Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/6/2021
Your daily water intake is crucial for the proper function of your entire body, and as you probably suspect, it's also crucial to keeping your skin hydrated.
Fighting dry skin technically is a simple process: keep the hydration in and remove the dry, dead cells from the top layer, and you're well on your way to having great skin tone and skin health.
But proper hydration is about more than your daily water consumption minimums and carting around a gallon of water.
The amount of water per day that you need to have beautiful, healthy skin isn't going to be measured universally, so any rule saying that you need a certain number of cups of water every 24 hours isn't paying attention to the science.
But you should, because paying attention is going to give you tons of benefits — maybe more than some skincare products.
You don’t need a doctor to tell you that one of the simplest and best things you can do for your body is to drink a lot of water.
There are times when it’s obvious, and you can feel your body demanding it. Other times, it may not be so obvious.
But whether the signals are clear or not, you need water for function.
How water helps you function is a bit complicated. If your body is a car, water is the oil that keeps it running smoothly, and also part of the engine, fenders and A/C.
Water plays a multi-faceted role in maintaining your bodily processes and is essential to human health and survival.
Water in your body and cells helps regulate things like your weight, temperature and tissue function. Water also transports essential nutrients and oxygen throughout your body.
Without water to transport oxygen through your bloodstream, your body’s cells and vital organs would fail.
That’s why — even though your body can last for some time without food — going just a few days without water can be deadly.
Water is also the key ingredient for all bodily fluids, and is part of your immune system, where it helps you combat illnesses.
You need water as part of your digestive system, not only to break down food, but to expel it as waste later on.
When we perspire, our skin releases water in the form of sweat, which helps regulate our body’s temperature.
Staying hydrated is important because it regularly replenishes water that has been lost through sweat or waste.
Water isn’t just important to tissue health. It improves the overall function of some of your body’s most essential organs, including your:
When your body is dehydrated even for a short time, your cognitive function starts to decline.
Studies have been shown that children who drink more water during the day are more attentive and are better able to retain information.
While it’s unclear how water aids with cognition, scientists suspect that when your body is dehydrated and in a state of stress, it draws energy away from cognitive processes, making it difficult to stay focused.
Kidneys need water to regulate the balance of fluids in your body, maintain healthy blood pressure and filter out waste from your blood.
The more water you have in your body, the more waste can be filtered out without impacting other areas of your body that need water.
Water’s importance to your blood and heart cannot be overstated.
Your volume of blood is primarily made up of water, and blood volume, pressure, and heart rate are inextricably linked.
When we exercise, for example, our heart rate goes up, our blood volume decreases as we lose water in sweat, and our blood pressure lowers, putting us in danger of fainting.
Drinking water reduces your heart rate, increases blood pressure, and helps regulate your blood and heart health.
So, what does this all have to do with your skin?
We’ve mentioned that staying hydrated is essential to keeping your organs in working order. Skin is actually the largest organ in the human body. It’s also the one that has the most contact with our external environment.
Skin acts as a barrier, protecting our internal organs from harm and holding in all that water that keeps our body at peak performance.
One way in which water is important for your skin is open wound management.
When your skin is punctured, it disrupts the connective tissues that transport water in your skin.
In order for a cut to adequately heal, the surrounding area should be kept moist and you should continue to stay hydrated to prevent further water loss.
But it’s not all life or death. Water makes up 30 percent of your skin, keeping it plump, firm and elastic.
Drinking water visibly improves the density and thickness of your skin, making it more effective in protecting your body.
However, despite what you may have read elsewhere, skin hydration alone is not enough to reduce aging.
To prevent those wrinkles from forming, you will want to supplement hydration with sunscreen and other cosmetic products to protect the skin, prevent wrinkles themselves and give your skin that dewy glow we’re all looking for.
The more water you drink, the more plump and elastic your skin becomes. When we stop drinking water and become dehydrated, our skin loses that dense, supple feeling and starts to hang loosely like an empty balloon.
Dehydrated, dry skin takes on a dull appearance, and will have a harder time protecting itself against environmental stress from the sun or air.
The two most common concerns related to skin tend to be acne and aging — let’s look at how water affects them.
All organs inevitably age throughout our lifetime, but skin has the disadvantage of being exposed to environmental stressors.
If you’ve ever forgotten to reapply sunscreen at the beach, you know the kind of damage the sun can pose to your skin.
Ultraviolet radiation and also pollution cause skin to degrade and age much more quickly.
Protecting your skin from the elements and staying hydrated are the keys to slowing this process down.
A common belief when it comes to water and skincare is that drinking water will help “flush toxins” from your pores, combat acne and improve your overall complexion.
While it’s comforting to think there could be such a simple cure-all to acne, there’s actually a lack of scientific evidence to support this claim.
Water’s value in acne treatment instead is keeping you from experiencing complications from excessive dry cells, which can collect in your pores, creating the ideal habitat for acne.
This alone won’t prevent acne, of course. Water may be one factor in improving skin’s resilience against acne, but as with aging, other topical skin care treatments are necessary to make an impact.
You may have heard that you should drink eight glasses of water each day to stay hydrated, but where is that number coming from?
Sources vary when it comes to deciding how much water you should be drinking, with recommendations ranging from two liters to 3.7 liters.
Regardless, there is one thing that scientists can agree on: drinking water only when you’re thirsty isn’t enough.
You should consider not just drinking more water, but also adding more water to your overall diet through food, juices or soups.
Skin care products suggest that they're the easiest way to address skin dryness, and from a certain perspective, they do provide immediate and long-term benefits.
But nothing is going to outdo adequate water intake for what you need to produce healthy-looking skin cells.
As much as we’d like to say that’s all you have to worry about, the truth is that getting hydrated is just a great start.
The real, underlying truth of having great, healthy skin is that the intake of water question isn't as simple as drinking more — it might be about finding the right methods and tools to increase retention and decrease those skin stressors causing you to dry out.
If you're experiencing dry skin, it may be time to talk to a healthcare professional. They may point to signs that your skin health might have a bigger issue to deal with.
Keep downing those glasses of water in the meantime, though — no matter what other treatments you end up using, you’ll be starting off on the best footing, feeling refreshed.