- Some people believe drinking water may improve acne by flushing toxins from the skin, decreasing oil production and more
- There’s no science that directly links water consumption with improvements in acne
- Staying well hydrated is vital to overall health and can indirectly improve acne and promote clear skin
- The amount of water you should drink each day depends in part on your sex, activity level and your climate
Water has long been regarded as essential to healthy, glowing skin, but does drinking water help acne? While it’s natural to assume so, the role water plays in clear skin is murky at best, as there’s no research to directly support this theory.
That said, staying well hydrated by drinking enough water and other beverages, and eating foods that contain water, has general health benefits that improves the health and appearance of the skin.
Why Do People Drink Water to Treat Acne?
There are several common beliefs about the relationship between drinking lots of water and acne prevention which include:
- Drinking lots of water will help detox the skin by flushing out substances that contribute to clogged pores
- Increasing water intake will prevent skin from becoming overdry and triggering the production of excess sebum (oil)
- The overall benefits of staying well hydrated will indirectly improve the health and appearance of the skin
Can Drinking Water Actually Help Acne?
Yes, it can help but it can’t eliminate acne altogether. While there’s no research to show a direct link with drinking water and acne prevention, it is commonly understood that drinking adequate amounts of water promotes skin hydration which can in turn help prevent acne.
One study of a review of scientific literature established a link between water consumption and skin hydration which is an important finding, as overdry skin can activate sebum production resulting in acne.
Can drinking water make acne worse?
No, this is a myth. It’s unclear where this idea came from, although there may be a belief that water can contain chemicals or other substances that weaken the immune system. There’s also no scientific proof to support drinking only filtered or bottled water in order to address skin issues or promote clear skin.
How much water should you drink?
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the amount of water you should drink each day depends on several factors, starting with sex: women should consume around 91 fluid ounces of water per day; men 125 ounces.
These recommendations include water from all sources, e.g., beverages and foods with a high water content. However, there is some evidence the average intake of food and beverages isn’t enough to fully replace lost fluids. Those who are very active or live in very warm climates can lose more fluids than average through perspiration and should therefore drink more.
Benefits of Drinking Water for Skin Health
Even though there are no known direct links between drinking water and skin conditions such as acne, there are known benefits of drinking water for overall health and skin health.
Water keeps skin hydrated and supple, supports the immune system and regulates blood glucose (sugar) which can contribute to skin health and even play a role in controlling acne.
Research supports the theory of drinking water to maintain hydration and prevent dry skin. In one study, they found that those who drank large quantities of water on a daily basis for 1 month were found to have significant increases in skin hydration which could have a positive effect on skin health.
Regarding the potential benefit of adequate skin hydration for controlling acne, when skin becomes overly dry, sebum production can increase to compensate. Given excess sebum is one of the known causes of acne, it stands to reason taking measures to hydrate skin might play a role in preventing the development of acne.
Supporting the immune system
Adequate hydration is vital to keeping all systems in the body working at optimal levels, including the immune system. Research suggests a healthy immune system may play a role in overall skin health, and acne in particular, by fighting off Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) bacteria associated with inflammatory acne.
Regulating blood sugar
Drinking too little water has been found to play a potential role in the development of high blood sugar levels, a condition known as hyperglycemia that can lead to type 2 diabetes if it becomes chronic.
There’s a possible connection between high blood sugar and acne based on evidence that eating foods high in sugar raises levels of insulin in the blood. Insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood glucose sugar, is known to stimulate the production of hormones that can drive excess sebum production.
Although no direct links have been found between drinking lots of water and controlling acne, there are studies that support doing so to maintain overall health and in several ways to healthy skin, in particular.
Adequate hydration will provide skin benefits such as stronger more supple skin, prevent acne-causing oiliness, and reduce dryness and roughness. Hydration is a key element in supporting the immune system which in turn protects the skin from bacteria and infection.
Adopting the habit of drinking at least eight glasses of water a day can yield healthier, clear skin and perhaps fewer breakouts.
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- U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for electrolytes and water. Oct 2, 2020. https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/dietary-reference-intakes-for-electrolytes-and-water
- Dréno, B., Pécastaings, S., Corvec, S., Veraldi, S., Khammari, A., & Roques, C. (2018). Cutibacterium acnes (Propionibacterium acnes) and acne vulgaris: a brief look at the latest updates. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV, 32 Suppl 2, 5–14. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.15043
- Bernales Salinas A. (2021). Acne vulgaris: role of the immune system. International journal of dermatology, 10.1111/ijd.15415. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijd.15415
- Kucharska, A., Szmurło, A., & Sińska, B. (2016). Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Postepy dermatologii i alergologii, 33(2), 81–86. https://doi.org/10.5114/ada.2016.59146
- Roussel, R., Fezeu, L., Bouby, N., Balkau, B., Lantieri, O., Alhenc-Gelas, F., Marre, M., Bankir, L., & D.E.S.I.R. Study Group (2011). Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia. Diabetes care, 34(12), 2551–2554. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc11-0652
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- Akdeniz M, Tomova-Simitchieva T, Dobos G, Blume-Peytavi U, Kottner J. Does dietary fluid intake affect skin hydration in healthy humans? A systematic literature review. Skin Res Technol. 2018 Aug;24(3):459-465. doi:10.1111/srt.12454