Hayfever truly is society’s great equaliser. No one among us is too powerful, too big, too rich or even too tough to be affected: pollen takes no prisoners.
Some of us merely get the odd sniffle, whereas there are the unlucky ones who only need to glance at a freshly mown lawn to come out in hives. It’s not a modern complaint at all – some 5,000 years ago, the Chinese were using the berries of the horse tail plant to combat what they called “plant fever”, while an Egyptian document dating back to 1650BC has some twenty remedies for difficult breathing including juniper, honey, and beer.
“Allergies can impact your skin in a lot of ways, and hay fever in particular is really associated with constant sneezing, itching and weeping eyes,” explained Dr Alexis Granite, consultant dermatologist at The Cadogan Clinic. “It’s also just general inflammation that makes you feel hot and bothered all over.”
Dr Granite also pointed out that hay fever can also run in tandem with, or be exacerbated by other seasonal allergies. “You might also be using a sunscreen more in the spring months that’s got a fragrance your skin doesn’t like, or the dust around your home or office can make things worse,” offered Dr Granite.
No need to batten down the hatches until autumn – see our expert guide to managing your seasonal symptoms below.
Strip back your skincare
“Now is not a time to be trying a lot of new products,” advised Dr Granite. “Fragrance in particular can really irritate the skin, but I would say to steer clear of new products in general as they may further sensitise your skin. Something like the La Roche Posay Toleraine range or Avene Tolerance range is ideal as they’re both exceptional gentle.”
Dr Granite said that if you’re used to using retinol, you should be okay to continue, but that excessive exfoliation should be avoided so as not to upset delicate skin. “Less really is more here, and give products time to work before giving up. It might take as much as seven days to give lasting results,” added Dr Granite.
Carry a mist
In terms of instant relief, your best option is something that’s going to cool and rehydrate the skin. “A face mist, especially one that is quite wet, so to speak, is a very good idea if you have bad hay fever,” noted Dr Granite. She went on to explain that the mist could help physically remove any pollen particles from your face, so be sure to throw one in your handbag to use after stepping outside. “Sensorially, they’ll also help calm your skin a little and help with that awful itching.”
Vogue recommends Evian Brumisateur Facial Spray, £3.49.
Give your nose special attention
Truly, your nose is the epicentre of your allergies, as inhaling pollen is what causes all the sneezes and sniffles. “If you use a balm around your nostrils, you can create almost a physical barrier to trap the pollen,” explained Dr Granite. “It’s actually a double benefit, because the balm will help lessen the amount of pollen you breathe in, but also soothe your nose which will probably be cracked and sore.” You can also use a cotton bud to put a little bit inside your nose – note only a little, and only just inside your nose – to help boost that barrier.
Vogue recommends Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm, £9.
Take care of your eyes
Many hay fever sufferers spend much of the summer insisting, “I’m not crying, really!” or hiding behind sunglasses. “The combination of your eyes weeping and itchy is very unpleasant,” said Dr Granite. “Carry some eye drops with you, but avoid ones that claim to brighten as they can be a little aggravating to the eyes sometimes. Hydrating eye drops will do the trick and will help to clean the eyes of pollen a little. I like Systane.” In the PM, make sure to add a super-nourishing eye cream into your routine to make up for all the furious rubbing of your eyes you’ll no doubt be doing throughout the day.
Vogue recommends Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Supercharged Eye Complex, £45.
Make your home a pollen-free zone
Those pesky pollen particles will cling to anything, so make sure you shower as soon as you get home, and change clothes, otherwise you’re just essentially walking in a personal hayfever bubble. “Do a very thorough and deep cleanse before bed to ensure you don’t get into bed with pollen still on your skin,” said Dr Granite. “Also, switch to hypoallergenic cotton bedding if you haven’t already. A fan might also be a good idea to run throughout the night to blow pollen away.”
Purifying the air is another consideration, and the Dyson Hot+Cool Purifier kills two birds with one stone, functioning both as a fan and a HEPA filter to remove pollen and other allergens from the air.
Otherwise, stock up on the non-drowsy antihistamines and check the daily pollen count before venturing out. A-choo!