The Best Humidifiers for Dry Skin and Stuffy Sinuses
The best humidifiers for dryness and irritation
Keep waking up with dry skin and stuffy sinuses? Try a humidifier. Adding moisture to your room can make a big difference in how you look and feel, especially if you have dry nasal and sinus passages, and are uncomfortable during the arid winter months, explains Clifford W. Bassett, MD, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York and a clinical instructor at the New York University School of Medicine.
Humidifiers make for easier breathing when you or your kids have a cold, too. Just be sure to clean them frequently, Dr. Bassett says, to reduce mold and bacteria growth that can trigger allergies and asthma.
To help you feel great all winter, we road tested both cool- and warm-mist humidifiers. (You can use either, Dr. Bassett says; they work equally well.) Read on to find the best pick for you.
Best warm mist: Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier
Humidifiers can be a nightmare to keep clean; not so with this warm-mist model from Vicks. The basin—which holds 12 hours worth of water—detaches for easy scouring. This unit comes with a medicine cup so you can add an inhalant that produces a soothing, medicated vapor.
Best for kids: Penguin Ultrasonic Cool-Mist Humidifier
The Scoop: This humidifier is so darn cute that you’ll be surprised to find that it actually works well. The cool mist is perfect for young ones (it eliminates the risk of scalding), and the device is quiet enough to not disturb sleeping babies. The machine automatically shuts off when the water tank is empty, so you have total peace of mind. Bonus: It’s made with anti-microbial plastic, which reduces mold and bacteria growth by up to 99.9%.
Best for the office or dorm: ONUEMP Cactus Humidifier
Set this cute cactus humidifier on the desk at your office, or on the nightstand beside your bed. It’s not only an adorable decorative addition to any work or home space, but it also works to kill bacteria and increases humidity to help prevent colds, allergies, and dryness. Bonus: It has a USB port, so you can conveniently use your computer or laptop to charge it when you’re on the road and without access to a power outlet.
Best overall winner: Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Moisture Humidifier
To buy: Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Moisture Humidifier ($68; amazon.com)
The Scoop: Low humidity can lead to dry skin, itchy eyes, and irritated sinuses; it can even dry out the mucous membrane lining of your nasal passages, making you more susceptible to respiratory infections during cold and flu season. (Between 30 and 50 percent humidity is the sweet spot; higher can allow mold to grow.) Turn the dial on this secret weapon, which uses UV light to kill microbes that might be in the water.
Bonus: Keeping your humidifier clean and mold-free is crucial: This model is also a snap to wash, either by hand or in the dishwasher.
Best for small spaces: VAVA Cool Mist Humidifier
Perfect for an office desk or a bedside table, this little number is sleek and sophisticated, and works in a variety of tight spaces, from apartments to cubicles to bathrooms. The slim shape and lightweight tank also make quick water refills a breeze!
Best for while you sleep: MistAire Silver Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
If the thought of sleeping with a machine bubbling and beeping is awful, this MistAire model is for you. Features include whisper-quiet operation, a night light function, and automatic shutoff once you’ve hit the hay. Quieter beeps when the humidifier is turned on and off make it a safe choice for light sleepers.
Best duo device: VicTsing Cool Mist Humidifier & Ultrasonic Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser
This combined humidifier and diffuser is as stylish as it is effective. Use it solely as a humidifier to increase moisture in the room, or add a few drops of essential oil into the water so it fills your home with a lovely scent to awake or calm your senses. Plus, the modern, subtle design makes it a perfect gift, and the seven soothing LED light colors can be used as a nightlight, for meditation, or to set the mood at a dinner party.
Best travel-friendly option: Fancii Cool Mist Personal Mini Humidifier
All you need is a single water bottle to power this palm-sized humidifier. It’s ideal to travel with, as it fits easily into a purse or carry-on, and can be used at the hotel, in a camping tent, and even on flights. It’s also cordless and uses three AA batteries (or can be charged through the USB) so you can literally take it anywhere.
Best for the car: Innerest Portable Mini Humidifier
Your carpool crew may mistake this funky portable humidifier for a water bottle since it fits perfectly in your car’s cup holder. It’s surprisingly quiet and has a USB charger, so you can juice it up quickly on the go. Ringing in at $10, it's a total steal and comes in three colors: baby blue, millennial pink, and white.
Best cool-mist: BONECO U330 Warm Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
This überquiet humidifier creates mist through high-frequency vibrations, not rotating disks and fans. It automatically maintains humidity levels (just turn the knob to set it) and has an antibacterial system in the base. “When I woke up, I didn’t feel dry and stuffy,” one tester raved.
Tips from the allergist
Overdid it? Use the AC. To bring down the humidity fast if your room starts to feel like a sauna, turn on the air-conditioning for a few minutes.
Clean it up. To keep your machine bacteria-free, be diligent about removing and cleaning the tank according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Be extra careful. If you have asthma or allergies, it’s crucial to avoid high humidity levels, which promote the growth of mold and dust mites.