How To Beat The Heat

Link Copied


How To Beat The Heat

Words by Mr Jamie Millar

18 May 2016

Whether commuting, exercising or dressing, this summer, keep your cool and apply the cold compress of science.

“If you can’t stand the heat,” the saying goes, “then stay out of the kitchen.” Sound advice, certainly, but it only goes so far. And sometimes climbing into the refrigerator, in the manner of Indiana Jones, can feel like the only solution in a nuclear summer.

Maybe you’re exercising and trying to work out how to bring your temperature down afterwards. Perhaps you’re trying to get to work without giving the perspiration-sodden impression that you’ve just taken your second shower of the day. Or maybe you’re giving serious consideration to a tank top. (Delirium is often a symptom of heatstroke.)

Whatever your hot-button issue, MR PORTER can offer you some welcome cold comfort. Apply this science and you’ll avoid the ignominy of having to clamber into any appliances. Here’s how to stay frosty this summer.

As a worldly fellow, you may have heard that warm drinks can, counterintuitively, cool you down. Strictly speaking, this is true, but they achieve this by making you sweat more, which isn’t the desired result. Before you ask your trusty barista for a cold brew, however, you should also know that caffeine raises your metabolism and therefore your body temperature, as does digesting calorific food, which is another reason to reconsider that double scoop of pistachio. Craving a chilled brewski? Alcohol dehydrates you, impairing your ability to produce cooling sweat, among other things. So what should we drink? A water chaser is always advisable.

It’s around now that you start sweating over the unreadiness of your beach body. The up-down nature of weights and intervals makes it harder for your body temperature to remain constant, so put steady-state cardio (an even run or bike ride) on the menu for lunchtime sessions, or train in the cooler morning or evening. (Plus with the latter, you don’t have to red-face your boss afterwards.) Permit us to pour cold water, meanwhile, on the notion of an icy post-workout shower. Your body will merely turn up the heat in response. Cool down with lukewarm water and a shower gel that contains menthol, which has the opposite effect to chilli.

In the film Withnail & I, Mr Richard E Grant’s impecunious character memorably smears himself in heat rub to ward off the cold. Conversely, it can be tempting to slather yourself from head to toe in antiperspirant come summer. But such products block up your sweat glands – your body’s primary means of letting off steam – and do so using aluminium, which discolours your clothes. Instead, apply a natural deodorant such as Malin + Goetz’s, which masks odour, but doesn’t clog. Sweating buckets? Splash cold water over not only your face but your wrists. These areas are thermoreceptor hotspots, so the effect is much greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s not sweat itself that cools you off, but rather the evaporation of said perspiration from your skin, and the optimum condition for that process is being naked. Thankfully, for standards of decency and discerning men’s clothing retailers, this doesn’t work quite so well when you’re in direct sunlight, as the rays barbecue your exposed skin and turn your internal meat thermometer up to “well done”. In fact, you should cover up in cotton and linen, provided the garment is loose enough to allow air flow around your body, which aids evaporation and keeps you breezy. Hence why most cultures in hot climes wear flowing robes and not birthday suits.

You may also have heard that fanning yourself is a futile gesture, as the very action heats you up. Wave such concerns away. You generate about 100 watts of energy just sitting there marinating in your sweat. Fanning adds just 1 watt – unless you’re particularly vigorous – but can as much as double your heat loss. (More efficient still is a porch swing or a hammock, where a brief effort can move you for several minutes.) On a hot day, the air around you is raised to your body temperature and 100 per cent humidity. Unless you replace it, you’ll continue to stew. May we suggest using a copy of The MR PORTER Post, which will help you look cool as well as feel it.

Illustrations by Mr Nick Hardcastle