We’ve heard it a million times - hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Hydration keeps our skin looking and feeling fresh and healthy. Providing your skin with true hydration doesn’t just mean slapping on moisturisers and serums, and calling it a day though. It comes from within. Here, we’re going to take a closer look at how to hydrate skin from the inside!
Before we jump into how to hydrate skin from the inside, let’s take a brief look at why hydration is so important in the first place?
Hydration is integral for maintaining balanced skin and managing acne. Dehydrated skin will produce more oil in a bid to rehydrate. However, this excess oil can often trigger acne breakouts, as it can clog the pores. Equally, hydration is key for ageing skin. When the skin is dehydrated, the signs of ageing are often exaggerated, making fine lines and wrinkles appear more prominent.
Keeping the skin hydrated is also a priority for those of us who suffer from sensitive skin or inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis. Inflammatory skin conditions can flare up when the skin becomes dehydrated, often leading to flaky, dry skin. Obviously, something we want to avoid!
Did you know that the skin is the largest organ in the human body? It’s the first and most important barrier that protects us against germs and environmental factors that could potentially harm us. When you think about it that way, it makes sense that there’s so much importance placed on caring for your skin.
What is the moisture barrier?
Without getting too technical, the skin is made up of layers of skin cells, protective tissues, glands, fats, and connective tissues. The outermost layer is known as the skin barrier, and to keep it working efficiently, the body produces a natural moisturising factor (NMF). Also known as our acid mantle or moisture barrier, this layer of protection is made up of natural oils, like sebum, that help to keep the skin healthy.
The acid mantle not only helps to prevent moisture loss, but also helps the skin to heal and prevent infection. This layer is slightly acidic, which helps to discourage the growth of harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. While this sounds a bit gross, it’s integral to keeping us healthy!
The acid mantle also helps our skin heal. The acidity of the skin facilitates certain biological interactions that are necessary for the healing process. This is particularly important if you suffer from acne-prone skin or inflammatory skin conditions, as the skin needs to heal after breakouts or flare-ups.
A hydrating skincare routine is vital to maintaining the natural moisture barrier, but if the barrier is already damaged, you might need more than skincare to fix it. That’s why it’s important to learn how to hydrate skin from the inside out, as well as to perfect your skincare routine.
Have you heard the saying “the devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder”? Well, your skin works even harder than Kris Jenner. Your skin is constantly working to protect you against a barrage of potentially harmful factors. Some of the main culprits that can damage the skin barrier are:
- Alkaline soaps or detergents: they can upset the pH level of your naturally acidic skin.
- Exposure to harsh chemicals: you should always wear gloves when cleaning, as they can affect the pH of your skin too.
- Over-exfoliating: ditch the physical exfoliators and replace them with the occasional use of chemical exfoliators.
- Extremely cold, humid, or dry weather (this includes excessive exposure to central heating in the winter months).
- Too much sun exposure and environmental pollutions.
How do I know my skin barrier is damaged?
There are a couple of telltale signs that make it easy to determine whether your skin barrier is damaged. It’s very likely if you are experiencing some of the following:
- Persistently dry, flaky skin
- Acne breakouts
- Rough or discoloured patches
- Overly sensitive or inflamed skin
- Bacterial, viral, fungal infections
How to hydrate skin from the inside
So now we understand the importance of the skin barrier, let’s talk about how to hydrate skin from the inside.
This one might sound obvious, but the vast majority of us are not drinking enough water. If you’re thinking to yourself, “that’s me”, take this opportunity to go and refill your water bottle. Yes, right now!
Did you know that your skin is made up of about 30% water? Water is needed to keep the skin looking and feeling plump and hydrated. But it’s not just about looks, water is needed to maintain the skin's elasticity. This means that the skin is less likely to crack or become irritated.
As we mentioned earlier, water is integral for managing acne. When the skin is dehydrated, it amps up the sebum production. This excess oil often clogs the pores and can lead to acne breakouts. It’s also important to prevent flare-ups for inflammatory skin conditions.
We should all be drinking about 2 litres of water every single day. It sounds like a lot of water, and it can be a bit of a chore to remember. But it’s a habit that you really need to get into if you want to take proper care of your skin barrier.
If you hit the gym regularly, you’ll also need to up your water intake. When we sweat, whether it’s at the side of the pool or at the gym, the body loses water. Therefore, we need to be drinking plenty of water to replace it, especially during the summer months.
Up your vitamin D but don’t forget your SPF!
Vitamin D is a water-soluble vitamin that has many uses in the body. One of these uses is triggering the formation of the acid mantle. This could be why your skin is a little more oily during the summer months! Your skin is topping up the skin barrier to protect it from sun exposure.
Whilst spending time in the sun is a great way of topping up your vitamin D levels, you should always wear sunscreen to make sure you keep your skin protected from potentially harmful UV rays. It’s not always possible to get out for a sunbathing session (thanks to long winter months and Irish weather), so don’t be afraid to top up using vitamin D supplements. Your doctor can recommend the best ones for you!
Get those fatty acids
The skin naturally contains acids like omega 3, as it helps the skin to retain moisture, therefore helping to maintain the natural skin barrier. Luckily, topping up your omega levels can be easy, and tasty! That’s why this is one of our favourite ways how to hydrate skin from the inside.
Oily fish like tuna and salmon are packed with omega 3 goodness. However, if you’re living your best vegan life, you can eat flaxseed, hempseeds, walnuts, kidney beans, and avocado. As if we needed another excuse to treat ourselves to an avo toast brunch?
These natural acids help to seal the skin to prevent moisture loss, helping to balance oil production, which in turn help to manage acne breakouts, inflammatory skin condition flare-ups, and minimise the signs of ageing. What’s not to love?
Snacking on water-rich fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to boost your water intake, whilst enjoying a healthy snack. If you eat foods rich in vitamins, your skin will also appreciate it!
Vitamin A can help to maintain skin elasticity, so munching on carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes can help to keep your skin barrier healthy. Citrus fruits are rich in both vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant) and water, so they’re a great fruit to include in your morning smoothie. Vitamin E is also great for the skin, and it's found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and oily fish.
Protein is super important in healing and repairing skin cells and tissues, and that includes your skin, along with your hair and nails. This means that making sure that you’re getting enough protein can help maintain a healthy skin barrier. Lentils, chickpeas, tofu, beans, lean meats, dairy, and eggs are all great sources of protein.
How to hydrate skin from the inside: Things to avoid
The above are all wonderful ways how to hydrate skin from the inside, but there are some other things that you can do to avoid dehydrating the skin too.
Diuretics remove water from the body by making us produce more urine. This means that you lose more water than you normally would, making dehydration more likely. Alcohol is a major diuretic, and that’s why you’ll wake up dehydrated after a night out on the town.
If you’re planning on going for post-work cocktails, make sure you boost your water intake to prevent dehydration. Have a few glasses of water between your cocktails, and make sure you bring a pint of water to bed with you, when you get home. Your skin and your head will thank you!
Caffeine is also considered a diuretic, although it’s not as powerful as alcohol. This means that you probably won’t notice any significant effects if you’re only drinking one or two iced coffees a day. However, if you’re more of a 4-7 cup per day person, you may be consuming more caffeine than you realise. Caffeine is also found in fizzy drinks, tea, and energy drinks.
The bottom line is "everything in moderation". Except for water, because you, like the vast majority of us, probably aren’t getting enough! It’s a bit of a chore to keep up the water intake, but it’s a habit that really pays off in the long run.
To sum things up
When considering how to hydrate your skin from the inside, the most important thing is to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Water is necessary for skin elasticity, which helps to prevent cracks and tears in the skin. This helps the skin to protect us effectively, and helps to prevent infection.
Hydrating helps the body to keep your skin barrier healthy by producing natural oils that protect the skin. This layer of natural oils helps the skin to protect us from potentially harmful germs and environmental factors.
Dehydrated skin often amps up oil production in a bid to rehydrate, which often leads to acne breakouts. Keeping the skin hydrated is also important to prevent flare-ups of inflammatory skin conditions, which are often triggered when the skin becomes dry.
There are ample ways how to hydrate skin, our favourite way is opting for water-rich foods, that are packed with vitamins. These foods that are naturally rich in fatty acids and vitamins that our skin loves. We also recommend avoiding diuretics like alcohol where possible. How do you hydrate your skin from the inside?
Interested in reading more about hydrating and moisturising the skin? Check out our "Moisturising vs Hydrating" blog here!