No, Drinking Water Can't Actually Hydrate Your Skin (But This Can)

can drinking water hydrate skincan drinking water hydrate skin

It's time to call BS on one of skincare's biggest myths: that drinking water will help improve skin hydration, eliminate dry skin and give you the best skin of your life.

It's a lie, and I blame every supermodel and celebrity who's ever told a magazine their secret to great skin is drinking five litres of water a day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love water. I down two to three litres of the stuff every day and tell my clients to do the same because drinking water has a multitude of health benefits. But... anytime I hear someone mention drinking more water as a cure for dry or dehydrated skin, I scream internally.

In my work as a dermal clinician, it comes up a lot. Why? Because the rich and famous don’t like to disclose their real skincare secrets (no judgement, but can we please have some honesty?). Instead, they lament the powers of drinking water like a camel for glowing skin, and everybody just... believes them.

Which is why I’m here to bust this myth and bring you all the truth. Let's get into it.

What Causes Dry Skin?

First up, there's a difference between dry and dehydrated skin.

  • Dry skin = a skin type characterised by a lack of oil in the skin.

  • Dehydrated skin = a temporary skin condition or state characterised by a lack of water in the skin.

Being a skin type, dry skin is partly caused by your genetics. Sebum (our body's natural oils) is produced by your sebaceous glands to moisturise the skin. Got too much oil? You probably have oily skin. And if your face doesn't make enough on its own, it can contribute to dry skin.

Dehydrated skin can happen to all skin types, and is caused by anything that might impair your skin barrier. A strong and healthy skin barrier will help your skin keep the good things in, like water, and the bad things out, like pollution and irritants.

Common things that can impair your skin barrier include: extreme weather conditions like low humidity, cold air/dry winds, continuous contact with harsh chemicals (like those found in swimming pools), products such as cleansers/soaps that strip the skin of its natural oils, and super-hot showers, to name a few.

You can learn more about different skin types in our beginners skin care YouTube video below!

Does Drinking Water Actually Hydrate Your Skin?

OK now let’s go back to the water myth *screams internally* because there’s just no scientific proof or research to date that can adequately measure the effect of water intake on skin hydration.

AND I will die on this hill because the truth is, when you drink water, the skin on your face is probably the last place it’ll go. In other words, drinking water doesn't magically = healthy, hydrated skin. It just doesn't work that way, regardless of what you've read in a celebrity interview.

Water Benefits for Skin - Are There Any?

However, that’s not to say we need to dismiss drinking water altogether. Water is still THE best beauty elixir your body will ever need, plus it's free! Water will help your body get rid of waste materials, and consuming enough water every day will help with your hydration levels, which in turn, can positively affect your skin health. 

Hang on, I thought you said drinking water can't hydrate the skin on your face?

It can't, but when you drink water, it’s absorbed by the intestines and circulated throughout the body in the form of bodily fluids, including your blood. The more blood carrying water, oxygen and nutrients flowing around your body delivering good things to your cells, the better. And at a cellular level, these nutrients are needed for healthy skin.

Am I making sense yet? So, drinking enough water is excellent for your overall health and wellbeing, but it can't replace a good skincare routine.

The Best Products for Dry and Dehydrated Skin.

yads aspect hydrating serumyads aspect hydrating serum

So, now we know drinking a million litres of water a la supermodels (and having to pee every five minutes) won't actually hydrate your skin, what can?

Ensuring you’re using the right moisturiser is the number one way to help hydrate dry/dehydrated skin.

Look for hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, ceramides, hyaluronic acid and omega fatty acids. These ingredients help to protect you from the environment while simultaneously working on increasing the water-holding capacity of your skin to keep it looking healthy and youthful.

Here are my two favourite products for plump, hydrated skin.

1. The Best Hydrating Serum.

aspect hydrating serumaspect hydrating serum

What: Aspect Hydrating Serum

Why it's so good:

This is such a good daily hydrating face serum. It contains high levels of hyaluronic acid, can be used AM or PM, combines well with everything and, most importantly, it absorbs well into the skin. This means it isn’t tacky and works well with makeup applied over the top.

The formula contains multiple weights of hyaluronic acid that can attract and bind to water molecules in the different layers of your skin. But while the serum is very hydrating on its own, if you are very dry or severely dehydrated, then I’d follow with a heavy moisturiser and/or an oil over the top.

2. The Best Moisturiser for Dry Skin.

skinceuticals emollienceskinceuticals emollience

What: SkinCeuticals Emollience

Why it's so good:

Speaking of excellent moisturisers, this is one of my favourite moisturisers for dry/sensitised skin. Formulated with algae extract, a water-binding agent, it not only helps provide long-lasting hydration and antioxidant protection, but it actually absorbs into the skin, too.

Plant oils such like macadamia nut oil, chamomile and mango butter will help soothe and strengthen your skin. But the texture isn’t oily or incredibly rich like a lot of other mega-hydrating face creams made for dry skin. You can also use this morning or night, love a multi-use.