Ask any celebrity with glowing skin how she keeps her complexion looking so healthy, and you’re likely to get the same answer: drink lots of water. Jennifer Aniston told Marie Claire that “hydration, hydration, hydration” is one of her biggest beauty secrets. Gabrielle Union told the New York Times she drinks a gallon of water each day. Cameron Diaz even wrote in one of her books that she starts her mornings by chugging a bottle of water, because when she does, “I go from being a wilted plant to one that has just been rejuvenated by the rain.”
These famous ladies have access to all the facials and fancy skincare products they could ever dream of, but at the end of the day, most of them swear by staying hydrated. So, do they have a point? Is water really the #1 secret to great skin?
The answer isn’t so black and white. It likely goes without saying that beyond skincare, there are countless benefits to proper hydration. Staying hydrated each day is integral to the function of your heart, brain, joints, and other systems. Skin is certainly one of the organs that benefit from hydration, but water doesn’t reach the surface of your skin until it’s served all your major organs first—so you’ve really got to make sure you’re drinking all that you need if you want it to benefit your complexion.
While plenty of people have shared anecdotal evidence for their skin immediately firming up and starting to glow after drinking a bottle of water, it’s not exactly a skincare magic trick. There’s actually surprisingly little research on the correlation between water and appearance. Most experts attribute this to the fact that water is impossible for a pharmaceutical company to patent and sell, so there isn’t much incentive to conduct large-scale research on its benefits. (The same has also been said of essential oils and other natural ingredients that don’t have substantial data behind them.)
What little research has been conducted on water and skincare has mostly just made the discussion that much more complicated. One study out of the Kaplan Medical Centre in Israel that looked at the effects of water intake on skin found contradictory results without a clear conclusion. Another study, from the University of Missouri-Columbia, found that drinking 500 mm of water led to an increased in blood flow to skin, but didn’t find any proof that this impacted appearance.
What we do know is that dry skin can be flaky, more prone to aging, and not particularly cute to look at—and, obviously, hydration helps prevent dryness. So it’s within the realm of common sense to assume that, if nothing else, drinking lots of water certainly isn’t a bad thing for your skin. And because water is so beneficial to the rest of your body, as well as your overall health, you should be drinking lots of it anyway.
What we eat may impact our skin’s natural oil processes and acne levels, and some dermatologists believe that water may have a similar impact on our skin. That said, water won’t necessarily take the place of products designed to keep your skin hydrated. You’ll still want to regularly apply a great natural moisturiser (if you’re not sure where to start, we love Suntegrity Moisturiser and Kahina Giving Beauty Argan Oil.) This can help retain your skin’s elasticity, prevent aging, and contribute to your complexion’s overall wellness. Aim to apply it soon after getting out of the shower for top-notch absorption and impact.
Whether it makes your skin glow or not, drinking enough water each day can lead to all kinds of improvements in your life—especially if you’re often dehydrated without realizing it. Getting enough water can help you stay alert and energetic on long days. It can help curb junk food cravings, because hunger pangs and thirst can feel surprisingly similar. Most importantly, though, drinking enough water can help your body function the way it’s supposed to. Your organs rely on that H2O to keep you going and to keep you in optimal health.
To make sure you’re getting all the water you need, aim to drink about eight glasses per day of 250ml. Try to space them out throughout the day, as your body can only absorb so much at one time. (And don’t worry too much about whether it’s bottled or infused with mystery minerals—as long as you’re living in a community with safe tap water, drinking straight from the tap is perfectly fine for keeping you healthy and hydrated.) On hot days or in situations where you’re sweating a lot, take care to check in with yourself and be extra aware of your water intake. Up to 60% of your body is made up of water, so don’t be afraid to drink up! Your health will thank you for it!