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Beautiful Skin from Within: Hydration from the Inside Out

Focus on hydration from the inside out for glowing, beautiful skin!

Youthful skin retains its’ elasticity, resilience, and firmness from its’ high water content. Aging skin can appear more youthful when adequately hydrated.

Read on to learn more about this “Beauty from within” approach. Check out more content on the exciting field of Skin & Beauty Nutrition here.

Dehydrated Skin vs. Dry Skin

Woman with Dry Skin

Dehydrated skin is not the same as dry skin. Dry skin is a condition where your skin lacks oils to hold in moisture. The lack of moisture causes your skin to appear dry and cracked.

On the other hand, dehydrated skin lacks moisture on the inside. Dehydration is defined as a condition that occurs when the body loses too much water and other fluids that it needs to work normally.

Causes of dehydration include not drinking enough water, excessive sweating, illness, and increased urination.

Symptoms of Dehydrated Skin

  • Dull appearance
  • Dark circles or bags under the eyes
  • Sunken appearance to the eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Fine lines on the skin
Woman with dull skin looking sad in a mirror; hydration from the inside out

Skin Pinch Test for Dehydration

You can tell if your skin is dehydrated by performing a simple Skin Pinch Test.

This simple test measures the skin’s turgor, the skin’s elasticity. It is the ability of the skin to change shape and return to normal.

Check out the video below to test your skin for dehydration.

Characteristics of Hydrated Skin

Hydration from the inside out - woman looking in mirror at her skin
Youthful skin retains its’ elasticity, resilience, & firmness from its’ high water content.
  • Skin appears plump
  • Texture of the skin is smooth and soft
  • Skin glows or appears radiant
  • Decreased appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improved elasticity; skin appears tighter/less saggy

Will Moisturizers & Lotions Hydrate Skin?

As discussed above, dry skin is different than dehydrated skin. Dry skin is a condition of the epidermis, the outermost layer of your skin.

While dehydrated skin impacts the dermis of the skin, the middle layer of the skin.

Man putting moisturizer on face

Many individuals believe they have dry skin, while they actually have dehydrated skin.

The epidermis of the skin is waterproof, meaning that it cannot soak up water. Therefore, moisturizers and lotions are not going to hydrate your skin.

Moisturizers and lotions supply a little bit of water to the skin and contain a greasy substance that holds it in. Therefore, these products help with dry skin, but can’t hydrate the skin. 

The dermis of the skin is where the “magic” happens. Focusing on skin hydration from the inside out is best for beautiful, glowing skin!

Diagram of the skin anatomy - Dermis, epidermis
Diagram of the Skin

Nutrition & Hydration from the Inside Out

A 2021 review of skin health revealed the promotion of healthy dietary habits can benefit the appearance of the skin, and delay aging processes.

The condition of the skin depends on our overall state of health. Many other factors impact our skin such as sleep, stress, and sun damage.

Drink adequate fluids and eat a diet rich in hydrating foods to improve your skin!

Skin-Hydrating Foods

  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers

Fruits and Vegetables-Hydration from the inside out
Fruits & Vegetables contain a large amount of water

Below is a table from The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference that lists the water content of specific foods.

As you can see, fruits and vegetables are highest in water content, along with fat-free milk.

PercentageFood Item
100%Water
90–99%Fat-free milk, cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach, pickles, squash (cooked)
80–89%Fruit juice, yogurt, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, broccoli (cooked), pears, pineapple
70–79%Bananas, avocados, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, potato (baked), corn (cooked), shrimp
60–69%Pasta, legumes, salmon, ice cream, chicken breast
50–59%Ground beef, hot dogs, feta cheese, tenderloin steak (cooked)
40–49%Pizza
30–39%Cheddar cheese, bagels, bread
20–29%Pepperoni sausage, cake, biscuits
10–19%Butter, margarine, raisins
1–9%Walnuts, peanuts (dry roasted), chocolate chip cookies, crackers, cereals, pretzels, taco shells, peanut butter
0%Oils, sugars

Source: The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21 provided in Altman.127

Skin-Dehydrating Foods

The following foods may make our skin appear dull. In addition, eye bags and fine lines may be more prominent.

  1. Added salt
  2. Processed foods that are high in sodium (fast food, salty snack, packaged meals)
  3. Alcohol
  4. Drinks with high levels of caffeine (coffee, energy drinks)

Spoonful of Salt
High Sodium Foods can dehydrate the skin

Best Drinks to Hydrate from the Inside Out

  • Water
  • Fruit-infused waters
  • Fat free milk
  • Coconut water
  • Herbal teas
  • Electrolyte-infused waters
  • Cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices

Fruit Infused Waters-hydration from the inside out
Fruit-Infused Waters

Tips to Support Hydration from the Inside Out

  1. Drink adequate fluids
  2. Eat fruits and vegetables
  3. Limit or avoid alcohol
  4. Hydrate during and after workouts
  5. Limit or avoid caffeine
  6. Limit added salt and processed foods

A man and woman drinking from water bottles

Takeaways

Dehydrated skin lacks moisture on the inside resulting in a dull appearance, along with more prominent dark circles and fine lines.

Moisturizers and lotions help with dry skin, however they cannot hydrate the skin.

Youthful skin retains its’ elasticity, resilience, and firmness from its’ high water content. Aging skin can appear more youthful when adequately hydrated.

Healthy dietary habits can improve the appearance of the skin, and delay aging.

Focus on including hydrating food and drinks for beautiful, glowing skin!

Learn more about Nutrition and Skin in this previous Age-Defying Dietitian’s blog post “Beauty Nutrition: New Approaches to Skin Care & Skin Health”.

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