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. Making it a hot bed for high risk sun-related illnesses.

Being in steamy tropical weather means all parts of your body are going to sweat. And I mean all parts, like back of the knee kind of sweat.

It’s beyond the meat sweats.

When I first arrived in Singapore I noticed people on scooters and thinking, “Wow, that’s lazy.” I now recant my comment and think, “Man, those people are smart. I need a scooter in my life.” Yet, my personal goal of meeting my daily steps minimum is the only thing stopping me from getting one.

Sweating is part of daily life here in Singapore.

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.

In my first couple of months here, I thought being in a tropical climate wasn’t that bad. Mind you, when we arrived it was the rainy season. There was a decent amount of cloud cover and rain. Making it all very manageable.

This pulled the wool over my eyes having me think weather is merciful. Months later the dry season arrived. The intense heat was amplified. Back in the States I was never a fan of rain. Now, the rainy season is my favorite season.

The humidity feels similar to East Coast, USA during July and August. Where muggy and stale is the daily forecast. Staying cool in an air conditioned home to air conditioned cars to an air conditioned office was the daily routine (and then in reverse during the evening). We had two months of complaining about humidity.

But how does one live in a hot, humid, clammy and steamy climate yearly? If you’re visiting or moving to a humid area here’s what to know before you go.

Singapore Sarah Emery

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

Pick your home strategically & keep mold and mildew far away

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Living in a high rise is the norm for many in Singapore. The best is to choose a condo that is high enough to get a breeze (providing it isn’t blocked by neighboring buildings). Having a constant breeze through a home is necessary. As running the air cons all day is not practical, nor necessary.

3 Must Haves that Fight Humidity

Throw shade on your windows.

Which windows get a lot of sun?

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.

Get a good and cool night’s sleep with blackout curtains. Lighter colors are best, as they reflect sunlight, opposed to darker colors that 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 an option for those windows that don’t receive direct sunlight (where blackout curtains aren’t necessary), but do need a bit of shade.

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

Keep it breezy and eliminate moisture

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.

Opening windows, having fans, dehumidifiers and small dehumidifying agents are a great way to combat bacterial terrors.

Keep it breezy with ceiling and standing fans to create air flow. Proper ventilation is so important when living in humidity.

Create a cross breeze of air through your home. You want to pull and push air through your space.

You can create a cross breeze by putting a large fan in a window that blows air out and open a door or window with another fan on the other side, that blows air in, to generate a cross current. This will remove stale air.

A good window fan that has both, an exhaust and intake setting with multiple speeds like Bionaire window fan helps keep a refreshing stream of air flow.

Fans in general are just good. They help cool the room cool and you as well.

I love the Genesis 43 Inch Oscillating Digital Tower Fan. It’s sleek & modern with minimal noise, 6 speeds and a programmable timer.

Combat the air by removing the moisture from it.

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

Note: running the AC will not remove the moisture from the room. Yes, it will make it cooler, but does not remove moisture out of the air.

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 quite and efficient which helps for sleeping.

If you are looking to dehumidify a larger space or basement area.

Take a look at Amazon’s best sellers and strong reviews of hOmeLabs 70 pint dehumidifier.

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

We use these small agents, when we are away on trips. They are great for bathrooms and closets.

Simple Life Hacks for Living in Humidity.

Air dry your laundry. It’s a MONEY SAVER (on the power bill)! Laundry machines are big humidity creators. Thankfully, our laundry machines are outside on the back porch. Unlike, back in the States (and like most people here) we use a clothes drying rack to air dry our laundry.

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

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 are not able to perform as expected. So keeping up the maintenance on our aircons is key for surviving humidity.

A pool is very common among the apartment buildings. Most condos in Singapore are equipped with one and they are lifesavers. There are also so MANY MALLS in Singapore; which is nice alternative to catching AC in the heat.

Get plants for your home. Get your green thumb ready- don’t worry you won’t be needing to install a greenhouse. But a few plants can reduce humidity, purify the air, assist with restful sleep and decrease mold.

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

It’s soul-crushing not being able to spend a lot of time outside. As I love being outside.

Training for a race is a whole new ballgame in humidity. The last race Tim and I ran was 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 before 10 am and after 4 pm.

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. Here, I found a park that I can run around the circumference that has strategically placed public water fountains.

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. 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 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) 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

Embrace your Monica.

Hair Tips that Help with Humidity

One of my first jobs as a Buyer, was for a leading, hair salon company in the States. At the time, we had 800 locations and one of my favorite and top brands to purchase was Kerastase. Their high quality items have a broad range of products that cater to high processed, color treated and a variety of types of hair.

Kerastase Discipline Shampoo, Conditioner and Masque are the leaders in the beauty world for taming those Monica Frizz Humidity Hair Days.

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. Since then, I’ve cut off most of the colored and brittle hair off.

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 my makeup brushes!!

My last little hair humidity tip is, I also limit my time with the hairdryer. I also don’t need to turn my bathroom into a sauna. Also, trying to keep my hair away from heat 🙂 Now that’s damage control! LOL!

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!

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

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