Like clockwork every year, the cold winter air comes rolling through—and so does chapped, dry skin. Or, perhaps you live in a place that lacks humidity year-round and you’re in a perpetual state of dryness. Either way, slathering on layers of hydrating serums and moisturizers can help, but there’s one tool that can actually get to the source of the problem. Enter humidifiers. These helpful tools actually help change the environment around you, targeting the problem head-on in the comfort of your home.
According to Dendy Engelman, M.D., a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist, humidifiers offer several different skincare benefits. “Most importantly, humidifiers help sustain optimal indoor humidity (around 40 to 60 percent), which supports a healthy skin barrier,” she explains. “When the environment is below an optimal humidity level, it actually pulls moisture out of the skin, causing it to dry out, or even break out.”
To help you find the best humidifier for your unique needs, we conducted hours of research, evaluating each one on the basis of size, weight, run time, and how easy it is to clean. Then, we consulted with a board-certified dermatologist to help us narrow down our list. Discover the best options, plus everything there is to know about humidifiers and how they can optimize the health of your skin, ahead.
Dishwasher safe parts
Sensors maintain optimal moisture day and night
Doubles as an essential oil diffuser
Requires daily refilling
Perhaps the most buzzy humidifier on the market, the Canopy leaves little to be desired. Not only does it make an adorably modern addition to any room, it’s loaded with features that make the experience as lovely as possible. The humidifier (which also doubles as an essential oil diffuser) offers full-room hydration up to 500 square feet for the smaller model and 1,000 square feet for the larger one. With light-monitoring sensors, it’s actually able to determine the optimal moisture level for both day and night and adjusts its output accordingly. You won’t notice any mist, but that’s because the humidifier was designed to evaporate into the air.
You can opt to buy the humidifier on its own, or in a subscription pack with aromatherapy oils, but either way, your skin (and your space) will thank you. Dr. Engelman swears by the Canopy, explaining that it's especially great because it doesn’t harbor bacteria and mold. “Not only is this healthier for the body, it also saves you the hassle of extra maintenance,” she says. “You can put it right next to your desk or nightstand to reap the full skincare benefits without worrying about inhaling contaminants, allergens, mold, and bacteria.”
Best of all, cleaning the Canopy is a breeze. All you have to do is disassemble the parts, place the tray, water tank, and cap in the dishwasher, and wipe down the main housing with a damp cloth. Nothing’s perfect, including this humidifier. Though it’s a great indicator that the humidifier is doing its job, we wish it didn’t go through water as quickly. The brand says it has a run time of up to 36 hours, but based on personal experience, it’s more like 24.
Price at time of publish: $150
Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 3 lbs. | Run Time: Up to 36 hours | Cleaning Instructions: Disassemble and put in the dishwasher
What Our Editors Say
"The cool air from this humidifier feels amazing on your skin; it's been extremely effective in relieving that tight feeling my skin gets during the winter. When I use my Canopy, I can keep up with my retinol routine, without experiencing any cracking, and that's a huge plus. I also feel very confident in the cleanliness of the design when it comes to preventing mold. It's so easy to pop in the dishwasher, it's just part of my routine." — Jill Di Donato, Senior Commerce Editor
AquaOasis Cool Mist Humidifier
Rotating nozzle for 360° mist flow
Can get messy
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a quality humidifier for your home. This option from AquaOasis costs only 30 bucks and fills up to 400 square feet with a cool, ultra-hydrating mist. Despite being relatively inexpensive, it’s surprisingly silent, ensuring a sound sleep without any humming, whistling, or crackling. The humidifier has a simple control dial and a 360° rotating nozzle for full control over mist output and flow direction. We also love that it has an automatic shut-off, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn it off. Just be aware that because the humidifier deposits cool mist into the air (aka tiny water droplets that help humidify the room), there may be some residual water surrounding the device. To avoid ruining surfaces, store the humidifier somewhere that won’t get destroyed if it’s wet.
Price at time of publish: $30
Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 2.22 lbs. | Run Time: Up to 24 hours | Cleaning Instructions: Use included cleaning brush and rinse
Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde PH04
Senses, captures, and traps air pollutants
Doubles as a fan
Sleek, high-tech features
Like most Dyson devices, this purifier-slash-humidifier-slash-air conditioner is top-notch. Though it's large (the only negative we could think of), it can be used for a wide range of things, from circulating humidified air and keeping you cool to drawing out pollutants (like dust, pollen, allergens, and more) from every corner of the room. There are several modes to choose from, including a night mode, which purifies using the quietest sound setting and a dimmed display. You can also set a sleep timer, which enables the humidifier to operate in predetermined intervals (between 15 minutes and 9 hours). You can control the humidifier and its many functions via remote, app or the sound of your voice—it’s that smart. When it’s time to clean the Dyson (about once a month), activate it’s self-clean cycle. This deep-cleaning mode eliminates build-up from within the machine’s system. With the push of a button, the Dyson will guide you through a step-by-step process that eradicates mold, odors, and more.
