Dehydration can be a disaster for your skin, not to mention having health implications for the rest of your body. This article explores what we need to know to when it comes to hydration from an internal and topical perspective and some easy guidelines to apply to your daily routines.
So why is water consumption so important, people survive drinking very little don’t they?
“Water is defined as an essential nutrient because it is required in amounts that exceed the body's ability to produce it. All biochemical reactions occur in water. It fills the spaces in and between cells and helps form structures of large molecules such as protein and glycogen. Water is also required for digestion, absorption, transportation, dissolving nutrients, elimination of waste products and thermoregulation” (Kleiner 1999). (1)
Water is lost from perspiration, respiration, and bodily elimination, which can add up to a loss of 1 ½ to 2 litres per day.
Diuretic substances in your diet that will increase water elimination from the body such as caffeinated beverages, alcohol, high sugar and salty foods.
Water requirements range from 8-10 cups per day depending on diet and activity levels.
Diminished sense of thirst and less fluid consumption can occur as we age, it is therefore important to ensure we drink adequate amounts of water, even in the absence of thirst.
Key signs of mild to moderate dehydration: Increased sensation of pain, stiffness, headaches, lack of concentration and fatigue, and skin problems.
Total dietary water can be consumed from drinking pure water as well as from obtaining water from foods in the diet.
Depending on diet, up to 50% of daily water intake allowance can be derived from foods if they are high in water content such as fruits, juices, salad vegetables ie; iceberg lettuce and cucumber, and soups.
*Key tip - There are many of us who crave salt but be aware that this can be a signal from the body that you are dehydrated, so before reaching for the table salt or salty foods try drinking more water first.
How does dehydration impact your skin?
Dehydrated skin means there is a lack of water / moisture content within the skin. (epidermis and dermis)
When dehydrated the skin will appear to have fine crepy lines, dead cell build-up (flakiness), closed comedones (blackheads). Skin can also feel rough or have small visible bumps.
Skin turgor test is a reliable method to test dehydration. When you pinch the skin if it is slow to return to normal it shows there is dehydration occurring.
Dry skin is essentially a lack of oil (generated from sebaceous glands) which is generally a lifelong condition due to genetic influences.
The skin contains approximately 30% water. “Water intake, particularly in individuals with low initial water intake, can improve skin thickness and density and offsets trans-epidermal water loss (water lost through the skin surface)”. (2) Hydration improves skin resiliency, elasticity, and texture.
The water content in the skin contributes to important functions of the skin, such as enzyme activation skin needed for lipid processing and dead cell removal (breaking protein bonds that hold cells together) and the development of a healthy skin barrier.
The skin barrier guards the skin from microbial infections and infiltration of foreign substances which can cause skin flare ups.
Water deficiency can also lead to impaired skin processes, which can then worsen skin disorders such as dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and rosacea.
Key topical ingredients for skin hydration:
Saccharides, Hyaluronic acid or Sodium Hyaluronate, Natural moisturising factors (Amino acids, Minerals, Urea, Sodium PCA), Aloe vera, and Marine algae extracts due to high mineral and polysaccharide content.
Occlusive ingredients are also important to help retain moisture within the skin and slow the rate of transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Look for the following natural ingredients:
Shea butter, jojoba esters, phytosterols, and ceramides.
*Key tip - Hydration Serums should be applied to skin first in order to allow maximum penetration of the ingredients. A good hydration formula should always have some lipid based ingredients in order to help facilitate the absorption of purely water based ingredients.
The phospholipid base and carefully selected lipids in the Hydro-Therapy Line Filling Serum ensure maximum penetration and hydration for the skin.
Vitamin A (Betacarotene) and Zinc supplements will help regulate keratinisation. Electrolytes and Multi-mineral supplements are important any time excessive sweat is produced either through exercise or illness.
5 key tips to keeping hydrated:
1. Consume high water content foods.
Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – this will assist in keeping your body hydrated as well. Examples of high water content foods are; soups, salads, fruits and vegetables.
2. Make a plan.
If you are not used to drinking water on a regular basis, start with a plan to have 4 drinks per day. One glass on rising, one mid-morning, one mid-afternoon, and one on retiring. This eliminates 4 out 8 glasses per day. Once you establish this routine start adding more opportunities to drink such as at mealtimes.
3. Keep water with you at all times.
Keep a refillable water bottle with you at work, in your car, and take with you when you go on walks etc. Get used to sipping on water as part of your daily routine. Convenience is key, otherwise if it’s out of sight, it’s often out of mind!
4. Add some flavor.
If you are one of those people who hate the taste of water find a way to make it more enticing. Add some fresh herbs like mint, or fresh fruit, or a splash (just a very small amount) of juice just enough to add a hint of flavour. Look for flavour infused, sugar free mineral waters.
5. Have Variety.
Mix up your water variety and add in some natural sparkling mineral water, or give Coconut water a try.
For more information on the health benefits of water and charts for daily consumption follow link: www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/water
- Kleiner SM. Water: An essential but overlooked nutrient. J Amer Diet Assoc 1999;99:200-6
- Lídia Palma, Liliana Tavares Marques, Julia Bujan, Luís Monteiro Rodrigues; Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics; Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 3rd August 2015
- Barry M. Popkin, Kristen E. D’Anci, Irwin H. Rosenberg. Water, Hydration and Health; Nutr Rev. 2010 August ; 68(8): 439–458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x.