A Dermatologist's Reflections on Wellness and Water Transformation
Updated: Oct 4
The importance of water to our bodies is evident; we need it to live. As a dermatologist, most of the concerns my patients have related to water is how to keep their skin optimally hydrated. I am going to run through some of the questions I commonly get in the clinic about skin hydration:
Will drinking more water hydrate my skin? There does not seem to be a correlation between water intake and skin hydration. Absolutely, you want to stay adequately hydrated for overall health. This inevitably leads to the question of how much water should be consumed daily. That answer ranges from 8 to 15 cups, depending on the source and whether male or female. I think it is a bit easier to use urine color. You want it to look like lemonade! But if you have any medical conditions, discuss optimal water intake with your physician.
So I can’t drink my way to hydrated skin, just use any lotion to hydrate it? If only it were that simple. You can not really moisturize the skin from the outside. What you can do is use products that minimize the amount of water that evaporates from the skin, known as trans-epidermal water loss. With less evaporation, the water content of the skin increases.
It sounds like there may be some products that are better than others. For sure. You want to look for a moisturizer that has an ingredient that stops water loss (called an occlusive) and one that holds water in the skin (called a humectant). The best occlusives are oils like mineral oil or jojoba oil, for example. Hyaluronic acid is a very popular humectant currently, but there are others, such as glycerin and sorbitol.
What about micellar water, does that hydrate my skin? Micellar water is a cleanser that is great for removing makeup, but does not hydrate the skin. The great thing about micellar water is that it is gentle, so will not be irritating to more sensitive skin types.
What about facial water sprays? These also do not moisturize the skin. The face may have a temporary dewy appearance after use, but the water will rapidly evaporate. Some sprays do add a humectant, which will hold the water on the skin longer. Some sprays contain minerals that may possess anti-inflammatory properties, which may improve inflammatory skin conditions like acne, eczema, or even age-related changes.
Anything else I should know about moisturizing my skin? Ideally, you want to apply your moisturizer on damp skin. So right after cleansing or on top of a facial water. If your skin is dry, use gentle cleansers without fragrance. The use of a humidifier will also reduce water loss from the skin by slowing evaporation.
What about the water I am using to wash my face, any concerns there? This is a thought-provoking question I recently encountered. And the answer is maybe, especially if you live somewhere with hard water, which can contain chloride, fluoride, calcium, and other minerals that could clog pores, cause inflammation, and negatively affect the skin barrier. If your skin is struggling, using filtered water could be worth a try.