Dry, sallow skin is often one of the symptoms of being dehydrated or being in a drying environment, such as in the direct line of an air conditioner. It might seem like drinking water would directly combat these effects, adding a little plumpness back into your cheeks and smoothing over flakiness on your skin. Drinking water does not have quite this effect, although it is still a necessary part of skin health.
Dry skin can come about as a result of getting dehydrated, but as Dr. Katie Rodan, a dermatologist in San Francisco points out, the water you drink does not get deposited right into your skin cells. In an interview with “Real Simple,” Dr. Rodan explains that water has to go through several processes including filtering by your kidneys. Eventually some of it makes it to your skin cells. This doesn’t mean that water isn’t an important part of keeping your skin healthy, just that if you notice any dryness, drinking water won’t really make that disappear immediately.
A Matter of Semantics
When it eventually makes it to your facial skin, water still won’t fatten up your cheeks like actual fat would. This is actually the wrong type of language to use, as fattening something up usually implies a more permanent gain. Drinking water is going to hydrate you overall, which eventually includes keeping the skin on your cheeks and face hydrated and smooth, barring other wrinkle-prone conditions. However, water is much more temporary than fat, evaporating due to external conditions or being lost through sweat as you move around. If you don’t replenish your water stores each day, you can quickly become dehydrated, and your skin will likely suffer later on. The same can’t be said -- much to many people’s chagrin -- for fat cells.
Drinking water won’t get rid of wrinkles caused by aging, smoking or pollution. These are due the breakdown of proteins within one of the underlying layers of skin. If water were the solution to wrinkles, there would be no anti-aging industry because even if someone tried to cover up the discovery, people would figure it out rather quickly. That being said, don’t get discouraged and stop drinking enough water just because it won’t reverse the signs of aging.
If your skin is dry and really bothering you even when you’re properly hydrated, see a dermatologist. The issue could be as simple as excessively windy or cold weather, or even an overactive air conditioner or dehumidifier in your home, all of which can cause skin to lose water and dry out. However, you also want to rule out other possible causes like an allergy, as these can become worse if you keep exposing your skin to the same allergens.
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Suzanne S. Wiley is an editor and writer in Southern California. She has been editing since 1989 and began writing in 2009. Wiley received her master's degree from the University of Texas and her work appears on various websites.