Can you drink your way to perfect skin? Ask Doctor Anne

Do you do New Years Resolutions?
And if you do, is drinking more water among them? I bet you have heard before that drinking enough water is the key to clear and well hydrated skin.
But is that really true? Can you really drink your way to perfect skin?


Can you drink your way to perfect skin?
How much water do you really need to drink for perfect skin?


Short answer: No. Drinking more water will make you pee more, and that’s about it.
Why that is and if there is an exception to the rule? Let´s see!



I am talking about people with normal and healthy bodily functions here, there are numerous diseases that will affect and disrupt your body homeostasis, and for people suffering from these diseases what I state below is not always true – but if you suffer from any of these conditions, drinking more is not the solution either, you need medical treatment.

Now to understand where the notion that more water is beneficial does come from, let’s take a closer look at the claimed benefits.



More water leads to better skin hydration

Compelling thought – after all the cells of our skin are, just like the rest of our bodies, predominantly made of water. This intracellular water though is highly regulated, as it is crucial for intracellular function, and the amount of it is determined by several different processes, the amount you drink not being one of them.
If you drink water, it gets into your stomach and gut, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. The more you drink, the more gets absorbed (to a certain level – you could theoretically drink your way to diarrhea).

As your blood circulates through the body, it transports nutrients, immune cells and the absorbed water to the different organs, where they can take what they need – if they have already met their needs, they will not absorb more. The rest travels on to the kidneys where the amount of blood volume as well as the concentration of different marker substances in the bloodstream determines how much water will be excreted.

This process is of course much more complex than I describe it here – believe me, the ascending and descending leg of Henle´s Loop have tormented many a student in med school, and is affected by many different things, but going into more detail would go to far.

The important message here is: More water in your blood stream will not lead to more water inside your cells – If you drink a lot, you will pee a lot.
As long as you drink enough, which is depending on the climate you live in, your height, your level of activity and the types of food you consume around 1.5 to 2 liters a day, your body and skin cells are just fine.


More water helps detoxify the body and leads to clearer skin

Another one that has a good reasoning. Your liver and kidneys are where your body “detoxes”, no need for special teas or cleanses, and in order to function properly, your kidneys do need a certain amount of fluids. This process is often called „flushing out the toxins“ in catchy headlines, which implies that the more water there is to „flush“, the more so called toxins will leave the body.
That is not true for two reasons: Again, there is no more is more when it comes to bodily functions. Yes, the more you drink the more urine will leave your body in terms of volume – but at the same time the concentration of substances in this volume will decline, so you end up getting rid of around the same amount of stuff, just more diluted.
The next thing is the term „toxins“. A lot of the things our body excretes via the kidneys are only toxins when they surpass a certain quantity, take Kalium for example. It is something we ingest when eating a balanced diet, and it is very important for us to ingest it as it is essential for many important processes like cardiac function. It is however excreted via the kidneys to a certain extent in order to keep it at the right level – too much of it, called Hyperkaliämie, can have serious side effects and lead to cardiac arrest. So is Kalium a toxin? We absolutely need it to stay alive – but at the same time injecting someone a high dose of it will kill them – you decide!
My point is: A lot of the things you flush out aren’t necessarily substances that would affect your skin unless they reach a toxic level, and then your skin would probably be the least thing you need to worry about.
Again, for getting rid of substances that could affect different parts of your body, your skin included, your kidneys need a certain amount of water to work with – anything above this amount will not have any effect rather than sending you to the bathroom more often.


More water will reduce dark under eye circles

Dark under eye circles – one of the topics I get a ton of questions on, and I promise I will film a dedicated video about them at one point.
Today I will keep it short: there are various reasons for dark under eyes, like genetics, hyperpigmentation and lifestyle factors. Of the lifestyle factors one is not drinking enough water – to the extent that you are severely dehydrated. If you are severely dehydrated, your eye will sink back into their sockets due to a loss of volume in the surrounding tissue and the shadows around them will deepen. If that is the case, yes, drinking more water will solve the problem, but you will most likely have much more serious issues to worry about than dark under eye circles.

The two cases in which drinking more water is actually beneficial
Well, severe dehydration is of course one of them, but more for your overall health than exclusively your skin.
The second and much more common case in modern times is if you drink enough in terms of volume, but only sodas or fruit juices. I am partial to drinking Coke and I enjoy a fresh pressed juice occasionally, but the majority of your fluid intake should be water. Too much sugar might affect your skin – I have a follow up video on that topic coming out soon – so switching from soda to water is something you should consider, again for many general health reasons, but your skin being one of them.


Bottom Line

Drinking enough water is mandatory, but increasing the volume above a certain threshold will not have beneficial effects on your skin. Drink to quench your thirst, drink predominantly water and adapt the amount to the climate you live in, your height and the amount and type of exercise you do throughout the day and you and your skin will be fine.

Now tell me: Has „Drink more water“ been on your list of New Year’s Resolutions?


Can you drink your way to perfect skin?
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