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Blue seats on the Central line, London, UK.
Credit: Roberto La Rosa / Shutterstock

One tube line is worse than all the others for your skin

As proven by a study analysing heat, humidity, bacteria and more

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Whether it’s making you sweat your face off with bad (or without any) air-con, giving you windburn from blustering windows or leaving you with a rash from sandpaper-y seats, the tube has many methods for leaving your skin dry, scratched, blotched and raw.

But which of the 11 tube lines is the worst for your skin? Spa booking agency SpaSeekers collated data on eight metrics, from temperature and humidity to noise, pollution and bacteria. The metrics were then combined, with the best (cleanest, coolest, least crowded and polluted) lines scoring highest out of an available score of 88. 

The study revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the Northern line was most harmful for your skin. The Northern scored a hot, humid, choking, overcrowded and bacteria-smothered 32, exposing passengers to pollution levels six times higher than the World Health Organisation (WHO) limit.

The others weren’t without fault, either. The Victoria line had the highest number of germs and the Central line had the highest levels of pollution, while the Jubilee and Piccadilly lines were among the hottest and most humid.

How do all these factors damage your skin? Heat and humidity lead to sweating, which causes dryness, irritation and rashes. Pollution can cause acne, inflammation and signs of ageing, while bacteria is associated with blemishes.

Scoring a remarkable 62, the least harmful for your skin was the Hammersmith & City line, largely because of its air-conditioning, low weekly passenger numbers (231,193) and low bacteria count. Similarly impressive in terms of proper tube lines (sorry, Waterloo & City, you’re too puny to count) were the Metropolitan, because of its cleanliness, and the Bakerloo, due to its short length of only 14.5 miles.

Here are the full results, from the SpaSeekers website

The worst tube line for your skin
Photo: SpaSeekers

So the next time you’re wondering which tube to take when you want to get somewhere not looking haggard and battered, consider avoiding the Northern at all costs – which I’m sure many of us do anyway. 

Extending misery: the Battersea Northern line extension is coming in autumn 2021.

The tube will get full 4G coverage by 2024 – but is that good or bad?

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