy. Here are solutions to decrease the heat and lower the moisture in the air.

Throw shade on your windows.

Stop suffering from indoor heat by keeping the sun away with a good set of blinds, (black out) curtains or solar screens. They will drastically keep the heat down and you and your family cooler.

While blackout curtains are the eye masks for rooms (and assist in getting a good night’s sleep) they may not be your decorating style. Lighter colored curtains are a great alternative as they reflect sunlight. Darker colors absorb the heat from the sun.

Best Home Fashion curtains offer an array of sizes and colors of curtains that are energy efficient, and of high quality.

Solar screens are another option. Solar shades by Springblinds can make custom sizes and have a lot of variety of colors.

Keep it breezy.

Dust mites and mold & mildew thrive in humidity and stale environments.

Stale and moist air are the breeding grounds for mildew, mold, odor and allergens. Let’s not forget the little critters (ants, cockroaches, silverfish) they invite to the moisture party too.

Stop bacterial growth and critter invasion by improving the ventilation immediately.

It’s vital to have proper ventilation when living in humidity. So keeping it breezy with ceiling and standing fans, are your answers to keep stale air at bay.

Create a cross breeze of air through your home. By putting a large fan in a window that blows air out and opening a door or a different window and placing another fan that blows air in. This will generate a cross current of air flow.

A good window fan that has both, an exhaust and intake setting with multiple speeds like Holmes Dual 8″ Blade Twin Window Fan will help keep a refreshing stream of air flowing.

The Genesis 43 Inch Oscillating Digital Tower Fan is a sleek & modern fan with minimal noise, 6 speeds and a programmable timer.

Invest in a good dehumidifier.

We use a dehumidifier in the bedrooms, as they significantly reduce the moisture (created by the bathroom) which helps with the clothes in closets.

Depending on the size of the room, and the amount of moisture that’s in the air. This will determine what size dehumidifier to purchase.

Combat the humidity by removing the moisture from it.

For example, here in Singapore our living areas are smaller than rooms back in the States. So a smaller dehumidifier that holds 1 gallon to use in a 500 sq. foot room to combat a moderately damp conditions (60%-70% humidity) will work perfectly.

Check out Pro Breeze Mini dehumidifier. It’s compact and effective for a small room 1200 Cubic Feet (150 sq ft). This little machine automatically shuts off when full, is quiet and efficient which helps for sleeping.

If you are looking to dehumidify a larger space, like a basement area (1500 sq. ft) with 90%-100% extremely wet humidity conditions. A more industrial type dehumidifier that holds 4-5 gallons of water will be more in order to do the job.

Take a look at Amazon’s best sellers and strong reviews Ivation Energy Star Humidifer

Small and mighty dehumidifying agents for small enclosed spaces can easily remove dampness (& without the use of electricity) DampRid Moisture Absorber.

They are great for bathrooms and closets.

There’s also an environmentally friendly little dehumidifier. This Eva Dry Wireless agent can pull moisture out of tiny spaces. For example, if the fan in your bathroom can’t reach under your sink, this Eva Dry Wireless device is small and strong enough for the job.

Simple Life Hacks for Living in Humidity.

Air dry your laundry

I know, I know, this is very uncommon in the States, even though drying racks are very commonly used globally.

When our American friends come to visit. Each have a similar response of, “I don’t want my clothes to be stiff.” To which I understand and agree. The way around that is to dry clothes outside with breeze and indirect sun. Although, I will be fully transparent and say, we do sometimes put our big pool towels in the dryer.

In any case, dryer laundry machines are big humidity creators, which drying racks are not. They also don’t add to the electric bill.

This Foldable Clothes Drying is very popular, low in cost and has over 4,000 positive reviews.

Have a good air conditioning system.

Air con units are a savor here in Singapore. It’s the norm’ to have mandatory maintenance scheduled every quarter written into rental agreements. It’s such a life-comfort disruption when one or all of the units are not able to perform as expected. So keeping up the maintenance on our aircons is key for surviving humidity.

Get a green thumb.

Get plants for your home. You won’t be needing to install a greenhouse. But a few plants can reduce humidity while simultaneously purifying the air. Which can assist with restful sleep and decrease mold. Fair warning. Too many plants in one area of your home will create humidity. So spread them out.

