Is there any truth to the “drinking water for skin benefits” beauty secret celebrities always tout? Read about what happened when one of our writers tried it out!
At any given moment, I have a list of abstract goals in the back of my head. This includes things like exercising regularly, eating healthy, and getting Jon Hamm to propose to me. One of these goals is something very simple I’ve thought about for years: drinking water.
I’ve always wondered what consuming a good amount of water can do for your skin and your health. Normally, I absolutely hate drinking water. But knowing that I’ve been drinking an insufficient amount my entire life, I was curious to see what changes actually drinking enough water would bring. I decided to drink the proper amount of water for two weeks and see what happened.
How much water should you drink?
According to Annie Chiu, dermatologist and founder of the Derm Institute in Los Angeles, how much water you need depends on factors like how active you are and how much you sweat. But to give you a rough estimate, “you should drink one ounce for every pound you weigh for ultimate hydration.”
For me, this means I have to drink 12.5 cups a day. Usually, I drink 2-3 cups.
Will drinking water benefit your skin?
According to Chiu, there isn’t a significant amount of published research on this topic. But generally speaking, hydration improves skin “turgor,” which means that it plumps the skin and decreases the appearance of fine lines and dark circles. “Drinking enough water may also help keep skin clear as it does help flush out toxins through supporting metabolic pathways,” adds Chiu.
Can I substitute water with other fluids and expect the same results?
Caffeine changes how much water is retained in the body, Chiu says. While there’s water in the foods you eat—cucumbers and watermelons, for instance, have very high water content—it’s much easier to calculate how much water you drink than sorting out the water content in everything else you eat or drink.
Luckily, I don’t drink caffeinated drinks, including coffee. To make sure this experiment goes smoothly, I decided to track only the amount of plain water I’m drinking and to keep my diet the same throughout the two weeks. I also kept my skin care routine minimal and exactly the same morning and night, with the exception of applying SPF in the morning. I exfoliated only once a week and took a pause on using my beloved Triple C Lightning Liquid as well as my sheet masks.
Since I’m not used to drinking so much water, I came up with a rough schedule: Three cups in the morning to start the day, six at work, and then three again in the evening during Netflix time. To be fair, this schedule quickly fell apart, and I ended up cramming up to nine cups at work or six cups at night (not recommended).
As much as I tried to hit the target amount every day, there were a couple times when I just missed the mark. One of those times was I went to a comedy show with my siblings and had two glasses of wine. I went to bed without compensating for that amount with extra water. The next morning, I woke up feeling extremely dehydrated, almost like a prune. My skin looked fine, thanks to my skin care routine, but I felt like I had a tiny old man screaming for a glass of water in the back of my throat. I forced myself to chug three cups of water, and while this relieved the dehydration to a certain degree, it also made me feel extremely bloated.
Another mishap happened one evening when I accidentally went to a hot yoga class instead of a regular one. By the end of the class, I was lightheaded from all the downward dogs, and the floor was slippery with everyone’s sweat. When I got home, I drank a huge jar of water before bed, and I didn’t even have to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night because my body had absorbed all the water.
Some helpful tips:
Despite my struggles in the first few days, I picked up a few tips along the way that made drinking water a lot smoother.
First, get a huge glass—the bigger the better. I used this 32-ounce glass jar, equivalent to four cups of water. If I powered through one to two jars throughout the work day, I could get away with less in the evening.
The second tip I picked up from Meg, a fellow writer on The Klog, was to use a straw. This sounds silly, but it makes a huge difference. It allows you to take tiny sips at a time, so you can avoid taking big gulps that make you feel bloated. Using a straw also allows for mindless drinking, so you can go through a whole jar and a half without thinking about how much you hate drinking water.
The last tip I picked up is to mix your water with other things. Of course, chugging other fluids like tea or sugary drinks didn’t count towards my water quota, but I still needed something to change things up once in awhile. So on some days, I mixed my water with a little bit of fresh lemon juice or noni juice, just about a couple tablespoons.
In terms of my skin, my dark circles definitely became less noticeable. But the puffiness was still there, and I found that there were ups and downs with the general appearance of the eye area, depending on how much sleep I got. I didn’t notice anything different in terms of the texture of my skin or how hydrated it felt, either. My skin did look a tiny bit more even, but the redness came back as soon as I had a glass of wine.
In terms of my body, I also didn’t see a change in my metabolism. For me, my metabolism seems more dependent on my cycle than how much water I drink. One thing that did surprise me was that despite the amount of water I was drinking, I actually didn’t have to go to the bathroom that often. I don’t know if this is because my body had been like a dry sponge, deprived of water my entire life, but having to run to the bathroom turned out not to be a concern.
One big change I did notice was how much more sensitive my body became to dehydration. Now, when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I crave is water. If I don’t drink a glass of water for a few hours, I feel parched. The morning after a night out, I feel like my body has been drained of all fluids, including my blood. So ironically, I feel even more dehydrated than before because I feel the dehydration so acutely, though in reality, I’m more hydrated than ever before.
Takeaway: You can’t really expect drinking water to give you better skin
Since I expected drinking water to magically plump and even out my skin, I was surprised to see that there was no dramatic difference in my skin. But according to Charlotte, “drinking a lot of water is more likely to benefit your vital organs first, and unfortunately your skin is not going to be hydrated from the inside out.” That’s why you need to apply humectants like hyaluronic acid to see more hydrated skin. This involves layering several products with different consistencies to really push the hydration down into your skin.
While this experiment didn’t make me love drinking water, it made me realize how much I’ve been depriving my body of water. Even though you shouldn’t expect to have perfect skin with water alone, supplementing it with effective products will help your skin achieve its optimal hydration level.