New Ways to Cool Down When You're Sweating Buckets
Because you can't control heat waves, humidity or hormones, here are some fresh ideas to keep you from melting into a puddle.
Image of Serena Williams courtesy Mission Athletecare
Cover Your Back
The back of your neck, that is. "The blood vessels in that area are close to the surface of the skin," says New York dermatologist Michele Green, MD
(that's why you can feel your pulse there). When you place something cold in that area, it constricts the blood vessels, causes nerves to signal "brrr..." to the brain and lowers your body temperature (the wrists and the back of the knees are other pulse points, but they're not as effective at providing instant relief, Green says). Instead of an ice cube, which Green adds can cause a mild "cold burn," try a towel soaked in ice water. For a longer-lasting, less-drippy chill, you could try a Mission Enduracool towel
. When wet, the hollow fibers in the proprietary wicking fabric absorb liquid, circulate it throughout the towel and allow it to evaporate. This process causes the towel to feel about 30 degrees colder than when dry, and the effect lasts for up to two hours—or until you re-soak it.
Rinse in the Right Temperature
Taking a cold shower on a steamy day is practically a no-brainer. But for most people, a cold blast feels like too much of a shock, says Green—so they can't bring themselves to take the plunge. Good news: The water doesn't have to be ice-cold. In fact, when you get out of an arctic shower, your body may actually generate an excess of heat in order to make up for the sudden loss. Green suggests tepid water, which is more comfortable and just as effective at helping you cool off.
Photo courtesy of Cool Universe
Stuff Your Bra
These falsies come with an added benefit. Cool Girls
bra inserts are filled with non-toxic crystals and covered in cotton fabric. You soak them in water for about 20 minutes, wait another few for the fabric cover to dry, then pop them in your bra. The company says they usually last four to five hours. Coldfront pouches
accomplish the same goal, and while they aren't specifically meant to be worn in your undergarments, we think they look and feel like silicone breast implants. They're filled with a non-toxic polymer gel and come in a carrying case that keeps them cool for up to 12 hours. You reactivate them after use by storing the case in the freezer overnight.
...or Chill Your Palms
You can also simply hold on to the Coldfront or Cool Girls packs. The palms—which are hairless and full of blood vessels that lie close to the surface—are an efficient place for the body to shed heat. "They turn into little radiators," says H. Craig Heller, a biology professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Heller and his colleagues have shown that cooling hands with a special mitt can boost athletic performance and endurance, and delay the onset of fatigue. Our muscles start to falter when we overheat, but in one of their studies
, those who consistently cooled their hands for three minutes between exercise sets were able to do significantly more push-ups and pull-ups at the end of the three-week trial than when they started.
Slip into Something More Comfortable
Your body is remarkably effective at regulating its temperature by releasing heat and producing sweat, which then evaporates off the skin to make you feel cooler (unfortunately, hearing that it's normal to perspire at 1.5 liters an hour
—3.5 liters per hour for those acclimatized to the tropics—provides little comfort when you've got drops rolling down your back). Clothing inhibits this natural process, reducing the amount of heat leaving the body and preventing sweat from evaporating, says George Havenith, PhD, a professor of environmental physiology and ergonomics at Loughborough University in the U.K. Exposing as much skin as possible isn't always practical, given the skin's vulnerability to UV rays, so your next best option is to wear loose, flowing clothing—linen is a good choice. "Even when there's no breeze, the movement of the fabric when you walk or swing your arms will create a bellows effect to pump out hot air and bring fresh air to the skin's surface," Havenith says.
Reach for an Emergency Antiperspirant
You're striding into your office when you realize...you forgot to put on antiperspirant this morning. Don't sweat it (seriously, don't, because the trick we're about to share won't work if your skin is wet
). Head directly to the pantry and find two green-tea bags to covertly stick under each arm. The theory is that the tannic acid in the tea may dissolve the outer layer of the skin just enough to create some blockage of the pores, says David Pariser, MD, a dermatologist and a founding board member of the International Hyperhidrosis Society
. It probably won't be as effective as aluminum compounds in your roll-on, but at least you won't need to keep your arms glued to your sides all day.
Eat Like an Actress Preparing for a Beach Scene
Fruits and vegetables have a high percentage of water, which will keep you hydrated and cool. They're also easier to digest than high-fat or high-protein foods. The energy that your body exerts while breaking down cookout staples like hot dogs and hamburgers causes you to create more metabolic heat—leaving you sweaty as well as stuffed.
Next: 9 surprising reasons you can't stop sweating