We’ve heard it all before. “Get your eight glasses of water each day.” “It’s important to stay hydrated.” “Have a drink of water and you’ll feel better.” Seriously, it may sound like harping and nagging, but everyone who’s ever told you to chug a nice, cool glass of refreshing H2O has been right. Staying well hydrated has all sort of benefits, for your body in general, but specifically for your skin.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ and, like all of the other organs that keep you up and running, it’s made of cells and those cells are made primarily of water. To make sure they’re working to keep you healthy and looking good, you’ve got to replenish whatever water you’re losing every day. But does the eight glasses rule still stand? And what exactly does all of that water mean for your skin?

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How Much Water Should You Be Drinking Each Day?

Convention tells us to slam down eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day to stay hydrated, but science doesn’t necessarily back that up. A review published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology tried to pinpoint the origin and efficacy of the old “8 x 8” rule. Researchers looked through the literature, scoured scientific evidence and spoke to nutritionists to determine whether or not the age old adage held any validity.

What they found was a lack of evidence supporting the 8 x 8 model. The review referred to published studies asserting that mildly alcoholic and caffeinated beverages do contribute to a person’s daily water intake, rather than detract from it as previously believed. The 8 x 8 model only accounted for healthy people living a sedentary lifestyle in a temperate climate, as well. Athletes and those with strenuous occupations who are sweating out all of that good hydration need to replenish more often and in greater quantities. People with specific health conditions may have other water intake requirements.

Rather than the eight eight-ounce glasses, new research published in Nutrition Reviews suggests that healthy adult men should consume 3.7 liters (15+ cups) of water per day and healthy adult women need about 2.7 liters (11+ cups) daily. The totals include the water content of foods consumed, as well. You can’t always trust your thirst to guide you, either. Because drinking – water or anything else – is often tied to social cues, our physical thirst response doesn’t always trigger optimal hydration. It’s best to keep track of your hydration mentally. Stash a (large) bottle of water on hand and keep on chugging.

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What Can Being Well Hydrated Do For Your Body?

Being well hydrated doesn’t just affect your skin. One study in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine said that “daily adequate water intake… is arguably the most important nutrient requirement for humans.” Proper hydration can mitigate the risks for colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, and nephrolithiasis in people with a history of kidney stones. Timing water intake around meals has been linked to food consumption and the regulation of body weight in obese individuals.

An introduction to hydration and health promotion in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition backed up the importance of hydration, saying that as “the largest single constituent of the human body, water is essential for cellular homeostasis and life.” Poor hydration can disrupt this delicate homeostasis, upon which hinges biochemical reactions, heat absorption, vascular volume, nutrient supply to tissues and much more.

How Does That Water Help Your Skin?

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Being well-hydrated is absolutely essential for the proper function of human skin. And, logically, the more optimally hydrated your skin is, the better it will function. A lot of skincare routines focus on hydration from external sources, like lotions, creams and serums, but plumping those skin cells is often an inside job, which means that drinking enough water is crucial.

The stratum corneum is the skin’s outer layer, and it’s particularly sensitive to fluctuations in hydration. According to a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, the water content of the stratum corneum is crucial for skin desquamation. And impaired desquamation can lead to flakey, dull and dry, skin.

Dry skin is more prone to showing deeper wrinkles and furrows as well. The skin of the elderly, which is also less elastic than younger skin, can often show those wrinkles as more defined because it’s typically less hydrated than younger skin.

Even the application of tap water to the skin can impact skin hydration, especially in women. According to a journal article in Acta Dermato-venereologica, prior to hydration, the stratum corneum of the skin was rigid, but by hydrating the skin with tap water, the horny layer softened, allowing for a “rapid extensibility gain proportional to the reduced thickness of the dermis.”

 

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Keeping yourself well hydrated and logging those 3.7 or 2.7 liters a day can help keep your body in fighting shape. Without it, our cells can’t function properly. Included in that are skin cells that keep wrinkles, deep furrows and dry skin at bay. So drink up and enjoy a healthy skin and body.