The question is not whether to drink, but how much to drink. Water, that is.
Not long ago, I was hired to ghostwrite a listicle about health myths: “Top Ten Health Myths,” or something like that. One of the first myths I found in researching for the article was the 8-glass water myth. Surprising.
I’d always heard you’re supposed to drink eight cups (glasses?) of water a day for optimal health and performance if you’re an athlete. But even if you’re not exercising, eight cups of water, I’d heard, flushed your toxins, hydrated your skin, and eased your digestion. It was common knowledge as much as flossing your teeth daily (both habits hard to form).
I come from a long line of camels. My mother drank her water in tea several times a day. Her mother got hers that way, and though I’m a coffee drinker (iced tea in the heat), I don’t drink more than a cup or two a day. Honestly, I forget to drink most days.
The truth is, however, that the water myth is not a myth, meaning it’s not fictional or merely a suggestion even. The number of mandatory cups a day may be the untrue part, but even that is a disputed fact or fiction debate.
In WebMD’s “10 Health Myths Debunked” (no, I didn’t ghostwrite it), number one is the 8-cup myth:
No need to count cups. Research shows people who gulp a glass of H2O when they’re thirsty get enough to stay healthy and hydrated. Water-rich foods like soup, fruit, and vegetables and drinks like juice, tea, and coffee all help you get your fill. You might need to drink more water if your urine is dark yellow, you don’t go regularly, you’re very active, or you live in a hot climate.
But a little context might be helpful. There’s organ, digestion, and survival water needs. We’re roughly 65% made of water, right? But you’re skin needs lots of hydration to glow I’d heard. That’s why you carry that water flask around wherever you go–to visit every public restroom you see and to keep your skin clear. Certainly, that’s not a myth.
If you trust Women’s Health, the answer is maybe yes, maybe no.
While hydrating for better skin does make sense—your skin is 64 percent water, after all—there’s very little research out there to back up water as a skin treatment or declare it a myth.
Not helpful. But the reason for the “very little research” part is simple. There’s no money to be made in water research. But the article does cite a couple of studies that tend to confirm a water-to-skin relation: More water leads to thicker skin density and more blood flow to the skin. But the studies are suggestive of skin improvement not conclusive.
Though, like the dermatologist interviewed for the Women’s Health story surmises, if your skin looks better, who cares about the research. And that’s my take too.
Board Certified dermatologist, Rachel Nazarian, M.D., says that anecdotal evidence from her practice confirms that when patients drink less water, their skin is more prone to breakouts–which makes sense given that diet affects oil and sebum production in the skin.
Ultimately, she says, you need a steady flow of water–eight to ten 8 oz cups spread throughout the day (what?!!)–to maintain healthier looking skin, especially coupled with moisturizing the skin on the outside too.
“Moisturizing your skin both internally and externally is a critical combination for healthy, beautiful skin.”
Yes. Studies or no studies, I’m finding that the extra topical hydration I’m applying with this new regimen (foremost focus to these products is hydration) makes my skin feel smoother, softer, and healthier. My skin was dry, and now it’s not. If for the feeling alone (I touch my face now and utter a silent ahhhh at its silkiness), I would continue using the products.
But I want more. I’m dreaming big.
Now the water intake part…well, that’s why I asked for–and received from my dear daughters–a smart watch, which nags me about drinking water.
I think I’m up to two cups a day aside from my two cups of coffee. Not enough, I know. But time and persistence, that’s all it takes.