Will drinking water clear skin?

Many people wonder if drinking more water can improve skin health and lead to clearer skin. While staying hydrated is important for overall health, research shows that simply drinking more water may not dramatically clear up skin issues like acne. There are many factors that contribute to skin health beyond just hydration levels. However, drinking enough water is still beneficial and can support skin cell function and nutrient delivery when paired with other healthy skin habits.

How Does Drinking Water Affect Skin?

Here are some of the ways staying hydrated may benefit the skin:

Supports Skin Cell Function

Skin cells require adequate water to carry out basic functions like growing, repairing, and generating new skin cells. When the body is dehydrated, skin cells cannot properly complete these regenerative processes that are essential for healthy looking skin.

Delivers Nutrients

Drinking sufficient water helps blood effectively circulate through the body and deliver nutrients to the skin. Well hydrated skin shows less tendencies for issues like flaking, itching, and redness which can result from inadequate nutrient supply.

Protects Skin Barrier

The outer layer of skin contains a mixture of water and oils that help protect underlying skin from damage and dryness. When the body lacks water, this barrier can become compromised leading to transdermal water loss. Replenishing fluids can help combat this issue.

Reduces Toxin Buildup

Water supports the kidneys and liver to effectively filter out toxins from the body. Toxins can contribute to inflammatory skin conditions like eczema when allowed to build up. Drinking adequate water helps flush out toxins through sweat, urine, and feces.

Moisturizes Skin Cells

Hydrated skin inherently contains more moisture. This helps skin maintain elasticity, softness, and a youthful plump appearance. Dehydrated skin often appears dull, flaky, wrinkled, or saggy partially due to inadequate moisture within skin cells.

What Does Research Say About Drinking Water and Skin Health?

Despite the theoretical benefits of drinking more water for skin, most scientific studies find only minor correlations between increased water intake and measurable improvements in issues like acne, wrinkling, and skin dryness. However, research overall remains limited. Here is an overview of what some studies have found:


One small study in 2018 followed 25 people with mild to moderate acne. They drank an additional 2 liters of water per day for 4 weeks under controlled conditions. The results showed a modest decrease in skin lesions and improved skin hydration. However, the 2 liters of additional water did not drastically reduce acne.

A 2021 literature review evaluated if hydration plays a role in acne development. They found staying hydrated is beneficial for overall health but concluded evidence does not support hydration status significantly influencing acne.

Overall, staying hydrated may support acne treatment but is unlikely to singularly clear acne simply by increasing water intake alone.

Skin Aging

Some research looked at correlations between fluid intake and wrinkling or dryness as markers of skin aging. One study in 2019 had women increase daily water intake by just 1 cup for 8 weeks. Only minor improvements in facial wrinkling were observed. Another study in 2015 found inadequate hydration correlated with increased facial dryness but did not significantly impact wrinkling.

While minor benefits for hydration on skin aging may exist, most research agrees the level of water intake needed for these effects is difficult to maintain over long periods of time. Overall, hydration status appears to play a small role in mitigating age-related skin changes compared to other factors like sun protection, nutrition, and genetics.


One study looked at the impact of hydration on atopic dermatitis, also called eczema. Patients with atopic dermatitis are prone to transdermal water loss and dry, itchy skin. When patients increased daily water intake, small improvements were noted in skin dryness and itching intensity. However, the level of improvement was minor compared to using moisturizers and steroid creams.

Researchers concluded staying hydrated may offer small benefits for atopic dermatitis but is not an adequate treatment approach on its own.

Study Participants Hydration Changes Skin Results
2018 acne study 25 people Drank 2 extra liters water daily for 4 weeks Modest decreases in acne lesions and improved hydration but not dramatic clearance of acne
2019 skin aging study Women aged 40-60 Drank 1 extra cup water daily for 8 weeks Minor improvements in facial wrinkling
2021 eczema study 20 adults with eczema Increased daily fluid intake Small reductions in dryness and itch but not adequate to treat eczema alone

Does Drinking Too Little Water Negatively Impact Skin?

While increasing water intake does not seem to drastically improve most skin conditions, research shows that inadequate hydration can negatively impact skin health.

Skin issues like irritation, sensitivity, flakes, lesions, and outbreaks tend to be more common when the body is consistently dehydrated over long periods. Deficiencies in hydration may also impair wound healing and skin repair processes.

Overall, consuming inadequate amounts of water appears to exacerbate skin problems. Yet, drinking extra water beyond meeting basic hydration needs does not seem to confer significant added skin benefits for most people.

Signs of Dehydrated Skin

Here are some signs that may indicate inadequate hydration is negatively affecting your skin:

– Dullness, dryness, or flakiness
– Lack of elasticity, sagging, or wrinkling
– Severe itching or skin sensitivity
– Increase in rashes or skin lesions
– Impaired wound healing
– Increased inflammatory conditions like eczema or rosacea

If you experience ongoing skin issues like these, it can be beneficial to evaluate your fluid intake and increase consumption if below recommended hydration levels. However, skin problems are often multifactorial and hydration is just one piece of the skin health puzzle.

What Are the Recommended Daily Water Intakes?

Here are the general daily total water intake recommendations according to health organizations:


– 3.7 liters (125 oz)


– 2.7 liters (91 oz)


– 3 liters (101 oz)


– 3.8 liters (128 oz)

Note these recommendations include water from both beverages and food sources. About 20% of intake typically comes from food while 80% should come from drinks like water, milk, juice, tea, etc. Those who exercise extensively or live in hot climates may need more. Thirst and urine color are also good indicators of hydration needs.

Tips for Improving Hydration

Here are some tips if you want to examine your fluid intake and aim to meet daily water recommendations:

Gradually Increase Intake

Going from minimal intake to over a gallon of water daily can shock the system. Slowly work up to higher levels over several weeks.

Set Hydration Reminders

Use apps, smart water bottles, or phone alarms to remind yourself to drink water throughout the day.

Infuse or Flavor Water

Adding fruits, herbs, or no-calorie flavor enhancers can make plain water more enticing.

Carry a Water Bottle

Having water easily accessible makes you more inclined to sip it often. Refill an insulated bottle to always have water available.

Choose Water-Based Beverages

Herbal tea, sparkling water, diluted juices, and low-fat milk are healthy ways to hydrate that also provide added nutrients.

Eat Water-Rich Foods

Fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, yogurt, berries, and melons all contribute to fluid intake needs.

Limit Dehydrating Drinks

Sugary sodas, excessive alcohol, and caffeinated coffee and tea can have dehydrating effects if consumed in excess.

Other Benefits of Staying Hydrated

Adequate hydration levels are crucial for aspects of health beyond skin including:

Brain Function

Even mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, concentration and cause headaches.

Physical Performance

Decreased hydration leads to reduced endurance, muscle strength, and coordination.


Water is needed for healthy digestion and to prevent issues like constipation.

Kidney Health

Dehydration strains the kidneys and can increase the risk of developing kidney stones.

Weight Management

Drinking water before meals can aid weight loss by reducing calorie intake and boosting metabolism.

Heart Health

Dehydration thickens the blood, increasing the risk of dangerous clots and raising cholesterol.

The Bottom Line

While research overall does not find dramatic skin clearing effects from increasing plain water intake alone, staying well hydrated still remains important for skin health and general well-being. If you struggle with skin issues, focusing first on proven approaches like diet, skincare routines, and lifestyle management is recommended. But simultaneously assessing your fluid intake and aiming to meet daily recommendations can support healthy, vibrant skin as part of an overall skin care regimen.

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