Understanding the Link Between Hydration and Your Skin
“The key to healthy, glowing skin is to drink lots of water.”
This tip for keeping your skin looking so fresh has been bandied about by healthy living gurus, celebrities, and bloggers for years. But can you actually achieve a radiant complexion by consuming in your eight glasses a day?
The answer might be a bit more than skin deep.
How Does Water Help My Body?
To be perfectly clear, drinking water on a regular basis is critical to your bodily functions. In fact, roughly 60% of the adult human body is made up of water.
While it’s certainly refreshing on a hot summer day, H2O completes a range of crucial tasks throughout your body:
- Aids in digestion through the production of saliva
- Lubricates joints
- Flushes bodily waste
- Feeds the growth, reproduction, and survival of cells
- Maintains moisture in mucous membranes
- Regulates body temperature through sweat and respiration
- Aids in delivery of oxygen throughout the body
- Helps convert food into energy
- Supports brain function
It’s no wonder you can only survive a few days without water.
How is Water Absorbed in the Body?
Here’s the thing we fail to understand about all that water you drink every day: It doesn’t go straight to your skin. It has to follow your digestive tract like anything else you consume.
- It travels into your mouth, down your throat, and through the intestines.
- It’s then absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Like any other fluid in your body, it’s eventually filtered by the kidneys.
- Only then do your cells get hydrated by the water that remains.
Thus, while drinking plenty of water is critical to your overall health and body functions, including that of our skin, getting in your eight glasses a day isn’t likely to be the exclusive factor that reaps significant changes in your complexion.
How Does the Skin Work?
So, you’ve consumed your eight glasses of water for the day because you know that hydration and skin care are important. To really understand how to keep your skin hydrated, you first need to know how the skin works.
Break out your notepads – it’s time for a little science lesson!
Stretching across your entire body, your skin is your largest organ. The primary function of the skin is to protect your internal organs and help you to maintain homeostasis – aka to ensure that your body operates at normal conditions. In order to do this, the skin must protect itself from external forces. That’s where your lipid barrier comes in.
The lipid barrier helps your skin retain moisture levels and keep out bacteria. The natural hydration levels of your lipid barrier are primarily determined by your genetic makeup – whether your skin is dry, oily, or somewhere in between. Your skin is exposed to exterior forces and factors on a daily basis, all of which can cause your natural moisture levels to fluctuate. When your lipid barrier is dry, or lacking in essential fatty acids, it doesn’t function properly, leaving your skin vulnerable to moisture depletion.
In short, your skin does need water to keep hydrated, and hydrated skin does help your body take care of itself, but drinking water isn’t the end-all, be-all solution to your skin care needs.
Why Should I Keep My Skin Hydrated?
As we’ve discussed, slinging back glasses of water may not help you achieve the luminous skin of your dreams. Thankfully, you can support your skin and its lipid barrier function with ease:
- Avoid ingredients that tend to irritate your skin.
- Stay away from harsh cleansers.
- Cut back on exfoliation, as only 1-2 times per week should suffice.
- Avoid severe external conditions such as sun, low humidity, heavy winds, and hot baths or showers.
- Eat foods that are rich in fatty acids, like walnuts or salmon.
Moisturize the face and body daily.
There are really no easy answers when it comes to hydrating your skin. Yes, you should locate the right moisturizer for your skin type and use it correctly, but that’s also not a quick fix. Instead, you should realize that lifestyle, diet, environment, and your genetics all play a role in the look and feel of your skin. With the proper care – that does include drinking more water than other tastier liquids – you can achieve healthy, hydrated skin.