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Hydration plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and appearance of our skin, far beyond the surface level. While we often hear advice to "drink more water" for glowing skin, the underlying science reveals a more complex relationship between fluid intake and skin health. In this article, we delve into how inadequate hydration can lead to vascular irregularities and impair the skin's overall function and appearance.

Hydration for Skin Health

Water is a fundamental component of the body, crucial for all forms of life. In humans, it not only quenches thirst but also serves as a vital element in maintaining skin health. The skin, our largest organ, is composed of multiple layers, each with specific roles in protecting the body and facilitating its functions. The dermis and epidermis, the two primary layers of the skin, rely on adequate hydration to perform their duties effectively. 

Inadequate fluid intake will impact both extracellular and intracellular fluids necessary for the activity of enzymes, catalysts, and filaggrin, leading to changes in the epidermis's skin barrier defense mechanisms. Not drinking enough water will slow down how water moves through your skin's deeper layer, making your skin less hydrated, and less supported. This means the stuff that keeps your skin firm and stretchy, like collagen and elastin, won't get the backup they need from your blood flow and lymph system (which helps balance all the fluids in your body).

Do You Have Dry Skin or Dehydrated Skin? – Hannah Curlita Beauty

How Poor Hydration Affects the Skin

Poor quality and quantity of fluid intake can severely impact the skin in several ways:

  1. Impaired Lymphatic System and Water Distribution: The lymphatic system plays a critical role in maintaining fluid balance in the body. Insufficient hydration can hamper the lymphatic system's ability to distribute water evenly across the dermis and epidermis. This imbalance disrupts the skin's normal function and appearance, contributing to vascular irregularities such as visible veins and redness.

  2. Reduced Dermal Hydration: Hydration is essential for maintaining the skin's plumpness, elasticity, and resilience. Without adequate water intake, the skin becomes dehydrated, leading to a decrease in dermal hydration. This condition compromises the support system for collagen and elastin fibrils, which are vital for the skin's firmness and elasticity.

  3. Decreased Support for Circulatory and Lymphatic Systems: The circulatory and lymphatic systems work together to nourish the skin and remove waste products. A reduction in fluid intake weakens these systems' support, affecting the skin's ability to regenerate and maintain its health.

  4. Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL): Adequate hydration ensures that a certain percentage of fluid reaches the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. Insufficient hydration increases TEWL, where water evaporates from the skin's surface, leading to dryness and impaired barrier function.

  5. Altered Skin Barrier Defense Systems: The skin's barrier defends against external aggressors and retains moisture. Poor hydration affects the formation of this barrier by altering enzyme activity and the production of filaggrin, a protein essential for skin health. Consequently, this can lead to issues with corneocyte compaction, lipid layers, desmosome dissolution, and acid mantle homogeneity, all of which are critical for a healthy skin barrier.

The power of marine phospholipids for skin care

Science Insights 

Various studies have made it clear that maintaining optimal hydration levels does play a pivotal role in supporting skin health on multiple fronts. According to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, they highlighted the molecular aspect of how hydration directly influences the skin barrier's integrity, notably through the production of natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) and filaggrin. These components are essential for retaining moisture and protecting against environmental aggressors. Decreased water content creates a steeper water gradient in the upper layers of the skin, which further exacerbates water loss and evaporation from the skin leading to further skin breakdown. In addition, unchecked dehydration further amplifies a perpetuating cycle, which produces greater compromise and function. 

Adequate hydration is indispensable for efficient lymphatic function and, consequently, for the removal of toxins and reduction of inflammation. The relationship between hydration, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and skin conditions shows the tangible benefits of proper fluid intake for enhancing the skin's barrier function and mitigating dryness. 

The Debate 

 The ongoing debate about whether drinking water alone can "cure" skin ailments has often oversimplified the complex relationship between hydration and skin health. Quite laughable if you ask me.. It's evident that adequate hydration is not merely beneficial but essential for fostering a robust skin barrier, supporting lymphatic health, minimizing TEWL, and preserving the skin's structural components. The key lies not just in how much water we drink but also in our body's ability to retain and utilize it effectively. Achieving optimal skin health extends beyond mere water intake, but through a holistic approach to skincare, by maintaining proper fluid intake with topical treatments designed to enhance the skin's ability to hold onto moisture. This integrated approach not only improves skin health and appearance but also strengthens the skin's defenses against the myriad of challenges it faces daily, offering a more nuanced and effective solution.

