When it comes to their gorgeous skin, models and actresses often credit their flawless complexions to drinking copius amounts of water. After all, as their male model colleague Derek Zoolander once said, "Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” Since our skin is primarily made up of water, the theory behind drinking it to improve our skin’s appearance does seem logical, but how much does water really do for our complexions?
"Since skin is the largest organ and our main barrier against the outside environment, we need water to keep that barrier intact by maintaining these skin cells,” explains dermatologist Jessica Weiser of New York Dermatology Group. "Water is also an important component of a few structures in the skin required for collagen production, one of the key building blocks of the skin that is lost during the aging process.”
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Although it’s widely believed that our daily water intake should be between 8-10 glasses, Dr. Weiser notes that this isn’t necessarily the best amount for everyone. "There is no specific formula to calculate how much water should be consumed daily, but the Institute of Medicine currently recommends 15 glasses (8oz each) each day for the average male and 11 cups daily for the average female,” she says. "This will vary depending on activity level, sweat production, and more.”
If chugging down the recommended amount of water every day seems like a chore, another way to make sure your skin (and body) gets the hydration you need is by adding water-rich foods to your diet. "Ingestion of water is a crucial component of any well-rounded and high quality skin care regimen,” explains Dr. Weiser. "Nutrient-rich, water-dense brightly colored fruit and vegetables provide both nutrition and hydration simultaneously to help your body hold onto and utilize water more efficiently, which helps enrich cells, maintain proper circulation, ensure healthy internal organs and digestion, and support a bright, radiant complexion.”
Unsurprisingly, depriving your body of adequate water will negatively impact your skin by causing dehydration which weakens the skin’s protective barrier function. Dr. Weiser says that this can lead to dryness, flaking, eczema, and diminish skin’s healing and regeneration which lead to premature signs of aging.
One final factor to consider is that even though water benefits the skin when ingested, topically, too much water can harm your skin. "Water is hydrating when ingested but superficial skin exposure to water, especially hot water, can actually dry out and even irritate the skin surface if emollients are not applied,” explains Dr. Weiser. "Frequent showering, face cleansing, and hand washing can impede skin barrier function, which requires proteins (such as ceramides) and fats or oils for proper maintenance.”