You’ve seen a dried-out sponge, right? Cracked, wrinkled and worse for wear. That same sponge perks up nicely, though, with just a few drops of water. It’s only natural to think that other cracked and wrinkled objects — like your freaking face — would plump and tone with a healthy swig of hydrating liquid.
Not so fast, says science
The trouble with persistent beauty myths, like this drinking water one, is that they’re based on partial fact. I caught up with dermatologist Dr. Alex Rivkin to get the down-low on the drinking water myth, and to find out what drinking water can actually do for your skin.
“We are about 60 percent water,” Rivkin explained. “Water is essential to life for all living beings. However, water isn’t fairy dust and it does not magically turn back the clock or make wrinkles disappear on a well-hydrated face.” Instead, water improves the health of skin as part of a normal, healthy diet. According to Rivkin, people who ingest less than two to three liters of water per day may experience chronic dehydration, which causes the body to pull water away from all organs, including the skin. “This causes damage to the cells involved, and damaged skin cells cause wrinkles, as well as thin and saggy skin throughout the body,” he said.
In other words, this beauty myth is partially accurate because all people need to drink enough water to avoid chronic dehydration and cell damage over time. However, the belief that drinking more water can moisturize your skin from the inside out simply isn’t accurate. “Drinking water is like electricity,” said Rivkin. “Your dishwasher needs it to function, but if you double the amount the dishwasher gets, your dishes do not come out twice as clean.”
How to hydrate your skin
Thankfully, you don’t have to resign yourself to looking like a shriveled old sponge. Rivkin is clear that you can hydrate your skin through healthy habits and products. “Drink the amount of water you need to make your skin look the best it can,” Rivkin explained. “Avoiding dehydration makes sure you do not damage your skin by drying it out.” As for skin moisture, Rivkin concluded that it might be easier than you think. “Moisturizer is actually one of the only topical skin treatments that has been shown to visibly improve skin. It only works if you use it daily, and it works best when used with sunscreen,” he said.
Easy enough, right? Drink water to stay hydrated and healthy, but not to fill in your wrinkles from the inside out. Instead, rely on a high-quality topical moisturizer to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.