Last week, I saw my friend for the first time in a while, and her skin looked like that of a glowing, ethereal angel. "What are you using?!" I demanded, studying her rosy cheeks and dewy face. "Nothing!" she shot back. "I just started drinking a ton of water." Ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Because of course that was her answer—it's been the same answer that's been given in every single Hollywood interview since the beginning of time.
Oh, you want to know the secret to Hailey Baldwin's perfect-looking skin? It's just water. What's the key to Helen Mirren's wrinkle-free face, you ask? A bunch of water, of course. What's the trick to fighting gender oppression while solving a Rubix cube while looking like Beyoncé? You guessed it: water!
Listen, I'm all about guzzling water or wine or magical, glittery potions all the live long day, if it makes you feel better about yourself and your face, but I need to know if there's any science behind it. I need to know if hooking my mouth up to a garden hose will give me perfect skin, or just some bladder issues. Basically, I need a definitive, final answer that I can hold over my friends for the rest of my life.
So I went out and got one.
"Sorry, but no, water is not the secret cure for all of your skin issues," says Yale dermatologist and ultimate myth-slayer, Mona Gohara, MD. "Yes, it's true that your skin can functionally benefit from being well-hydrated, because it's an organ, but it's not like the water you drink will funnel directly into your pores to cure your acne or get rid of wrinkles."
So does that mean Dame Helen Mirren is a big ol' fancy liar? Not quite, says Gohara. "At the end of the day, your skin barrier functions better when it's well-hydrated, and worse when it's dehydrated," she says. Which explains why your face looks like the Crypt-Keeper after a night of drinking, versus an angelic cherub after a day of downing fruit, veggies, and water.
Still, unless you're severely dehydrated, guzzling a ton of water isn't going to suddenly give you a perfect, model-level glow, and it definitely won't impact your acne or wrinkles, though it "might make your skin look a bit healthier and softer," says Gohara. "Just don't expect miracles."
Plus, she adds, when you survey all of the models, celebrities, and friends who have recently started upping their water intake, you'll also notice that the majority of them have made other major changes in their life, like eating healthier, exercising more, and cutting alcohol. "Realistically, the people who attribute their perfect skin to water are also eating the right foods, living healthier lifestyles, and replacing coffee and soda with water, all of which can decrease acne and increase water retention, giving skin a healthy, plumper appearance," says Gohara.
And, sure enough, when I texted my friend to see if she had made any other changes to her life, she noted that she took up running, stopped drinking alcohol, and started taking off her makeup at night. "Yeah," says Gohara when I read her the texts, "nine times out of ten, everything else you're doing for your health will impact the appearance of your skin more than water will."
So, there you have it: A final, definitive answer on whether or not downing water is the key to perfect-looking skin. Though it can't really hurt, it definitely won't blow your mind, either. Still, if you want to perpetuate the myth and feel like Beyoncé at the same time, just get your shit together in every other aspect of your life, then tell everyone your success was all because of water.
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