Drinking Water Won’t Hydrate Your Skin—But These Three Things Will

drinking water hydrates the skin

You’ve heard about the importance of drinking water to hydrate the skin yet no matter how much you drink, your skin still feels tight and dry. Sound familiar? The reason why this occurs is that research shows drinking water to be the least efficient way to hydrate the skin.

In this post, I’ll clear up this common myth and share three things you can do that will give your skin the hydration it needs to feel moist and supple.

Why drinking water won’t hydrate your skin.

First, let’s dispell the myth. Did you know that when you drink water, it doesn’t go directly to the skin? Water will run through the intestines, get absorbed into your bloodstream, and then get filtered out by the kidneys. At this point, it will hydrate the cells inside the body but to expect it to reach the outside layers of the skin (known as the epidermis), is just not possible.

While you still want to drink 8-12 glasses of water a day since our bodies need water to live, it’s time to let this myth go. Instead, let’s focus on hydrating the skin with proven ways.  Here’s how.

1. Leave a hydrating toner damp on the skin before applying a serum or moisturizer.

Many people don’t use toners thinking they don’t provide many benefits to the skin. I can assure you, they do. If your goal is to hydrate the skin, an alcohol-free toner should be your go-to product. After cleansing, wipe a hydrating toner over the skin and leave it damp. When immediately followed with a serum or moisturizer for your skin type, the water and humectant properties of the toner will saturate the skin cells with much-needed hydration. The skin is left feeling moist and dewy—immediately.

For the purposes of hydration, your toner should NOT contain:

These types of toners give a different result, which is NOT about hydration.

Recommended hydrating toner: Moisture Infusion Toner

2. Slip a serum underneath your moisturizer.

To take your hydration to another level, I highly suggest you consider adding a serum for your skin type underneath your moisturizer. While it’s an added step, it will take all of 10 seconds to apply it to your face but can dramatically improve the hydration levels in your skin.

Hydrating Toners

Recommended hydrating skin serums: Skin Drink ConcentrateSkin Correcting Serum or Firm + Repair Overnight Serum.

3. Skip the clay mask and treat your skin to a gel-based one.

All masks give an added boost of results for your skin but particularly for the purpose of delivering water-based hydration to the skin, a gel mask can dramatically replenish thirsty cells. They will often use ingredients found in serums that I listed above. Since gels naturally have a lower temperature, they feel very cooling on the skin. This is especially helpful for soothing all types of redness—especially during the summer. You can use a gel mask as often as every night after cleansing and before you proceed with your hydrating toner, serum, and moisturizer.

Put gel masks in the refrigerator

Recommended gel masks: Bio Calm Repair Masque (for all types of redness and sensitivity) and Rapid Response Detox Masque (for acne-prone skin prone to sensitivity and clogged pores)

There is one skin benefit that drinking water DOES give.

Yes. There is one noticeable difference in the skin that I personally experience that I know is directly related to drinking water. The reduction of under-eye puffiness. Whenever I eat high sodium foods (particularly at night), it will cause me to retain excess fluids around the eyes. For example, the sodium from eating Chinese food is guaranteed to make my eyes puffy in the morning. Knowing this, I make sure to double up on my water to help manage water retention in my face and body—and it DOES help.

Hydrating toner for sensitive skin

In summary…

Drinking water does not hydrate the skin in the way you’ve always been lead to believe. Skin cells are like fish and need water to live and applying topical hydration with skincare products will always be the most effective way to plump up thirsty skin cells. The result will be dewy, fresh and healthy-looking skin. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about skin so here’s 35 common myths that you might be falling for.

One final thing to share. It’s important to know that there is a big difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin and you really need to know what it is. Learn more about dry vs. dehydrated skin.

To get the best hydrating products recommended for your unique type of skin, take this Skin Type Quiz.

Renée Rouleau

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.”