Plants combat humidity

6 Plants that Reduce Humidity Indoors

a) Fern – this Side Show Bob top mop look-alike plant regulates a good balance of humidity levels while fighting off air pollutants. This air pollutant fighter does well in humidity and prefers indirect sunlight.

b) Spathiphyllum (Peace lily) – It has looks and power. This gorgeous plant loves humidity and thrives in this type of environment. It’s superpower is the ability to absorb water vapor through its leaves and can remove air pollutants with little sunlight. This powerful crusader is a perfect indoor plant to combat humidity.

c) A Reed palm – Just like the Peace Lily this plant will also purify the air of your home. These plants do well in a shady area and in the light. It’s ideal because it’s fairly low maintenance and ideal for indoors.

d) Hedera (Ivy) – this vine loves to be elevated to fight off mold and formaldehyde. Raise it to the ceilings where most humidity sits and let it absorb those water vapors from up above.

e) Spider plant – Mostly seen in a lot of offices. It’s low maintenance and can remove a high portion of air pollutants .

f) Tillandsia (epiphyte) – This plant can absorb water and nutrients from the air. Without root, it will absorb humidity in the room like a sponge.

5 Tips for OutDoor Activities in Humidity

Tim Unsell Running Singapore

As an outdoor enthusiast, it’s soul-crushing limiting my outdoor life.

Training for a race is a whole new ballgame in humidity. The last race Tim and I ran was for the first Tough Mudder in Asia (Philippines). Training was a battle way beyond the physical. It’s mental toughness that is best to accept the humidity isn’t going anywhere. So being a smarter runner is absolutely necessary.

1) Run in the early morning or evening. Exercise outdoors before 10 am and after 4 pm. Or, opt to run in a gym on a treadmill.

Sarah Emery Tough Mudder Philippines

2) Hydrate a lot and often with ice & electrolytes. If you are like me and prefer not to run holding or having a bottle of water on your person. Map out a running area with public drinking water fountains. Thankfully, I have found a park that I can run around the circumference and has public water fountains every few kilometers.

3) Shade & sunnies (whatever you call sunglasses). Block that direct sun. I’ve heard of some people putting their hats in the freezer before using them for a run (let me know if you try this). Also, be strategic about the shade. I’m constantly crossing the street where it’s most shady.

4) Dri fit clothing are your new best friend.

5) Monitor your heart rate (duh). Just be aware humidity increases your heart rate. Making it harder for the body to cool down because sweat doesn’t evaporate. In very high conditions, HR can increase up to 10 beats per minute in temps of 75F to 90F. I like to keep my exercising heart rate around 110 – 120. I know I can run for 30 minutes at this rate (in humidity) comfortably and without keeling over. To figure out your heart rate, count the number of pulses your heart beats in 15 seconds. Then multiply this number by 4.

6 Must Do’s for Living in Humidity

1) Stay inside. Before you think I’m telling you to become a hermit and say goodbye to society. Being indoors during crucial times, is an easy solution to avoid the sun intensity peaks of UV radiation that could lead to sun skin damage, premature aging and the big C. Skin Cancer. As mentioned before Singapore is close to the equator. Harmful ultraviolet UV levels can be particularly dangerous during 10 am to 3 pm. This doesn’t mean turn down those lunch dates. Just limit the time in the sun to a minimum, especially during the hours of 10 am to 3 pm.

2) Keep hydrated by drinking a lot of water. When out & about having water on your person is helpful. Your skin and body will thank you.

3) Take a cool shower. Not turning on the water heater before a shower is fine with me. There are days (especially after exercising) that I am so hot and having a cool shower is pure heaven. Plus cool water help shrink pores. SKIN WIN!

4) Finding the right antiperspirant that matches with your body is crucial.

Secret Antiperspirant Clinical Strength for women is very effective.

For the men, there’s Degree Clinical Protection Antiperspirant and Deodorant .

5) Protect yourself. Anything that provides an extra layer of shade (besides SPF) against direct sun is necessary. Protect your skin from the sun that gives skin cancer. Rain or shine carry an umbrella. It’s a life saver when there’s no shade outside and you have to walk down the block(s). Wear SPF & UV rays sun screen, especially on the exposed skin areas.

I’m a huge fan of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Facial Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 70.

It’s non-comedogenic, Oil-free & PABA-Free Weightless Sun Protection and comes in 1.4 fl. oz. Which is great for travel.

Also, COOLA Organic Sunscreen Body Spray has certified organic ingredients, SPF 30, Ultra Sheer and water resistant.

Hair, Makeup & Clothing for humid climates

Hair Tips that Help with Humidity

When I started my Buyer career. I landed a job for a leading, hair salon company in the States. At the time, we had 800 locations across the nation. One of my favorite and top brands is Kerastase. Their high quality hair products not only have a broad range that cater to high processed, color treated and a variety of types of hair. But it was how Kerastase products rejuvenated my locks into silk, that made me a super fan.

Kerastase Discipline Shampoo, Conditioner and Masque are the leaders in the beauty world for taming those frizz filled hair.

