Does drinking water benefit skin?

How skin hydration actually works.

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
May 20, 2020 · 3 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

If you already know how important it is to stay hydrated, you might assume that drinking more water benefits the skin. But from a medical perspective, drinking water to help the internal functions of your body doesn’t necessarily impact your external skin. If you have dry skin, drinking water won’t make much difference — I know that’s disappointing! But you can hydrate your skin by using moisturizers with ingredients that help skin lock in moisture.

The real benefits of drinking water

How hydrated you are doesn’t have any direct effect on improving dry skin, acne breakouts, wrinkles, or aging skin. However, our bodies do function best when we’re adequately hydrated, so it’s important to drink enough water to quench thirst and replace fluids lost by sweating. Water helps your body in so many ways, including regulating body temperature, helping to get rid of waste through urination and perspiration, and keeping internal organs healthy.

Most of us have heard that we should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. There is no hard evidence to support this rule, but it remains popular (probably because it’s easy to remember). But how much water you need varies depending on our age, sex, health, activity level, the climate we live in, and how much hydration we get from other sources, such as other beverages and water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.

Making water your drink of choice is one of the best ways to keep hydrated. Here are a few tips from the CDC:

  • Drink water with meals

  • Drink water whenever you’re thirsty

  • Choose water instead of sugary beverages (like soda or juice)

  • Carry a water bottle during the day for easy access

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How to hydrate your skin

There’s a difference between dry and dehydrated skin. Dry skin describes a skin type that produces very little oil (sebum). Dehydration describes what occurs when the skin lacks water — technically, even oily skin can be dehydrated! Both dry and dehydrated skin can feel tight, dry, rough or flaky.

Drinking water won’t directly target dry or dehydrated skin, but body lotion and facial moisturizer can. You can use a moisturizer to help dry or dehydrated skin (even better, apply to damp skin just after showering to “seal in” moisture), but keep in mind that if you have naturally dry skin, you can’t change your skin type.

There are lots of moisturizers to choose from, and you’ll want to choose one based on your specific skin type. Generally speaking, a gel moisturizer offers lighter-weight hydration, while a thick cream is deeply moisturizing. Here are a few products I recommend:

For all skin types:

  • The gel moisturizer by Curology

  • Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream

For dry and aging skin:

  • The rich moisturizer by Curology

For dry skin:

  • Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Night Cream with Hyaluronic Acid

Your questions, answered

As one of Curology’s in-house medical providers, I’m here to help you get to know your skin even better. When you get your first month of Curology for free, you’ll be paired with a licensed medical provider (like me!) to get customized prescription skincare delivered to your door. Just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling.

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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