It's Hot Out, but This Surprising, Old-School Accessory Is My Secret for Staying Cool

This comeback was not on my 2022 bingo card.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

It’s So Hot Out, I’ve Resorted to Using This Old-School Accessory to Keep Me Cool — and It Really Works
Photo: Getty Images

My first understanding of the hot, sticky, and humid New York City summers came when I watched Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. It's merely the setup for the movie, but a relentless heatwave results in the protagonist, Richard Sherman, sending his family off to Maine while he is forced to stay in the city for work. Throughout the 105-minute runtime, the swamp, wet air, and heat radiating off the asphalt are incredibly visceral.

Every New York City summer feels like that, but this year is the worst it's been — at least in my lifetime. There are two types of sweat that I endure every time I leave the house. The first is one that forms immediately, creating dots of moisture along areas like my upper lip and above my brows. The second type is the dripping sweat that rolls down my face from my hairline — something I had previously only experienced during intense workouts. Both types have led to breakouts, which dermatologist Dr. Hadley King says is a common consequence of excessive perspiration. "Sebum production can increase with sweating in hot environments, which contributes to clogged pores and breakouts," she tells InStyle. "It also creates an environment that is conducive to bacterial growth, and this also can contribute to breakouts."

So, in an old-timey plot twist I never saw coming, I now carry around a handkerchief. I had Lunya's Washable Silk Scarf laying around, and while I could've used any old fabric, it was the obvious choice since silk is gentle on the skin, absorbs less moisture, and is very smooth — causing less friction that could lead to or exacerbate acne. Silk pillowcases and sheets have taken off as the better-for-your-skin bedspread choice, so I felt pretty confident in my handkerchief of choice.

Washable Silk Scarf
Courtesy

Shop now: $45; lunya.co

A handkerchief can be a useful method to counter the skin-sabotaging effects of heat and humidity, but not all materials are equally suitable. "We want to be as gentle on our skin as possible," Dr. King says. "This means silk, soft cotton, or microfiber [materials] are good options." Besides picking the right material, she recommends washing the handkerchief frequently to "avoid it harboring bacteria."(Silk is usually dry clean only, which is why I opted for Lunya's machine washable material.) Lastly, in keeping with not spreading germs or creating friction on the skin, she suggests blotting instead of wiping.

Armed with that expert information, you can now assuredly find and use a handkerchief if you are, similarly to me, perpetually dripping sweat these days. You might already have something suitable at home — but if not, below are two other great options.

Lilysilk Mulberry Silk Handkerchief

Shop now: $15 (Originally $20); lilysilk.com

Dryki Sweat Absorbing Handkerchiefs

Shop now: $15; amazon.com

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles