Is your skin properly hydrated? The impact may surprise you
We don’t hear a lot about hydration in relation to helping aging skin avoid wrinkles, fine lines, sagging and redness. When it comes to hydration, we associate dry skin with a lack of oil content - leading to tightness, itchiness, flaking, scaling, cracking and ashy skin among other things. These are the symptoms most see with dry skin, and lack of moisture is what most feel is causing it. However, both dry and oily skin can be dehydrated, causing accelerated aging and other issues and making hydration a key component to healthy skin. Moisture is just one piece of the picture - keeping skin looking and feeling youthful and vibrant requires a balanced routine of fats and fluids, both as part of your diet and part of your skin care.
Balancing Skin with Fats and Fluids
Skin is made up of three layers — the outer layer (epidermis), the underlying skin (dermis) and the subcutaneous tissue. When the epidermis doesn't contain enough water, skin will lose elasticity and feel rough, a sign it is dehydrated. Dehydrated skin lacks both fluid and fat content, and will quickly become imbalanced, leading to accelerated aging. There is a lack of research showing that drinking water has a direct impact on skins hydration, but the fact of the matter is that skin needs care from the inside out and outside in - including proper water intake.
Drinking appropriate amounts of water allows the system to flush toxins, fuel organ functions, and regenerate. When it comes to how much water, the truth is there is no universal number. It depends on your weight and how much you sweat.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (apx 1 gallon) of fluids a day for men
- About 11.5 cups (apx 3/4 gallon) of fluids a day for women
Dehydration can also negatively impact our mood, cravings, and energy levels. Often, a short temper or intense craving is really a sign that the body has not had enough water. Check in with yourself regularly to determine if you are staying properly hydrated. When in doubt, drink a glass and see how you feel! In addition to drinking enough fluids, foods that contain high amounts of water such as cucumbers, celery, watermelon, soup and herbal teas, are a great way to stay hydrated through the day.
Essential fatty acids, including Omega 3,6 and 9, claim an equally important role in our skins health. Our bodies do not produce these EFAs naturally, so adding healthy fats to our diet (see anti-inflammatory diet blog) and applying them topically can be a game changer for skin health.
EFAs help cell walls maintain flexibility, improve circulation and oxygen uptake within the cells. They act as building blocks in skin cells, strengthening the skin’s surface layers, and as a humectant, creating a barrier that helps retain water within the skin. This is an important component of their benefits considering that as we age our body’s natural ability to retain moisture is reduced, increasing the visible signs of aging.
Essential fatty acids are an ally for oily skin as well as dry skin- they help create a balanced skin biome by reducing clogged pores, enabling skin to breathe and function properly, and reducing overproduction of natural oil.
The Sum of Both
- Strengthens the skin’s surface
- Maintains a healthy skin barrier
- Helps to protect against UV and environmental damage
- Helps regulate oil production
- Helps skin retain moisture and fluid content
- Aids in elasticity
- Soothes softens, and plumps
- Increases elasticity
- Reduces wrinkles
- Aids in fighting acne
- Reduces redness, flakiness and itchy skin
- Helps skin heal faster
Make Your Products Work for You
When choosing high-end anti-aging products, hydrating and beneficial ingredients are often paired with an excess of ‘wrinkle busting’ chemicals and fillers that actually accelerate the aging process - rendering the active ingredients ineffective. Countering visible signs of aging requires replenishing your skin, not stripping it. Don't be fooled by glycerin - it is a great humectant, meaning it helps your skin retain moisture, but too much can actually draw moisture out. The amount matters. If it is in the top 5 ingredients, there is probably too much. Mineral oil unlikely to clog pores on its own, but it can trap other pore-clogging ingredients in the skin.
In combination with proper hydration, essential fatty acids can help slow the signs of aging and maintain smooth, healthy skin. Select a product that has EFAs and hydrating ingredients such as: