Ask a Scientist: Does Drinking Water Really Help My Skin?

The Scientist:  Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, M.D., associate clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine and director of the Dermatology & Laser Surgery Center of New York

The Answer: Getting enough water is certainly an important part of having good skin, but it’s not a panacea.

Skin is the body’s largest organ, and like every other organ it needs water to function. Of course, that’s not all it needs, and the water needs to be balanced with salts. Too little water increases the concentration of salt in the system, pulling moisture out of cells and dehydrating the skin. The sapped cells shrivel up, leaving skin that lacks tone.

This can result in “tenting,” which is the wrinkling of skin when you pull on it. (Properly hydrated skin will snap back into place when you let go.) On the other side of the coin, too much water also upsets the osmolarity (salt concentration), leading to bloating and swelling, and skin that appears puffy and translucent.

The fact is, you can drink water all day long, but there is a maximum amount that each cell can absorb. Beyond that, channels in the cell membrane will open, letting the excess leak out.

READ MORE: The Difference Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin

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