With many people staying in and working at home, easy-care and long-blooming houseplants are a trend these days. Indoor plants not only brighten up your home decor, but they can also be a great natural air-purifier to improve your mental health and overall well-being. However, can turning your home into an indoor jungle improve your skin as well? Read on below to find out what a recent study and plant lovers say.
Thanks to comprehensive research performed by NASA, we already know that keeping plants indoors can nix up to 87% of air toxins in a single day. This is ideal for breathing and our general health, but the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) — in collaboration with Dr. Curtis Gubb and the UK’s University of Reading — decided to take that research a bit further and found that indoor plants can also positively affect our skin.
Taking a Closer Look at the Study
This study by NASA concluded that “plants increase the humidity through the natural process of evapo-transpiration — water loss from the soil and plant leaves.”
Because of this, RHS chief horticultural scientist Tijana Blanusa wrote, “House plants may be a simple and affordable way to reduce air dryness indoors and alleviate symptoms of dry skin, while providing multiple other benefits – for human psyche and physical health.”
Exactly how much evapo-transpiration takes place depends on the plant size and type, as well as the room they’re housed in. For example, a 50cm by 30cm peace lily emits 100 mL or more of water every single day. To put that into perspective, that volume is equivalent to two bottles of Missha’s Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule.
Of course, not all that moisture ends up in your skin, but it does permeate the air and make for a more humid environment.
“This does make sense because any additional moisture added to the air will affect the humidity and any increase in humidity helps our skin to not dry out as much,” notes Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. “[However], the significance of this effect needs more work. We need to know more about the exact number of plants required to elicit an effect on a room scale.”
Dr. Robb Akridge, a microbiologist and founder of the Clarisonic, agrees completely with Dr. King. “Yes, the study makes sense,” he says, “but you must choose your plants carefully because some plants want a very humid environment — too humid for our comfort. Others want it super dry and don’t give off much water; think cactus.”
“Thirsty” plants are particularly good for increasing humidity in a space, says Dr. King. These are plants that require lots of water to grow, and plants with larger surface areas that can expel more water. The study found that peace lilies and ivy performed the best, with areca palm, rubber plant, and spider plant also performing well.
To really test the study’s conclusion that living with plants can positively impact skin, we spoke to three serious plant lovers who’ve filled their homes to the brim. Miriam Schmid, who’s based in Lucerne, Switzerland, started her collection with a modest amount of houseplants and quickly grew it into an impressive display.
“To be surrounded by nature at home is the most beautiful thing. Plants change the energy, the air, and the vibes in a positive way. I need the plants to be grounded,” she says. “[As for skin], I have 70% humidity in my house because of the plants, and also increased oxygen. I notice that my skin is not dry anymore, especially in winter when the heating system is on.”
Schmid also speculates that her skin might be improved because her stress levels are lower due to the plants making her feel happy and relaxed. In the end, she can’t say definitively if the increase in plants correlates directly to her improved skin, but she has seen a positive change that’s worth noting.
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What’s also worth noting is that many people who have plants in their home also keep humidifiers running. Jess Mederos, a stylist who lives in Brooklyn, is one of those people.
“I have a humidifier for all my tropical plants that runs constantly. This has definitely had a positive impact on my skin, especially in the winter when my skin can get very dry and cracked,” she tells us. “My skin has improved in the last five years. I can’t say I think the plants themselves have changed my skin, but I can’t say they haven’t.”
Like Schmid, she says the plants do make her happy, which she thinks has a positive effect on her skin quality.
Peonie, who’s based in San Francisco and goes by the IG handle, The Happy Planter, actually noted that her skin has been a little off lately due to some ongoing stress. For her, though, plants have become a very important, even inspirational, part of her life.
“I think, if anything, having plants themselves gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel better mood-wise when I see growth from them. Overall, if I’m feeling better, I am able to take better care of myself and eat healthier and that helps my skin a lot,” she says. “I think the more we learn to take care of other things, we can learn to take care of ourselves better. The more green in my life, the healthier I seem to be every day.”
Thanks to the RHS study, we have some scientific data that indicates indoor plants can improve skin quality by way of increasing humidity levels in a space. That said, exactly how much our dermis is impacted by plants directly depends heavily on the type of plant, our home, and whatever else is going on in our lives. At the end of the day, though, we can all probably agree that surrounding ourselves with nature and nurturing life can foster a deep sense of happiness within ourselves — and that’s always a good thing.