Embracing Adequate Hydration for Skin Vitality

While increasing fluid intake is great yes... understanding the broader context of how lifestyle factors, nutrition, and physiological changes contribute to skin hydration and overall condition is equally crucial. This perspective encourages you to reflect on various aspects of your daily lives that directly or indirectly influence their skin’s hydration levels and vascular health.

Lifestyle and Nutrition

  • Fatty Acids and Hydration: Reflect on your diet—does it include sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids? These essential nutrients play a significant role in retaining water within the skin, thereby enhancing hydration. Foods rich in omega-3, such as fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, and those containing omega-6, like sunflower seeds and vegetable oils, can significantly bolster your skin’s ability to maintain moisture.
  • Medications and Diuretic Substances: Consider the medications and foods you consume that may have diuretic effects, leading to increased fluid loss. Caffeinated beverages, certain medications, and alcohol can exacerbate dehydration, impacting your skin’s hydration and overall health.
  • Exercise for Lymphatic and Circulatory Support: Physical activity supports the lymphatic and circulatory systems, crucial for distributing nutrients and removing waste from the skin. Reflect on your exercise habits—regular movement can reduce compression and compromise of these systems, decreasing inflammation and improving skin vitality.

Physiological and Environmental Factors

  • Menopause and Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can significantly impact skin health, leading to increased dryness, inflammation, and vascular irregularities. Reflect on how these changes may be affecting your skin and consider discussing with a healthcare practitioner the role of hormone replacement therapy or other strategies to mitigate these effects.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy-induced changes in blood pressure, progesterone levels, and ADH hormone can affect skin hydration and elasticity. It's important to monitor these changes and adjust your skincare routine accordingly to maintain skin health during pregnancy.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Long periods of standing or sitting, negative work environments, and high-stress levels can all contribute to oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation, damaging skin cells and water retention. Reflect on these aspects of your life and consider strategies to mitigate their impact, such as taking regular breaks, practicing stress-reduction techniques, and ensuring a positive work-life balance.
  • Dietary Choices: A diet high in glycemic index foods, or poor in nutrition can compromise the skin’s barrier function and exacerbate hydration loss. 
  • Weather and Humidity: The skin's ability to maintain fluid balance, regulate temperature, and facilitate tactile interaction is profoundly affected by environmental conditions, including weather and humidity levels. From the dry heat of desert conditions to the cold and damp of rainy winters. Reflecting on your environment and adjusting your skincare routine to address the specific challenges posed by your climate is crucial for maintaining skin integrity and health.


Combat the adverse effects of poor hydration on the skin, it is essential to:

  • Maintain Adequate Fluid Intake: Obvious! Consuming enough water daily is crucial for maintaining optimal skin health and function.
  • Incorporate Hydrating Skincare Products: Products containing humectants, peptides and other auxiliary ingredients that support hydration  can help mitigate the effects of dehydration. Limiting the overuse of harsh cleansers!
  • Protect the Skin Barrier: Using products that support the skin's barrier function can prevent TEWL and maintain the skin's defense against environmental stressors. Products that fortify the skin's barrier, such as those rich in ceramides and fatty acids, are crucial for preventing TEWL and protecting against environmental stressors.

Embracing a holistic approach to skin hydration requires not only diligent water intake and the use of appropriate skincare products but also the bigger picture of a healthy lifestyle. By considering how diet, exercise, physiological changes, and lifestyle habits affect skin hydration and vascular health, you can adopt more effective strategies to enhance your skin’s vitality and resilience. 

Stay thirsty my friends...




Draelos, Z. D. (2009). Proper Skin Hydration and Barrier Function. Nutritional Cosmetics, 355–363.

Levin, J., Friedlander, S. F., & Del Rosso, J. Q. (2013). Atopic dermatitis and the stratum corneum: part 1: the role of filaggrin in the stratum corneum barrier and atopic skin. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 6(10), 16–22.

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