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The Great Hydration Debate


There’s a cliché in the skincare industry and it goes a little something like this: Eight glasses of water a day is the key to glowing skin. Is it true? Well, that depends on who you ask.

The New York Times recently published an article that refutes the eight-glasses-a-day rule, claiming that your body will signal to you when it’s thirsty — and that’s the only time you truly need to drink water. However, many skincare enthusiasts beg to differ. Experts in the industry claim that water is not only necessary for overall health; it’s also the key to reversing the aging process of skin cells and smoothing out digestive issues, both of which result in clear, glowing, young-looking skin.

“I believe the most important thing that we can do is become hydrated,” Dr. Howard Murad, a board certified dermatologist and the founder of Murad Skincare, recently told a crowd of industry professionals at a skincare event hosted by Lunya in Los Angeles.

“It sounds easy, but when we look at our cells as they age, they become thinner and drier.”

According to the dermatologist, your body begin as 75 percent water (as babies) and that number gradually drops as you age (the average adult is 60 percent water). This loss of water over time is the root cause of dry skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Think of it in terms of fruit. “Apples are at least 80 percent water,” Dr. Murad said. “If you leave it outside it gets wrinkles and becomes drier – that’s what happens to us as we age – we get wrinkles and become drier.”

There are many ways to boost your internal hydration levels and, of course, drinking eight glasses of water a day is one of them. But Dr. Murad also wants you to eat your water. “Eating your water is really important,” he said, naming high-water content fruits and vegetables like apples and celery as the best foods to consume. “Generally, the foods that are healthy are more hydrating.”

Interestingly, exercise is also key for hydration. “You’re building muscle,” he explained, “and muscle is 70 percent water.” Fat, in contrast, is only 10 percent water — so it stands to reason that the higher your fat content, the less hydrated you are. If you focus on building muscle, though, you’ll naturally add water to your body.

Staying hydrated has one more benefit to the skin: When you’re well-hydrated, it’s easier for your body to eliminate toxins (yes, I’m talking about going to the bathroom). Regular, healthy bowel movements — made easier by a high water intake — chauffeur toxic material out of the body, so it won’t make itself known on your face.

Finally, there’s something to be said for moisture-boosting skincare. “Using products on your skin that encourage hydration [is important],” Dr. Murad said. Make sure to incorporate a hydrating serum (one that features hyaluronic acid is great), a great moisturizer, and a nourishing face oil into your daily routine. And don’t forget the SPF! “If you’re out in the sun and you get sunburn, [that’s] drying you out,” Dr. Murad explained.

The moral of the story? Drink your water, eat your water, and exercise — your skin will thank you. Here’s to moisturizing from the inside out. Cheers!

Photographer Credit: Nicole Garner 

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