Second week of the new year and second resolution. Don’t worry, there won’t be 52 of these!
Hydration. There are many people who are never without a bottle of water. I am not one of them. I don’t get enough fluids, and Jeff, my signif other, often tells me I should drink more water to prevent the charley horses that I frequently get.
I always thought that drinking water helped skin stay hydrated, feel more comfortable, and look less wrinkled. Well, I’ve discovered that the benefits of drinking plenty of fluids for skin health are not so clear.
Studies have shown that drinking fluids helps brain function, keeps energy up, regulates body temperature, aids digestion, provides a moist environment that benefits ear, nose and throat, and brings nutrients to cells in the organs. So, if the skin is the body’s largest organ, doesn’t that mean that skin cells benefit from drinking fluids? Katie Rodan, MD, author of Write Your Skin a Prescription for Change, was quoted in an article in Real Simple, as saying: “Humans aren’t like plants. Our skin doesn’t perk up when we consume water.” And a 2002 study conducted by Dartmouth Medical School, among others, found no skin benefits from drinking 8 glasses of water a day. Although skin is composed of cells that are made up of water, fluids affect every other organ before arriving at skin cells. Bummer.
So, while it’s important to drink lots of water and other non-diuretic fluids such as herb tea, fruit or vegetable juice, or low fat milk, we’re not doing it primarily for our skin.
Moisturize. Skin needs moisture, but the best way to hydrate skin is to keep moisture in. Skin’s moisture level changes according to what its protective lipid (fat) barrier is exposed to, e.g. low humidity (think airplanes and deserts), harsh wind, high altitude, sun, alcohol, long baths or showers, or harsh soaps. Nutritionally, the best way to protect the skin’s moisture level is to support its lipid barrier by eating foods that are rich in essential fatty acids (EFA). Good sources of EFA include walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, and olive oil.
An easy way to keep moisture in is to moisturize…religiously. I know there are a lot of women who aren’t into makeup, and that’s OK, but at least moisturize! Not just for vanity sake, but for the health of your skin. Dr. Rodan (quoted in Real Simple, 2010) said, “A quarter size dollop of lotion will do much more for your skin than drinking a quart of water.”
There are zillions of moisturizers out there, and to date, I have written about a couple of moisturizer brands that I like. Apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp from washing.
Also consider using a serum with hyaluronic acid prior to applying moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant (i.e. maintaining moisture), and it can hold 1000 times its own weight in water! It attracts water to skin and keeps it there. Check out the article on the top hyaluronic serums by Sabah Karimi, Yahoo News, 2009: http://yhoo.it/Zhku4b
So far this year, I have made a concerted effort to up my healthy fluid consumption, but I know I’m not doing it for my skin. It’s my moisturizer that’s doing the heavy lifting (pardon the bad pun) when it comes to protecting my skin.