You may have seen those viral images: the close-up pictures of scrubbed clean faces under bright lights separated by just a few weeks or so, maybe a month. The only difference? The subject drank a boatload of water in that time and seems to look different, if not “better” in the more recent photo. Can drinking enough water really make you look younger? Are there really benefits of drinking water for the skin?
What we know for sure is that genetics play a huge role in how our skin and overall appearance is going to look. The size of our pores, the age of wrinkles and sagging, even puffiness under the eyes can all be somewhat predetermined by our parents and grandparents and everyone who came before them.
But of course, that is only part of the story. In fact, our lifestyle does play a significant role in the quality of our skin and our overall health. While genetics do allow for some people to eat junk food or party all night and still look amazing in the morning, most of us are not so fortunate. And an unhealthy diet will not only do damage on us internally (hello heart disease and diabetes), but it will also impact our skin: dark circles under the eyes, more prominent lines and wrinkles, sallowness, and even making us appear older.
Enter hydration. As in, water.
You’ve likely heard that drinking eight glasses of water a day is vital for health. But what is it doing for your skin? Anything?
Let’s step back to the diet and lifestyle factors. If you’re subsisting on Doritos and (diet) soda, you’re likely not leaving room for either water or hydrating foods (fruits and vegetables). In other words: while those foods do lots of disservice to the body in numerous ways, one of the most common issues we overlook is that of dehydration.
Processed foods are loaded with salt, sodas, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol also move the water out of your body. And if it’s not being replaced regularly, you’re battling chronically low-level dehydration. Of course your skin is going to look less than gorgeous.
Still, there’s not much research on skin health and water consumption. Women’s Health Magazine references a 2007 study that found drinking 2.25 liters (9.5 cups) of water every day for four weeks “altered skin density and thickness, but the exact results were contradictory.” Another study showed that drinking at least two cups of water enhanced blood flow to the skin, which may help to bring about a rosiness to lips and cheeks and an overall “glow” to the skin, but the study didn’t pinpoint exactly how that improves appearance, if at all.
So should you be drowning yourself in nonstop water consumption?
The answer is probably no. There’s no need to obsess over your hydration. But keeping your cells hydrated from the inside, is likely to have similar benefits to all the efforts to hydrate from the outside.
If drinking water seems to slip your mind, there are a few simple tricks to making sure you get enough:
- Drink a full glass of water upon waking.
- Set an alarm on your phone for every two or three hours to remind you to drink a glass of water. Focus on the water; don’t do anything else while you’re drinking it. Don’t leave it next to your computer while you work and soon forget about it (or worse, spill it on said computer!).
- Or drink a full glass before you sit down to a meal or snack. This will also help you eat less if you’re looking to lose a little weight and may reduce the urge to binge on not-so-healthy junk food. Score.
- Alternate with alcohol. Social drinking is fun, of course, but it’s easy to overdo it. Alternating water between every drink will not only help you keep your skin looking its best, but it’ll reduce the hangover the next morning as well.