When I moved to Doha, Qatar, a few years ago to teach English at the branch campus of an American University, I was surprised by how many of my new colleagues advised me on the importance—nay, necessity—of high quality sunglasses. The Middle Eastern country’s desert climate and proximity to the equator are a recipe for considerable eye strain, and it wasn’t long before I ditched my $20 Urban Outfitters knockabouts for a sturdy pair of polarized-lensed Persols.
As daily armor against the Arabian sun, this was a start, but ultimately not enough. It seemed that a mere walk from car to apartment, especially during the hot months (which are basically every month of the year except December through February), could wreak havoc on my skin and hair. Sand battered me and heat leached water out of my system. On bathroom stall doors at the university, dehydration charts were standard issue—they featured a color scale for urine, ranging from clear to amber (the danger zone), and reminded you to keep pushing fluids. Even with water coolers in every hallway, kidney stones were still a fairly common ailment amongst coworkers, that’s how serious the situation was.
I remained in Qatar for four years, and by year two, I wised up. I drank water whenever I spotted a cooler, and never left home without my trusty sunglasses. I pumped through bottles of Aveeno body lotion with the speed of summer lightning, but found my face had developed a kind of second skin—a scaly, faintly reptilian surface—which, while perhaps protective, was dull and impenetrable. The opposite of glowing.
While perusing the slightly-foreign-to-me offerings at a local Boots one day (Qatar hosts a number of UK-based Boots pharmacies, likely because the country was a British protectorate during most of the 20th century), I fell upon Dermalogica’s Antioxidant Hydramist. While some may question the redundancy in a name like Hydramist, double-moisture action was exactly what I was in the market for at the time. The addition of antioxidants? Why not eliminate free radicals along with my pesky facial scales? Two birds.
Developed in California in the mid-1980s, Dermalogica does well by its research-scientist style branding; it’s almost impossible to feel stupid while using (or paying for) their products. Part of their AGE Smart System, the Antioxidant Hydramist is designed to combat premature lines and wrinkles attributed to skin dryness. As a desert dwelling, computer-screen squinting professor who’d just turned 30? I was, indeed, a model candidate for the stuff.
Living up to its name, the Hydramist helped me turn the corner—a couple daily spritzes not only refreshed but also reconstituted my skin—prodding it back from parched earth to oasis. I don’t know exactly what chemical reactions precipitated this change (though White Tea, Vitamin E, Vitamin C complex, polypeptides, hyaluronic acid, pea, rose, and clove extracts all have supporting roles here), and truth be told, I don’t know that I care. It worked. My skin could absorb once more.
Upon return to my native soil, I’m happy to report that my trusty Qatar-bought bottle of Hydramist cleared US customs with me. But luckily for those dwelling in almost any clime, it’s available in over 80 countries worldwide.
Photo courtesy of author.