Greetings from Riyadh where it’s another day of sun. It’s been a while since my last post in March, just days after everything changed for us all.
We are currently in week 11 of lockdown in Saudi Arabia, although the strict conditions are due to begin easing from next week. I am planning to write a post about our experience so I won’t go into detail now, other than to say I am glad things are beginning to open up a little!
I thought for this post I would avoid the whole topic of coronavirus and instead list the top 10 things I have found essential for living in the desert – something I have been compiling in my head for a while. This is just my list, other people might list other things and it is definitely not sponsored lol!
The weather in Riyadh is hot and very, very dry. Currently it is 42 degrees with a low of 27 overnight – and it’s only due to get hotter as we head into June and July. Other well known places in the region eg Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Jeddah and Muscat are hot and humid (unbearably so, up to 100% humidity at times), but in Riyadh, as we are in the middle of the Arabian peninsular, the air is arid dry which although it is easier to live in, plays havoc with your skin and hair. The constant search for moisture is real, which brings me to Number 1 on my Top Ten list:
Moisturizer is an absolute necessity. Skin becomes snake-like in texture without vast quantities of moisturizer. The air is so dry it sucks all the moisture out but there are lots of good body moisturizers out there – this one is good because it is non-greasy and glides on easily. I would also include eye drops here because even eyes dry out in heat. And the desert dust also irritates the eyes, some are more susceptible than others, it makes mine stream, so I always have some soothing eye drops to hand.
2. Lip balm
Lip balm is really a subsection of moisturizer – lips dry out really easily and then they get chapped and crack so a ready supply of lip balm is essential. I have tried all kinds of and these two are my favorite – I keep a tube close to hand at all times!!
3. Hair care
Hair dries out the same as skin, especially if it has been colored – taming a dry frizz is a daily battle! The water is also desalinated and seems to strip the hair of its natural oils. It’s worth investing in products which protect against sun and chlorine damage with a built in UV defense. I also get a deep moisturizing treatment from my hairdresser when I am back in Belfast (big shout out to Linden at Keith Kane Hair and Beauty!!)
4. Playing footsie!
Dry feet – everyone suffers from it. Never a problem I had before! Feet and especially the heels are prone to becoming very dry so moisturizing and filing is a must. (Elbows also get very dry).
5. Waterproof mascara
Waterproof mascara is the only way to go and for me, this Lancome ‘Monsieur Big’ is the best. If you don’t use a waterproof mascara it tends melt in the heat and smudge under eye – this one stays put, and you can wear it in the pool without it streaming down your face and scaring the children!
6. Facial spritz
Ooo the delight of spraying a cool fine mist on your face – I never realized the benefits of a facial spritz before living in the heat of the desert. Good ones have a really fine mist which don’t leave your face dripping wet. They are so refreshing and light, also good to use on planes to perk up tired, jet lagged skin and can be used to set makeup – so a really good versatile investment! (Another good brand I would highly recommend is Omorovicza).
7. Re-usable water bottles
Hydration, hydration, hydration! The climate might sap all the moisture out of the body, but the one sure way to keep it replenished is to stay hydrated with a constant supply of H2O – and of course in these environmentally aware times we all have our re-usable water bottles. Never leave home without one!
This was something new to me – there being no real need for humidifiers in Ireland! But they are really great to have in the bedroom to keep some moisture in the air and I think they help you sleep better too.
9. Water dispenser
Another piece of household equipment which is not so common in Ireland (unless there is one built-in to your fridge) – the stand alone water dispenser. It works out much more economical and environmentally friendly to have one of these than buying packets of plastic bottles of water. All the water in KSA is desalinated so you can’t drink what comes out of the tap – and we don’t use it for the kettle or cooking food with either. One of these 5 gallon bottles (if you get it refilled) costs less than €2.
We also have a bottom loader model which means we don’t have to wrestle a 5 gallon bottle on top of the dispenser, and ours also has the option of chilled or hot water as well as just regular temperature – very handy!!
Finally, the one thing no one can live without – and the cause of friction between nearly every couple we know (!) – A.C. or air conditioning. A.C. is non-negotiable. I don’t know how people lived in the desert in temperatures of up to 50 degrees + without it!!
The constant battle is finding the sweet spot which keeps the temperature at a happy medium – and of course that is different for everyone, which leads to friction – he wants it colder, you want it warmer, and vice versa! Personally I think a medium temperature of around 24 degrees is just about perfect… ;0)
And that brings this list of top 10 essentials for living in the desert to an end. I hope if you are thinking about moving to live in hotter climes it has given you some tips on what will help make life more comfortable and bearable. Please let me know if there is anything you think I should have included!!
Apart from that, stay cool, stay well and stay hydrated – until next time!
5 thoughts on “Top 10 essentials for desert living”
Very glad to see you are well and coping/dealing/adhering to Covid 19 and it’s restrictions. No one has escaped the ramifications and I hope we all do. Stay well, stay safe.
Your post is very timely! Hair is a mess and contains more colours than I care to see; face is weather beaten as we’ve had excellent weather (not complaining. Rain would be worse for us anyway) so there is nothing to do but sit out; makeup is a past activity I vaguely remember. So, desert beauty wrapped up in one informative post brings me back sharply to be future ready (let’s hope that is the near future)! It certainly diverts from Lockdown and your curfew. I’m desperately in need of good recommendations and you’ve nailed it!
Skin, hair and feet! Just…moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
Just one wee recommendation for hands and nails is La Chinata hand and nail cream! Soo good! I look like the ancient mariner but my hands and nails are great!
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Thank you so much Jeanie for the comment! Glad you enjoyed it and it was helpful (even if you’re not in exactly the same conditions!!) I will look out for the hand cream – I hate any that are too greasy!! 🤗
Hi Anne, Greetings from Coleraine. Enjoyed reading your list of essentials. Can vouch for Jeanie’s hand cream recommendation. It’s fantastic and, with all the recommended hand washing, pretty necessary here too. I would add OPI nail & cuticle oil. It’s excellent. Keep well,
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Hi Marea – good to hear from you! The OPI nail and cuticle oil sounds fab I will look out for it – my nails (like everything else!) are soo dry!! We are safe and well – they started easing lockdown but the number of cases has nearly doubled so we’re expecting a new set of lockdown regulations to be introduced… We watch developments in NI and UK with interest… Stay safe! Anne xx