Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Water and the skin - tips for maximizing hydration levels

Most people show some signs of dehydration in the skin, lacking water or moisture. You can have any skin type: dry (less oil), oily, or combination, and still be dehydrated. All “moisturizers” are not necessarily moisturizing. This is a misnomer, since moisturizing means hydrating or adding water. Water is good for the skin, which is made up of about 70% water. Proper amount of water intake is necessary for all bodily systems, including the skin, to flourish.

To see if you’re drinking enough water, here’s an easy calculation: divide your weight in half (pounds), drink half as many ounces – for example, if you weigh 100lbs., drink a minimum of 50 ounces. Add more when you exercise. Drink one additional glass of water for each drink containing caffeine and for every alcoholic beverage, including a glass of wine.

*If you have any kidney or adrenal problems, or your doctor has you taking diuretics, you'll need to consult with your doctor about how much water to drink each day, as these are special circumstances.

*Don't drink all of the water you need per day all at once. Instead, divide the amount you need and drink several glasses of water throughout the day. This is especially important if you engage in lots of heavy exercise, which depletes water. If you have trouble drinking all that water, try adding some naturally sweet fruit juice. I have heard that the sugars make the water closer to the composition of glucose. This may make the water more available for use in the body, instead of just flushing it out. Also, authorities are now saying that non-caffeinated or herbal teas may be counted in your water uptake.

Use a humidifier in the home or office, especially with indoor heat in winter. Apply your skin care products in this way: use water before oil. After cleansing and toning, leave the face slightly moist before applying cream or lotion. The occlusive quality of the lotion or cream will help seal moisture in the skin.

Products containing humectants like functional honey, glycerin, sorbitol, urea and propylene glycol can help draw moisture to the outer layers of the skin - this works two ways. In climates where humidity is less than 70%, the humectant draws the water from the deeper layers of the skin (dermal) towards the outer layers (epidermal) - this is why it is important to have enough water available in the body for the skin to replenish itself. In climates where humidity is greater than 70%, the humectant draws water from the atmosphere towards the outer epidermal layer of skin.

Look for topical products, such as serums and gels, containing a high concentration of hyaluronic acid (an essential lubricating component of cells) or hyaluranon or sodium hyaluronate. These are great for hydrating the skin and are typically used after cleansing, toning and before applying heavier creams. I have been using SkinCeuticals in work and I really like the results I am seeing with Hydrating B5 gel.

Hyaluronic acid may also be taken internally as a nutriceutical supplement. I like the NSI brand which also contains Type II Collagen. (see my post on photorejuvenation for more on collagen.) You can pick it up at

In short, for best results, hydrate your skin from the inside out and the outside in. Take in enough water, use products that increase the water available to the skin, and use supplements which help the body replenish where needed.

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