Even though we all know water is good for us, it’s no shock to know that many people are chronically dehydrated. Between caffeine, alcohol, air conditioning and other lifestyle factors, most of us aren’t hitting our optimal hydration levels.
But did you know that water is not only essential generally, but a non-negotiable when it comes to firm, radiant and healthy skin? Here, we look at why drinking plenty of water daily is a core step to skin care.
Water In The Body
Water is one of the most essential nutrients for the human body. It is known as the ‘universal solvent’, and is involved in almost every single chemical reaction that takes place in our bodies every single day.
This means it is required for many essential processes, such as delivering nutrients to the cells, maintaining the balance of electricity in the body, removing toxins and waste and aiding in digestion.
We already know that digestion and detoxification are essential for skin health, so it’s only logical that water can boost the health of your skin indirectly by supporting these body functions. However, water also has a direct impact on the health of our skin as well.
Water In The Skin
To understand water in the skin, it’s important to understand why we have skin. Skin isn’t there just to look good – it’s there to help us survive by acting as a barrier against the outside world.
It protects us from outside pathogens such as bacteria, as well as from the damage of UV rays. It also helps us to maintain an ideal body temperature through functions such as the excretion of sweat during hot weather, sickness or exercise.
Skin cells contains around 30% water when hydrated, keeping the skin more flexible and resilient and allowing it to protect us more efficiently. Research has demonstrated that adequate hydration can actually thicken the skin, improving its ability to act as a barrier.
Just to make things complicated, sufficient water in the skin is actually needed to keep balanced levels of water in the body. The skin works to stop water from being leeched out of the body.
What Dehydration Looks Like
When we are dehydrated, our bodies slow down processes so that there is enough water for the ones important for survival. Brain function and concentration drops markedly, and we become lethargic and irritable.
When it comes to skin, water is pulled from the skin cells to support more vital functions of the body. In response, skin becomes tight, flaky and irritated, and loses elasticity, making us more prone to wrinkling and tearing.
Dehydration also throws out the balance of water and oil on the skin’s surface, causing excess sebum. This can mean a flare-up in acne and other skin conditions impacted by sebum levels.
What Hydration Looks Like
When we are hydrated properly, the body can function at optimal level. Skin is more flexible and elastic thanks to the higher water content of cells. Sebum will be balanced out by the water content, relieving outbreaks.
Research shows that high water levels also increase blood flow to the skin cells, keeping them healthier and more nourished. From a person’s perspective, hydration can leave skin feeling softer, smoother and better moisturized.
How Much To Drink?
So if hydration is so important, how much is enough? Unfortunately, that’s not an easy question to answer. The truth is, it’s different for everyone, depending on their individual biochemistry, lifestyle and health concerns.
The general equation many people recommend is that you should drink half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces as a guideline. This doesn’t factor in exercise or hotter climates, but it’s a good starting point, particularly if you haven’t been drinking much water before now.
From the Institute of Medicine, the guidelines on total fluid intake range from 75 to 100oz, however it’s important to note that this is fluid from all beverages.
The color of your urine can also be a good guideline – ideally you want it to be pale yellow or colorless, unless you’ve recently taken something like a B vitamin supplement that can change urine color.
A Note On Other Beverages
You might think that a guideline of ‘total fluid’ might include your hourly coffee fix or the cocktails on a Friday night. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way!
Beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol act as a diuretic. That means that they cause your body to excrete water from cells and out of the body, leaving you more dehydrated.
So if you do enjoy your morning coffee or a drink out with dinner, remember to add in an extra cup of water afterward to prevent you from dehydrating.