Water Is the Oldest-Known Beauty Tool—Here’s Why It’s Also the Best
"Our bodies are roughly 60 percent water. From drinking it to locking in moisture after a bath, you almost can’t get enough,” enthuses dermatologist Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, medical director of New York’s Mudgil Dermatology. “Water is critical not only for adequately moisturizing skin, but also for maintaining optimal cellular functioning.” From hydrotherapy to hydrosols, all you need for prime-time proof that beauty's most indelible ingredient can work for you is, of course, to just add water.
Keep scrolling for an expert-guided crash course in making the most of water in your beauty regimen.
Just add water: to facials and infusions
The most localized form of hydrotherapy is arguably the HydraFacial, which has taken off as a no downtime, no risk procedure that deep cleans and “wakes up” the complexion. “The procedure blasts the skin with vitamin-rich water using a special wand which simultaneously sucks off dead skin cells and the contents of clogged pores using its proprietary vortex technology,” Dr. Mudgil explains. Shares Graceanne Svendsen, facialist at Shafer Plastic Surgery in New York City: “My patients love how clean their skin looks and feels as well as the vibrant appearance, and long-term benefits include less dead skin, more refined pores and tightening.”
Spas like Chicago’s Waldorf Astoria are offering another hydrating alternative in the form of Dermalinfusion, where clients can incorporate brightening, clarifying, and hydrating serums as well as six different levels of customized abrasion. The three-step system exfoliates with a diamond tip, extracts with patented closed-loop vacuum pressure, and infuses skin with the chosen serum for gentle resurfacing that can even help diminish acne scars with continued treatments. The most strangely satisfyingly part? When your aesthetician lets you marvel at the glass jar of liquid displaying every floating particle that previously resided in your pores.
Just add water: to supplements
While Moon Juice’s adaptogenic tonics and superfood powders from brands like Amazing Grass and Addictive Wellness continue to be insider-sanctioned tricks to slipping skin-friendly nutrients into a single serving of hydration, there’s one branch of the stir-in market that’s undeniably booming: “Collagen water is the hot new supplement,” notes Dr. Mudgil of the powder that has celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Busy Philipps singing its praises. “Collagen comprises about 70 percent of the protein found in skin and gives skin and hair its strength. While he admits that its accolades are still “somewhat controversial,” studies on its benefits and absorption continue to chase concrete proof and in the meantime the “downsides are minimal, at worst.”
Vital Proteins, one of the first brands to make collagen part of your daily H2O intake, continues to recalibrate its blends to appeal to every corner of the market from supermodels to sports stars. “Obviously water is a natural hydrator, but we saw an opportunity to kick it up a notch by creating a product with collagen and hyaluronic acid that helps moisturize the skin from the inside out," explains founder Kurt Seidensticker. “The studies are very promising, showing oral collagen ingestion increases skin hydration and skin elasticity, improves facial moisture and wrinkles, and also improves collagen density in the skin as compared to placebo,” shares Alejandra Carrasco, MD, founder of Nourish Medicine in Austin, TX.
Just add water: to face masks
Moisture bomb masks that maximize the powers of hyaluronic acid to lock water into skin, are no-brainer thirst-quenchers for skin, so what’s the appeal of the multistep mix-it-yourself powdered options that require a dose of H2O? “Water-activated, powdered clay masks are one of the most ancient forms of natural beauty care,” shares Cortney Herrera, founder and distiller of Wildcare’s Cali-based line of sustainable skincare. “Since the ingredients haven’t been activated yet by a liquid, they require no preservatives to stay fresh as a pre-mixed mask would, making them a fresher, more shelf stable choice,” she explains.
Many versions are even safe enough to eat, like Wildcare’s sunburn-soothing Soft Focus pearl and coconut milk powder, or the Blue Clay Spot Treatment option from Herbivore Botanicals packed with food-grade, organic ingredients like rose geranium oil. And for superfine exfoliation, One Love Organics offers up its water-activated Brand New Day Microderma Scrub + Mask that combines sweet pea flour and pineapple enzymes for an amino-acid packed DIY treatment.
Just add water: to makeup
“I use water as a makeup artist all the time!” exclaims Omayma Ramzy, the Brit-born, LA-based makeup master trusted with perfecting the complexions of the highly lensed faces of actresses Georgie Flores and Marisol Nichols. The magic of H2O in makeup lies in its ability to at once amp up pigments and also sheer them down. For what it's worth, much of this lies in the technique, wherein pressing pigments that have been doused with water into skin makes them more visible, where dragging wetted ingredients across skin makes them more sheer.
The magic of H2O in makeup lies in its ability to at once amp up pigments and also sheer them down.
On eyes, Ramzy spritzes RMS’s chicly packaged Swift squares with the Australian waters of Equal Beauty’s Super Mist, pressing the powdery shadows onto lids for an amplified effect (with dry shadow, a similar effect would take loads of layering and crease protection). The same water, however, also helps her to sheer out foundations, allowing them to spread more evenly as if a thin veil covers skin, and preventing them from caking and creasing. For a one-step option on the complexion front, the cushion compact disperses a watery formula minus the need to DIY. Many of them such as the La Prairie Skin Caviar foundation are already infused with special waters (this one, for instance, contains the brand's potent caviar aqua).
Just add water: to biohack your body
The time-honored technique of alternating water temperatures to boost circulation and kickstart detoxification isn’t new, but it is experiencing a modern revival at spas like Travaasa Hana in Maui, where guests are given written guidelines for how long to luxuriate in their rock-lined saunas and flower-filled ice baths to maximize the body’s natural healing process. And Kohler, the almost 150-year-old water fixture brand, with its namesake Kohler Waters Sps has a Healing Waters treatment in which guests lay under a horizontal arm of six shower heads that vary sequences of cascading warm water synchronously with a chilled exfoliating scrub being massaged into skin.
“The skin is the body’s largest organ, and baths do have a positive effect on the body, mind, and skin,” notes NYC-based dermatologist Michele Green, MD.
For all of the glitz and glamour of a spa, it’s tough to beat the simplicity of at-home hydrotherapy. “The skin is the body’s largest organ, and baths do have a positive effect on the body, mind, and skin,” notes RealSelf contributor and NYC-based dermatologist Michele Green, MD. “A bath can soothe sore muscles, boost circulation, and even improve breathing in addition to hydrating and cleansing.” And for true tub time enthusiasts, the mental relaxation is as important as the physical. “In Taoism, which Traditional Chinese Medicine comes from, it’s strongly believed that we can use nature around us to support us,” says Mona Dan, the founder of Vie Healing Acupuncture in Beverly Hills who recently launched a self-care line of herb-infused bath salts and artisanal soaps. In other words, the nearest way to connect body and mind is probably as close as your very own tub.
BTW: Here are 11 ways that wellness pros supercharge their water and if you like your water bubbly, here are the 5 top-rated seltzers according to W+G editors.
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