It has become the stuff of legend that drinking 8 glasses of water a day will hydrate our skin, solve acne problems, lighten dark circles, cure fine lines, and oily skin, just to name a few. From supermodels to the celebs, and in the pages of our favorite magazines, they’re all preaching the same thing. But what is the science behind it? Does it even really work?
Unsurprisingly, the research on this is limited. Who is going to fund research into a free product (water) when they could be selling the next hydrating beauty cream? A review by the dermatologist Ronni Wolf found only one study looking at the effect of long-term water intake on the skin. But the results were contradictory. After one month, the group who drank extra mineral water showed a decrease in skin density, which could suggest the skin is retaining more moisture, while those who drank tap water showed an increase in skin density. But regardless of the type of water they drank, it made no difference to their wrinkles or to the smoothness of their skin.
“There is no evidence that proves drinking tons of water is the secret cure for all of your skin issues,” says dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor at Yale University. So if water isn’t the cure to all our skincare problems, what is? Here are a few tips from Dr. Almudena Nuño González, a member of the Piel Sana Foundation of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology (AEDV) on how to keep your skin’s youthful glow.
Topical Hydration is the Key
Using cosmetics that contain retinol or glycolic acid renews the skin, which makes it appear more hydrated. Hyaluronic acid is also a good ingredient for skin hydration, however, this cannot soak through to the deeper layers of our skin, only keeping you moisturized on the surface. Vitamin C and ferulic are powerful antioxidants, so keeping these in your cosmetic formulas will give a luminous glow to your skin.
If you’re crazy about hydration, you can even get injections of hyaluronic acid. This molecular powerhouse has an amazing capacity to hold water, providing immediate hydration. Skin peels also renew the outer layers of the skin, forcing the skin to regenerate and improving hydration.
Your Skin Hates Hot Water
It’s best to avoid showers with very hot water, as this removes the lipid layer and irritates the skin - causing dehydration. Hot showers and baths can inflame the skin, causing redness, itching, and even peeling — similar to a sunburn — and can disrupt the skin’s natural balance of moisture, robbing you of the natural oils, fats, and proteins that keep skin healthy. Dry skin can increase your chances of infection and actually lead to an overproduction of oils in an effort to compensate for the lack of moisture.
Cold water produces vasoconstriction, improving the microcirculation of the skin, although the effect is moderate. You can also try to stay away from products that alter the skin barrier, such as shower oils, syndets, or micellar water. Using a moisturizer straight after a warm shower will allow deeper hydration, as your pores are more open.
Hard Water is Your Skin’s Worst Enemy
On the topic of showering, the hardness of the water also affects the skin. If you live in an area where the water has a very high pH, this can alter the skin barrier. This hard water is especially noticeable in those of us with sensitive skin.
Dermatologist, Dr. Dennis Gross, says that many of the impurities in hard water, like iron and magnesium, can form free radicals that damage healthy skin cells. That can lead to fine lines and wrinkles.
Hydration Inside and Out
Water may not be the miracle skincare solution some claim, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to drink the recommended amount. Your skin may not show too many visible signs from doing this, but your body will be kept healthy, which will benefit you and your skin in the long run.
The secret to having radiant, healthy skin, and delaying the signs of aging as much as possible, is not only in genetics and the use of cosmetics. Caring for the skin from within, including a range of foods in your daily diet that contains essential nutrients that benefit the skin and protect it from external factors, such as cold or exposure to sunlight, is essential.
Sun protection is a must (even if it’s cloudy!) as the UV light will aggravate the skin and weaken your protective barrier. Pollution and stress also damage your skin, so using antioxidant agents will help to counteract this, as well as using products that renew and hydrate the skin.
With those things in mind, we advise you to always stay well hydrated by drinking enough water for the body to easily eliminate toxins, get your recommended 8 hours of sleep, perform moderate physical activity regularly, and continue a balanced diet that includes protein, good quality carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants, since they are full of substances and vitamins that nourish and care for the skin from the inside.
It's been said that water is the essence of life and we couldn't agree more. Getting the most out of it can be a challenge sometimes, but hopefully, you now have a few new ideas of how water can help your skin.
Do you know someone else curious about water's effects on the skin?