How to handle the heat and humidity in the summertime great outdoors has always been a challenge for some of us.
As a child growing up in Tennessee who played outside every day, I learned a lot of lessons the hard way about how to cope with all kinds of weather.
Red heads like me and other fair skinned people have it rough because of burning, but lots of darker skinned people, too, have a hard time dealing with the oppressive heat and humidity of the Deep South if they’re not used to it.
Here are a few tips and tricks for how to handle the heat and humidity from a lifelong red head with sensitive skin.
Heat and Humidity Tip 1 - Stay hydrated.
Drink pure water and plenty of it. You should be drinking as much as possible, and more than you think you need to if you’re outside or in the water.
Especially if you’re drinking alcohol or sugary sodas, you must drink water.
Also, your body might feel cool if you’re swimming in the water, but it’s easy to get too much sun and not enough drinking water in your system. Drink drink drink water is tip number one for dealing with heat and humidity.
Also, don’t drink too much ice water. You want to drink cool water, but not too cold. Drinking too cold ice water can be too much for sensitive bodies. Better to stick with cool, not cold water. And drink a lot of it.
Heat and Humidity Tip 2 – Cover up.
Wearing a thin long sleeved / long skirt or pants garment will save your skin and keeps you a lot cooler than tank tops and shorts when you have to be out in the sun working.
It also keeps you from having to use so much sunscreen, which is always a pain no matter how good it is.
You can get this kind of gear at any outdoors store, and they come in plenty of styles from hiker girl to earth goddess to trendy, classic, or anything you can imagine.
If you're in the shade, you can get away with skimpier outfits, but full sun can be rough without protection.
You’ll also want to wear a hat. A summer hat is a necessity for working outdoors, and is helpful in keeping you cool and well shaded whatever you're doing.
Don’t make the mistake of wearing the wrong style of cowboy hat.
Those things can be brutally hot if you aren’t used to them. Go with a straw or light weight option, and don’t worry about your hair. We’ll get to that…
Heat and Humidity Tip 3 – Take a siesta midday.
Between 11 / 11:30 am until around 2 / 2:30 pm you should get out of the direct sun if you can.
Those hours are when the sun is the most intense, and if you’re sensitive, you can easily get too much of a good thing. Even wearing sunscreen, you are absorbing sunlight, and it can overheat you if you’re not used to it.
If at all possible, find a shady cabana or go inside for a midday rest, and save your heavy lifting for early or later in the day.
Heat and Humidity Tip 4 – Take advantage of early morning and evening hours.
Become an early riser or a stay up all nighter if your work schedule requires it.
The coolest part of the day is the early morning just before and after the sun comes up.
This is also a time of day that is less stressing on your body to be outside. So if you like to walk, run or work outside, the early morning is the best time.
If you just can’t get out of bed, late afternoon is ok, but it is usually still oppressively hot for a long while even after the sun goes down, because of the humidity.
Also, late afternoon and early evening is prime time for mosquitoes and other tiny little biting bugs we call “no see’ems” (pronounced no see-uhms).
These things bite and are so small that you can’t see them, hence the name “no see’ems.”
Avoid the bugs and heat by getting up early in the morning.
Heat and Humidity Tip 5 – Wear sport sunscreen for sensitive skin.
You will sweat. It will be a lot sometimes. When you can’t cover up with long sleeves, pick a sunscreen formula that is made for sensitive skin to lower your chance of breakout.
Reapply every 90 minutes or so, more if you’re in the water, and as soon as you’re inside for the day, take a shower and wash it off with a wash rag and mild soap, like Ivory, followed by a cotton ball of witch hazel for astringent and a sensitive skin lotion such as Lubriderm fragrance free.
This will cut down the oils that can trap pores and irritate your skin, and replenish the moisture you need to keep skin glowing and fresh. Plus the wash rag serves as a gentle exfoliant, which helps keep skin clean and clear.
Heat and Humidity Tip 6 – Use Aquaphor
Hydrate your skin and hair with Aquaphor.
