Winter can wreak havoc on our delicate skin. We do what we can by scrubbing and buffing off dead skin cells, slathering on lotion and bundling up when we’re out in the cold, but could we be doing more?
It’s no secret that drinking water has copious health benefits. Some of those benefits include maximizing physical performance, preventing headaches, maintaining energy and brain function and treating kidney stones. But could drinking water replenish our skin’s moisture, too? Does our body’s largest organ actually get thirsty for water?
The Science Behind Your Skin
To understand the relationship between skin and water it helps to first understand your skin’s makeup. Your skin consists of three layers — the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue. The epidermis is the outermost layer, followed by the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue. In order for the epidermis to feel soft and have ample elasticity, it must contain enough water. However, there is little research that suggests that simply drinking extra water can replenish the epidermis’ water content, Mayo Clinic reports.
How Drinking Water Impact’s Your Skin’s Moisture
If you’re wondering how much water to drink, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggest women drink nine cups of water each day and that men drink 13. Beyond that, there’s no need to drink more unless you’ve lost excessive amounts through the skin via sweat or heat — a process also known as trans-epidermal water loss.
So no, drinking water isn’t the end all be all of hydrated skin. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner spoke to Real Simple to explain why.
“It is a complete myth that we should drink a lot of water to maintain hydrated skin,” Zeichner said. “Water, first and foremost, enters the bloodstream and is then filtered by the kidneys. There is no data that drinking more or less water leads to the skin’s quality.”
What it does do is hydrate cells once it’s absorbed into the bloodstream — and before it gets filtered by the kidneys. Essentially, water hydrates your body and aids in all of its functions, which leads to a healthier you overall.
How To Maintain Hydrated Skin
Thankfully, there are plenty of other ways to keep your skin hydrated other than drinking water. For starters, use a gentle cleanser that’s free of drying ingredients like alcohol, retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids to help maintain your skin’s hydration. It’s also best to avoid hot showers and to moisturize your body while your skin is still wet. Right after you get out of the shower, experts suggest gently drying off with a towel and applying a thick layer of your choice of moisturizer to increase moisture uptake.
The weather can have a negative effect on your skin, too. When going out in cold weather, be sure to protect yourself by wearing gloves and appropriate gear to prevent moisture loss. Using a humidifier either at home or in the office can also help rehydrate skin in tough weather.
As always, eating a balanced diet with a variety of healthy fats, carbs, proteins, vitamins and minerals can help keep your body running at peak performance.
Exfoliating by using a dry brush or other technique can also have a positive effect on your skin. When you exfoliate, you remove dead skin cells from your skin’s surface and prepare it to properly absorb your moisturizer. Be sure to re-hydrate after exfoliation by layering humectants, emollients and occlusives to trap water inside your skin and build its natural protective barrier.
The next time you start to notice your skin looking a little dry keep these tips in mind and kiss those flakes goodbye.