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Is H2O *really* a skin-saving hero? One dermatologist says the answer isn’t crystal clear


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Photo: Getty Images/Westend61

Many believe water is to wellness what avocados are to toast: Being coupled with the former drastically improves the latter. And considering that without your daily servings of H2O, brain health, workouts, and all of your other favorite things (including survival in general) are an impossibility, it reasons to say wellness needs water just like that slice of sourdough needs that creamy green smash. But when it comes to clear liquid’s power over your skin when you drink it, the, er, waters are a bit murky—at least according to one expert.

“Adequate hydration is crucial for all aspects of health—skin health included,” says New York City dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, “That said, oral ingestion of water doesn’t correlate with skin hydration. That is more a factor of sebaceous gland density and skin-barrier function.” In other words, you can sip out of your S’well 24/7 and still have dry skin, and you can also slack on your daily 64 ounces and still have skin that looks relatively moisturized.

Here’s where things get tricky though, because H2O does help your complexion in an indirect way by allowing the entire body to effectively carry out the functions that flush toxins and keep fluids moving through your capillaries. “Adequate hydration helps the skin to optimize circulation to the skin and toxin removal from the skin, but only in extreme cases does it correlate with skin hydration levels,” Dr. Engelman elaborates.

Staying scrupulous with your hydration also keeps inflammation at bay, which is a huge deal, since the condition can spark a host of other unwanted topical issues. “Increased inflammation in the body disrupts the body’s ability to regulate the immune system and can therefore lead to flares of skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis,” the expert says.

Winning the gold medal in hydration won’t necessarily mean that the skin will appear hydrated. But, the H2O will give your bod its greatest chance at fighting other factors that cause skin woes.

The takeaway? Winning the gold medal in hydration doesn’t necessarily mean that the body’s largest organ (AKA, the skin) will appear hydrated. But, the H2O will give your bod its greatest chance at fighting other factors that cause skin woes. If you’re a total overachiever though, you can add a few extra ingredients to your nutrient rotation to make sure you’re getting the most out of your water. Below, Dr. Engelman shares the best things in your fridge for doing just that.

1. Snack on water-dense fruits like watermelon, cucumbers, and strawberries

Water-dense fruits are a great way to hydrate and protect your skin,” Dr. Engelman says. Plus, since produce like cantaloupe and avocado pack in vitamins as well as water, your fruit salad is basically nutrition for your skin. “Most fruits contain high levels of vitamins A and C and powerful antioxidants that replenish nutrients in skin, promote collagen production, and help keep your skin supple and firm.”

2. Top off your water bottle with collagen-boosting ingredients, like lemons

Enzymes in lemons have been found to boost collagen levels, so why not add a squeeze to plain old water? Other vitamin C-rich options like oranges will too. So, if you’re planning to host a brunch party, you can add a splashy pop of colorful fruit to your pitcher for a pretty piece of table decor that doubles as a skin savior.

To keep things on the simple side, boost your glass with a standard collagen powder. “Verisol collagen powder is great to add to water as well to help stimulate dermal collagen production. It’s tasteless and odorless, and one scoop a day does the trick,” she says.

Sprinkling salt in your water could also help fight inflammation, and these are the inflammatory foods the no one talks about.

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