Updated 09/21/21. Chances are you’ve heard all about the importance of drinking water to hydrate your skin. Yet, no matter how much water you drink, your skin still feels dry and tight. Does this sound familiar? There’s a reason for this. Drinking water is actually the least efficient way to hydrate the skin (seriously!). In this post, I’ll clear up this common myth and share three things you can do to actually hydrate your skin. Keep scrolling for all of this and more.
Here’s Why Drinking Water Won’t Hydrate Your Skin
We need to dispel the myth that drinking water effectively hydrates the skin. Did you know that when you drink water, it doesn’t go straight to your skin? Instead, it runs through the intestines, absorbs into the bloodstream, and then gets filtered out by the kidneys. At this point, it will hydrate the cells inside the body. It’s just not possible for it to head straight to the cells in the outside layer of the skin (the epidermis).
While it’s still important to drink water for your overall health and well-being, it’s simply not an effective way to hydrate your skin. So, let’s focus on three things that actually will hydrate your skin! Below, see the best ways to make your skin look plump and healthy.
Here Are 3 Things That Will Hydrate Your Skin
1. Leaving a Toner Damp on the Skin
Many people don’t use toner. They think toners don’t provide any benefit to the skin. I can assure you they do. In fact, they provide five major benefits to the skin! One of those benefits is an instant boost of hydration. After cleansing, wipe an alcohol-free toner over the skin. The water and humectants in the toner will saturate your skin cells with much-needed hydration. Leave it damp (this is key), then immediately follow up with a serum or moisturizer for your specific skin type. Your skin will feel moist and dewy.
For the purpose of hydration, make sure you’re using a hydrating toner, such as the Moisture Infusion Toner. Avoid toners that contain SD alcohol 40, denatured alcohol, and exfoliating acids. These types of toners give a different result that is not about hydration.
2. Applying a Serum Underneath Your Moisturizer
To take your hydration to another level, I highly suggest you apply a serum underneath your moisturizer. It will take all of 10 seconds to apply, and it can dramatically improve hydration levels in the skin. Look for a serum with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, and panthenol. These are some of my favorite hydrating ingredients.
A good hydrating serum is the Skin Drink Concentrate. It can hydrate the skin with an oil-free, water-based formula that contains sodium hyaluronate, aloe vera, and vitamin C. I recommend people use it who have dehydrated, combination, and/or aging skin types.
3. Using a Gel-Based Mask
All masks are great for giving your skin a boost. When it comes to delivering water-based hydration, though, a gel mask is what you want. They often contain hydrating ingredients like those I listed above, and since gels naturally have a lower temperature, they feel cooling on the skin. This is helpful for soothing redness (especially during the summer). You can use a gel mask as often as every night. Apply it after cleansing and before proceeding with a hydrating toner, serum, and moisturizer. For an extra cooling effect, put it in the fridge 30 minutes before use.
There Is One Skin Benefit of Drinking Water…
There is one noticeable skin benefit of drinking water that I have personally observed, and that’s the reduction of under-eye puffiness. Whenever I eat high-sodium foods (particularly at night), I retain excess fluid around my eyes. I end up with more puffiness than normal when I wake up the next morning. Knowing this, I make sure to double up on my water intake to help manage water retention in my face and body. It really does help. For more information about under-eye puffiness and how you can mitigate it, read this blog post.
The Bottom Line
Drinking water simply doesn’t hydrate the skin the way you might have been lead to believe. As I always say, skin cells are like fish in that they need water to survive. Applying topical hydration via skincare products is the most effective way to plump up thirsty skin cells and get that dewy, fresh-looking skin you’re after.
There’s one final thing you should know. Dry and dehydrated skin are not the same thing and they each need to be addressed differently. To sum it up, dry skin needs oil and dehydrated skin needs water. Make sure you know which one you’re dealing with before trying to fix it.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”