Does drinking water help dry skin?

Sarah Hyland
Studying Health Sciences, Writer & Product Trainer
Linked In

07 April 2021

Does drinking water help dry skin?

Adding water to any dehydrated substance should help replace lost moisture. So, will it work for dry skin?


Does drinking water help dry skin?

While treating dry skin topically is far more researched and recommended, some promising studies have concluded that water positively impacts skin hydration, especially for those that may not be drinking enough(1). So, drinking water and staying well hydrated, together with topical treatments, could be an effective way to help dry skin.

Another systematic literary review also supports this, stating that drinking water can increase skin hydration(2).
Furthermore, our skin is 30% water, so it makes common sense that water may play a key role in skin hydration. This is a surprisingly contentious issue. Many articles and experts argue that dry skin is better treated topically. The health science student (and curmudgeon) in me was sceptical: gold standard research using randomised, double-blind, controlled clinical trials are expensive and water is,! Ergo, there is little scientific research measuring the effects of water drinking and its effects on the skin. Could the billion-dollar beauty skincare industry be just a little bit biased?

After reading a few interesting and promising scientific papers that are on good old 'free' water's side, I dug a little deeper to understand how water can help dry skin.

Why water is so important for dry skin.

New babies are succulent plump bundles that are 75% water; their skin is dewy, smooth and supple. Compare that to your average older adult, virtually a dry husk in comparison, wrinkled and puckered, only 55% water as they reach their golden years(3). So again, it makes common sense that water may play a key role in skin hydration as we mature.

Our skin is 30% water. A drink of water will replenish a wilted plant very quickly but human beings are more complex organisms. The very outermost layer is called the epidermis, and this serves as a protective waterproof barrier, keeping all of our juicy goo on the inside. All the water we drink is absorbed through the digestive system, into the blood. Then it's carried around the body to each of our cells, but not to the epidermis, because it is our waterproof layer and does not have a blood supply. Can you imagine the messy leaking if it did - carnage?! This is why 'skin experts' may poo-poo drinking glasses of water as a way of hydrating our skin. They say that the epidermis needs to get its moisture mainly from the atmosphere, and your natural moisturising factor in the skin holds the water in.

However, If your dermis is well nourished, by adequate hydration and nutrition, skin cells produced in very outer waterproof layer of the epidermis will have a better natural moisturising factor. The studies I have found (see the references below) state that it absolutely will help all aspects of skin hydration and dry skin, when a water-deficient person starts to drink enough! What water won't do is correct skin imperfections caused by things like ageing or the sun. Likewise, consuming more water if you are well-hydrated will not benefit your dry skin: it's not magic. The body will always find a way of balancing itself, and excess water will be flushed out as pee.

How much water should we drink?

According to the European Health Food Safety Authority (EFSA), men should aim for up to 2.5 litres a day and women 2 litres a day(4). Anyone over 14 should consider themselves adults as regards their water consumption. In Brexiteer speak, that's 6-8 glasses of water a day, according to the UK's Eatwell guide(5). The glass size should be at least 8oz (that's about 230mls). You can glamour up your H2O by adding any of the following - slices of cucumber, fresh mint leaves, lemon slices or fresh root ginger.

If you suffer from dry skin, do try counting your glasses of water. Correcting your water intake may significantly improve the texture of your skin in up to 30 days.

What else can help dry skin?

Treating dry skin with water alone might not be enough. However, teaming it with topical treatments, especially natural ones, could make a big difference. Check out my blog 'How can I hydrate my skin naturally?' for some natural topical solutions to try alongside drinking more water.

Also, understanding the cause of your dry skin can help you discover if certain triggers or factors can be affecting the condition of your skin.

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