If you do get too much sun, there’s nothing better to heal sunburn than Aquaphor.
I learned about this miraculous stuff when I was going through radiation treatments for breast cancer.
Tennessee Women’s Center at Centennial Hospital gave me a bunch of samples and I used a whole tube immediately after each treatment when I was putting my clothes back on.
It saved my skin.
Later I got a bad sunburn on my forehead the day before a big show, and I was sure it was going to blister and peel.
As a hail Mary, I slathered on a wad of Aquaphor and slept with it on there.
The next morning, the sunburn was completely gone and there was no peeling or redness at all. Amazing.
I also use it in moderation on my hair, which is dry and naturally curly. It keeps frizz down as well as moisturizes. Don’t use too much on hair, though, just a dime sized dab or less.
Aquaphor comes in tubes and tubs. I get the tubs, because they last longer and I like the feel of the product better in the tub.
Tube is obviously better for travel, and they do make small purse-sized containers in both tube and tub. Get you some. [links to my Amazon Affiliate page – commission earned].
Humidity and Heat Tip 7 – Get acclimated.
The worst thing you can do is stay in your air conditioned car or house all day and avoid the sun and outdoors entirely.
For one thing, from a survivalist point of view, you don’t want to be completely helpless in the heat.
Give yourself a little bit of tolerance by putting yourself outside as the temperatures rise in the early part of the day, or late in the afternoon.
This way your body is more in touch with your environment, and you’re better adjusted to the requirements of living or having an enjoyable visit in Nashville or your chosen city.
By building up a tolerance daily to the heat and humidity, you are preparing yourself to enjoy the outdoors without becoming so easily overwhelmed when the heat hits you.
Another important tip is to always bring a sweater or jacket when you’re going from inside to outside in Nashville.
It was explained to me that the reason people often get summer colds is from getting hot, sweating, and then going into a cold, air-conditioned room right away.
Going from hot to cold too fast causes your pores to close suddenly which is jarring to the body, and also can cause your skin to re absorb toxins it was trying to sweat out.
Whether this is true or not, the worst thing is to come into a freezing cold restaurant or theater when you’re dressed scantily for summer.
Try to bring a light shawl or jacket you can throw around your shoulders, or even sit on if you need to.
I recently met a native born Nashvillian in line at the County Clerk’s Office. While waiting, we struck up a conversation with a man who had moved to town five years ago from Northern California.
Mr. California said he was finally starting to get used to the heat and humidity of the Nashville summer, and the native Nashvillian said, “I still haven’t gotten used to the heat and humidity here, and I’ve lived here all my life.”
Don’t be a hero. Even locals get overheated. Bring water with you where ever you go, and drink it. If you’re feeling really hot, or start to feel dizzy or light headed, get to shade or somewhere cool indoors at once and sit down.
Drink pure water, and splash cool water on your face, insides of your arms, wrists, knees and even on your feet if that’s appropriate where you happen to be.
Don’t chug ice cold water, because it can be too shocking to the sensitive system, but do sip cool water to help cool your core body temperature.
Think slow and smooth. Nothing fast, especially don’t try to stand up too fast after getting over heated.
If you’re sick or someone passes out, you may be severely overheated or dehydrated, and you may need to seek medical attention.
Of course, as I am not a doctor all of the advice I am giving you is based on my own opinion and experience, and is in no way intended to be taken as medical advice, but simply as pointers on how this gal has survived this long as a red head in the South.
Please feel free to say hello in the comments below and introduce yourself. Are you new to town, or planning a visit to Nashville Music City, U.S.A.?
Get tickets to see a show at my private events venue The 7695 in West Nashville, and we’ll stay cool by hanging out in the shade down by the creek.
See you soon! Xo - Amanda
Every summer we host the Nashville Songwriting and Music Business Conference. Love writing and want to learn how to make it part of your sustainable business entrepreneurship? Visit our Songpreneurs website here to learn more.
Follow Amanda Colleen Williams on Amazon Music >>