Price at time of publish: $840
Dimensions: 36.3 x 4.8 x 4.34 inches | Weight: 18 lbs. | Run Time: Up to 36 hours | Cleaning Instructions: Deep cleaning mode; included cleaning kit
Vitruvi Cloud Cool Mist Humidifier
Made from recycled plastic
The Cloud Cool Mist Humidifier from Vitruvi is a cheeky nod to water in the sky—without getting everything in its path soaking wet. The slender unit features cloud-like curves and looks like a chic little sculpture, no matter where you put it. Aside from the design, the intuitive settings really set it apart from anything else on the market. With four different duration options ranging from 8- to 24-hours, a night mode setting, removable and dishwasher-safe parts, and a 360-degree rotating mist spout, Vitruvi doesn’t miss a mark. The only thing we aren’t huge fans of is the sound. Though the brand says that the noise has a rating of 26.8 decibels (for context, a whisper is about 30), some people have found it to be a bit more obtrusive than that.
Price at time of publish: $230
Dimensions: 11.75 x 10.25 x 6.75 inches | Weight: 3.46 lbs. | Run Time: 8, 12, 16, and 24-hour settings | Cleaning Instructions: Dishwasher, Hand-washing
Hey Dewy Portable Facial Humidifier
Cordless, chargeable, and portable
Made specifically for skincare
Can’t thoroughly clean it
This humidifier from Hey Dewy is truly one-of-a-kind. Designed specifically for your skin, this portable mini unit amps up your skincare with a cool mist that hydrates skin (and hair), giving you an all-over dewy finish. Once it’s done charging, you can detach it from the wire and bring it with you pretty much anywhere. Senior Commerce Editor Jill Di Donato carries hers from room to room with her. It’s also great for tiny spaces, like a small bedroom or bathroom, and can be packed in a carry-on. It emits a continuous stream of cool mist that lasts for eight hours, making it a welcome addition to your bedtime routine. If we could change one thing, it would be for us to have the ability to thoroughly clean it. Because there are electrical components attached to the unit (aka the charging bank), it’s best not to submerge the humidifier under water. However, the brand recommends that you wipe the unit clean with a damp cloth.
Price at time of publish: $60
Dimensions: 3 x 3 x 7 inches | Weight: 0.5 lbs. | Run Time: Up to 8 hours | Cleaning Instructions: Damp cloth
What Our Editors Say
“I notice that when I use the humidifier, it helps the absorption rate of thicker creams; I'll wake up with softer skin and a complexion totally free of any excess moisturizer. During the day, I like to keep it on while I work—as a bonus, if I keep it near my plants, they instantly perk up."— Jill Di Donato, Senior Commerce Editor
Best for Sleeping
Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
Great for sleeping babies
Soothing blue hue
Doesn’t work in larger rooms
If you’re a light sleeper, the Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is the one for you. It’s really quiet—even babies can sleep through it—and it casts a soothing blue hue across the room for when the lights are off. Plus, the high to low speed settings combined with a 360° mist nozzle to balance and regulate the humidity in your home without being disruptive. Commerce Editor Mary Honkus uses the Pure Enrichment humidifier in her tiny NYC bedroom and can’t rave about it enough. The humidifier never keeps her up at night and she loves that she can store it on her window ledge without fear of it toppling over. Best of all, she says, she usually gets three to four days of running time on the lowest setting before having to refill the tank. Before you buy, be sure to check the dimensions of your room. This humidifier works best in rooms 245 square feet or less. Any larger than that, you might have to upgrade to the extra large version.
Price at time of publish: $40
Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 9 inches | Weight: 1.35 lbs. | Run Time: Up to 25 hours | Cleaning Instructions: Included cleaning brush, Rinse
Best Warm Mist
Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier
Relies on warm steam
Has a light that doesn’t turn off
A warm mist humidifier like the Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier is ideal during dry seasons or when you’re sick. For our intents and purposes, the warm air can actually help mitigate the drying of the skin, making it an ideal choice for someone who struggles with flaky patches or peeling. It’s actually filter-free, so you don’t have to worry about replacing a filter. Plus, the wide tank opening allows for easy filling (aka no accidental spills) and cleaning. You might notice an orange-y build up on the heating chamber after the first few uses. This is nothing to be concerned about—they’re just mineral deposits from your water. As the water boils (hence the warm mist), the minerals are left behind and solidify on the rim. Just give the humidifier a good wipe down weekly to keep it as clean and mold-free as possible. The only caveat: It has a light that doesn’t shut off. It lets you know the unit is running, however it can get annoying if you need to sleep in complete darkness.
Price at time of publish: $40
Dimensions: 12 x 7.88 x 14.25 inches | Weight: 4.41 lbs. | Run Time: Up to 24 hours | Cleaning Instructions: Wipe down, Rinse
Best Cool Mist
Honeywell Designer Series Cool Mist Humidifier
Essential oil tray
Highest speed can leave surfaces wet
With a sophisticated design, essential oil tray, and several speeds, this cool mist humidifier from Honeywell is worth checking out. It's sleek (rather than an eye sore) and has four settings for a customized experience—the higher the number, the more powerful the setting. This humidifier is filter-less, meaning it doesn’t require a filter change after a certain amount of time, and is therefore very easy to care for. Per the brand’s recommendation, use a 1:1 solution of water and vinegar or bleach to disinfect the body of the humidifier weekly.
