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Ask the RD: Does Hydration Really Improve Skin Appearance?

Ask the RD: Does Hydration Really Improve Skin Appearance?

Q:Does drinking extra water really improve the skin?


A:Many people may carry around their enormous jugs of water promoting hydration and claiming it’s essential for skin hydration, but is the amount of water you drink really tied to the health of your skin? What we know is that adequate hydration is absolutely important for overall health; however, it is not so certain whether it is beneficial for hydrating the skin.1 

To break it down, the skin is the largest organ of the human body and is made up of three layers. These layers are the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.The epidermis contains water, and when there is not enough, it can lead to reduced skin elasticity and dry skin. Even so, there is not enough evidence to suggest that drinking more water will add to the water in the epidermis.2


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When you drink water, the small intestine absorbs most of it. Once absorbed, it then adds to your blood volume to be used by your cells and other organs, which means that it does not necessarily go directly to the skin. 

We do know that severe dehydration can cause a reduction in skin turgor. Skin turgor is the skin’s elasticity, which is the skin’s ability to change shape and then return to normal. A reduction in skin turgor can cause wrinkles to look more noticeable. The difference here is that this is based on severe dehydration; therefore, it is still unknown if excess hydration will have any additional impact on the skin appearance.

Overall, there is not enough evidence as to whether hydration impacts reducing the dryness of your skin.3


So, if it’s uncertain whether or not extra water can help hydrate the skin, what can help hydrate the skin? For starters, what you put on your skin and your environment can have an impact.


Dermatologists recommend avoiding hot water when showering and limiting the duration, using fragrance-free cleansers, and moisturizing immediately after drying the skin. If you want to improve your skin hydration, work with your dermatologist to form the best plan for you. 


Aside from hydration, it’s important to note that the nutrients and foods you consume can largely affect your skin’s health too. 


While drinking extra water may not reverse the signs of agingor create supple skin, there are many other benefits! Water is essential for your health, and regardless if it impacts skin appearance, it should not be skimped! Staying well hydrated can help regulate body temperature, protect body organs and tissues, and assist the kidneys and liver in flushing waste products.

References:
  1. Akdeniz, M., Tomova-Simitchieva, T., Dobos, G., Blume-Peytavi, U., & Kottner, J. (2018). Does dietary fluid intake affect skin hydration in healthy humans? A systematic literature review.Skin research and technology : official journal of International Society for Bioengineering and the Skin (ISBS) [and] International Society for Digital Imaging of Skin (ISDIS) [and] International Society for Skin Imaging (ISSI),24(3), 459–465.https://doi.org/10.1111/srt.12454 
  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21901-epidermis
  3. Palma, M. L., Tavares, L., Fluhr, J. W., Bujan, M. J., & Rodrigues, L. M. (2015). Positive impact of dietary water on in vivo epidermal water physiology.Skin research and technology : official journal of International Society for Bioengineering and the Skin (ISBS) [and] International Society for Digital Imaging of Skin (ISDIS) [and] International Society for Skin Imaging (ISSI),21(4), 413–418. https://doi.org/10.1111/srt.12208

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