The first and most important reason is a matter of definition. Hydration refers to the water content of the skin, while moisture indicates oil content. Dry skin is lacking oil, and since, just like in salad dressing, oil and water don’t mix, you can’t moisturize your skin by applying or drinking water. [Tweet this!]
Another problem with trying to hydrate your skin internally is simply the fact that it’s virtually impossible to take in enough water to significantly increase water content of the skin. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to take in enough of any single nutrient to see a specific benefit on the skin. Your body works on an emergent basis, meaning that it prioritizes your vital organs over your skin. Although you want your skin to look great, your body doesn’t so much care as long as the skin isn’t broken. So it sends all that hydration (or other nutrients) to your stomach, your heart, your lungs, or your brain. But don’t misunderstand this statement… your skin is absolutely affected by your diet. It’s just affected in more general ways, such as in the glow or the clarity of the skin. Drinking water can help a lot in these areas, especially if you’re drinking water instead of a high calorie sugary beverage!
Finally, the most glaring inaccuracy of this myth is that we don’t actually need to drink 64 ounces of water in order to be adequately hydrated. Any nutritionist will tell you that we get most of the water we need from fruits and veggies, so those of us that eat lots of those probably don’t need to drink a lot of water on top of that. Even coffee doesn’t dehydrate the way most people think it does. For more, I’ll refer you to my go-to nutrition source, the Nutrition Diva, who discusses this in more scientific detail.
So, now how to hydrate your skin, if not by drinking water? A few tips:
- Serums that have a watery texture and use ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, hyaluronic acid, glycerin or aloe can be great for leaving a little water in the skin. Make sure to layer this under a skin-type appropriate moisturizer in order to seal that hydration into the skin.
- Spritz an alcohol-free toner on before you moisturize. This is the only purpose to a toner, in my opinion. It leaves the skin damp, and the moisturizer can again lock it in. Rosewater, inexpensive and easy to find at most health food stores, is perfect for this.
- If you’re oilier, use an light-weight moisturizer that has some of the above listed ingredients in it. Avoid mineral oil.
Remember that you can be oily and dehydrated, as well as dry and dehydrated. Hydration is a skin condition, not a skin type. Most people benefit from more hydration. Hydrated skin is fuller, plumper, and softer. So spritz on that toner and stop beating yourself up for not getting a full two liters of water every day.