Ultimately, both warm and cool mist humidifiers are effective at adding moisture to the air in your home, which means both are helpful when it comes to relieving dry skin. However, cool mist doesn’t totally evaporate into the air, so beware that you might wake up with a wet countertop if you use it on the highest setting.
Price at time of publish: $64
Dimensions: 13.2 x 8.8 x 8.8 inches | Weight: 5 lbs. | Run Time: Up to 24 hours | Cleaning Instructions: Vinegar wash or bleach solution
Our best overall is the Canopy Humidifier. Not only does it hydrate any room for up to 36 hours, it doubles as an essential oil diffuser. It’s also really easy to clean and care for. If you don’t want to spend a ton, the AquaOasis Cool Mist Humidifier is a solid choice because it’s quiet (great for sleeping babies) and has an automatic shutoff.
Meet the Expert
Dendy Engelman, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon based in New York City. She specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology and takes a less-is-more approach when treating patients.
What to Look for in a Humidifier
The tank size and square footage of a humidifier matter quite a bit—they pretty much determine how long the humidifier will operate for and whether or not it’ll work for your space. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the tank, the shorter the run time.
As for room coverage, portable humidifiers (like the Hey Dewy Humidifier) are great for smaller spaces or for movement from room to room. If you’re looking to humidify a medium-sized room, the Pure Enrichment Humidifier is a great choice as it covers around 250 square feet. For rooms larger than 300 square feet, look for a humidifier that has the ability to cover a larger square footage, like the Vitruvi Cloud Humidifier, which covers around 600 square feet.
Some humidifiers have other features that can really add to the experience. Automatic shutoff, for example (like the AquaOasis Cool Mist Humidifier) turns the unit off after a certain amount of time has passed to save both energy and water. Some units also offer essential oil diffusion (or in the case of the Vicks Filter Free Humidifier, medicated vapors to use when sick).
Humidifiers require regular cleaning in order to prevent mold and bacteria growth. Specific directions vary depending on the model, so be sure to consider how easy (or hard) a certain model is to clean. Some humidifiers even have dishwasher-safe parts (like the Canopy Humidifier, for example), but others will need a thorough wipe-down. As per the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendation: All surfaces that come into contact with water should be cleaned with a three percent solution of hydrogen peroxide and then rinsed thoroughly.
As for filters, most models will require a change, but it can be tricky to figure out when it’s time to make the switch. Some humidifiers come with a filter replacement indicator, but not all do. As a general rule of thumb, replace your humidifier filter after six weeks if you use it daily, or after three months if you use it a few times a week.
Are humidifiers good for your skin?
Yes. According to Engelman, absolutely. “Dry skin is in need of extra moisture, both topically and in the environment. By creating an environment with optimal humidity, humidifiers help the skin barrier retain more moisture,” she explains. “A humidifier also ensures topical skincare (like moisturizer, hydrating mask, etc.) doesn’t have to work as hard, essentially increasing their effectiveness.”
What are the benefits of sleeping with a humidifier?
Humidifiers are a great tool to supplement hydration, especially when we sleep. “It’s during this time that our bodies lose more moisture and fluctuate in temperature,” Engelman explains. During sleep, the body goes into repair more and focuses on processes like skin metabolism and cell turnover. This leaves the skin barrier more vulnerable, especially when the environment has a lack of moisture. By adding a humidifier to your space, you can help prevent transepidermal water loss and boost your body’s hydration.
Do humidifiers accumulate mold?
Yes, they do. Accumulation of mold or bacteria in your humidifier can happen since the devices spew water for hours on end. Engelman recommends always changing your filters in the suggested time frame and to clean the humidifier regularly to prevent skin reactions like rashes and irritation, as well as respiratory complications like allergies, sneezing, and congestion.
Is a cool or warm mist humidifier better for dry skin?
In short, both work just fine when it comes to skincare. The main difference between the two is that cool mist humidifiers don’t require heat, whereas warm humidifiers do. Cool mist humidifiers (like the Honeywell Designer Series Cool Mist Humidifier) use a fan to evaporate the water into the air and are easy to clean, energy efficient, and ideal for year-round use. Warm mist humidifiers (like the Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier), on the other hand, use heat to boil water to create a vapor that can be dispersed throughout the room. “Warm mist humidifiers present more risk of harm to young children and pets but are more resistant to mold and bacteria growth,” Engelman shares. “I recommend looking for devices that are designed not to harbor bacteria, like the Canopy Humidifier.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Caitlyn Martyn is a staff commerce writer at Byrdie, where she covers all things beauty. An avid product tester, Caitlyn likes to try the latest and greatest in makeup, skincare, and wellness to let readers know what’s worth it and what’s not. She has tried several humidifiers on this list, including the Canopy and the AquaOasis.