Or, you can simply pony up your do. A beautiful french braid is also a quick alternative to low maintenance updos.

PRO TIP: At the end of your shower, wash your hair with cold water. It will close your hair’s cuticle, which will the reduce fluffiness that comes from humidity and adds extra shine to your hair.

On a side note of hair in humidity: Humidity will always fluff out bleached and porous hair. Using products can and will help reduce a fluff ball hair style.

As of late, I’ve noticed my hair is more manageable and low maintenance because I’ve completely stopped all chemical treatments.

My hair used to be very long and very bleached. The mid-length down to the ends were very ashy. Some people asked if I had hair extensions. Nope! It was all my own hair – every bit of crunchy, dry and destroyed hair strand. By bleaching and coloring my hair, I was making my hair very porous. Which allowed humidity to fill, frizz and fluff it up. Humidity had a heyday with my colored & bleached hair.

After 2 years of growing my hair out. I almost have a full head of hair that’s my natural color. Humidity doesn’t affect my virgin hair and I couldn’t be happier. It’s also a relief on my wallet too. Having bleached hair (for me) meant a lot of toners, purple shampoo, and treatments every 2-3 weeks, because my natural hair is a level 9 (which is almost black). And when I didn’t tone or treat my hair, it would turn very brassy-yellow- gold-orange-color. Worst look ever.

My new found hair products that I’m totally digging on Ethique’s bars for shampoo, conditioner and body washes.

Not only does my hair and skin love these products, but they are plastic free!!! AND they are great for travel. Liquid free, no bottles needed – WINNING ALL AROUND!

PRO TIP: These bars are also great to use for cleaning makeup brushes!!

My last little hair humidity tip is; limit your time with the hairdryer. Not only does it keep heat styling at minimum but it also decreases turning your bathroom (or where ever you do your hair) into a sauna. Talk about damage control….. ba, dun, dun, tsss.

Best Makeup Tips for Hot Humid Weather

Let’s be honest, the ultimate goal is, not having sun damage skin!!

SPF for everything!

Spoiler alert! In humidity, get used to the dewy look, whether you want it or not. The reality is, it’s hot it’s humid and you’re human. You will sweat.

So, sunscreen is a definite must have. I prioritize that it’s in both of my moisturizer and foundation. For me, this is a non negotiable consumer cosmetic choice. I already have a sun spots on my face, I don’t need anymore 🙂

For moisturizer I really like Neutrogena’s Oil Free Moisture with Broad Spectrum SPF 35.

It’s not greasy, nor thick like regular sunscreen, my skin approves and it’s water based.

PRO TIP: Look at the 1st ingredient of your foundation and moisturizers. Most likely they are either water based or oil based. Science proves they don’t mix well. If mixed, …. you may have a weird gloppy goop on your face. So ensure your foundation and moisturizer choice is both water or oil (no mixing).

My go to foundation is Maybelline Fit Me Matte Poreless.

It comes in 40 shades, works well with my skin, SPF 18 and water based. Plus it covers up those sun spots I have – ugg.

I also put on SPF 50 on exposed areas (legs, shoulders, and arms). It provides good UVA & UVB protection.

Once that sun goes down it’s a whole new world. During the evening I may amp up my makeup a bit.

An alternative solution for reducing sweat. Botox.

For those who want to go the extra mile and reduce or possibly eliminate excessive sweating. Botox might be a possible solution.

And before my Mom or anyone asks, “No, I’ve never had botox.” I’m still sweating and suffering like most. Since I’ve never done it, obviously I don’t have experience with it nor promoting it, but here’s an article by Health Line to read up on the topic. Click here.

Clothes for Humidity

Goodbye pants hello dresses. I was never was one for zippers anyways. But that’s me 😉

Light and loose clothing is best. The key is to allow air to circulate. Breathable fabrics like linen, cotton and silk are great for humidity. Though cotton absorbs sweat quickly and wearing a cotton shirt with sweat absorbed spots is not cute.

Buutttt, when the sun goes down, jeans and cotton are fine. Skinny jeans are the devil, me thinks.

Check out Baleaf sun protection for women, and men. The collections are great for travel and outdoor sports and activities.

There you have it. Your guideline on how to live in a humid climate.

Humidity affects everyone differently and for some it takes more time to acclimate than others. My husband is still trying to fully acclimate (it may never happen). After being outside, he’ll still sweat an hour after sitting in air conditioning. We are adaptable human beings and living in a humid climate takes slight adjustments.

To surviving and thriving! To whatever the life altering challenge may be!

Outdoor enthusiast thriving in the expatriate traveling lifestyle. Looking to connect with your sense of adventure.


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