For the past 10 years of my life, I have experienced fluctuating bouts with acne. When I say fluctuating, I mean acne has invaded my life in the form of little teenage zits to big zonkers consuming my entire face. At the ripe age of 26, my acne has stabilized at consistent breakouts around my neck and jaw…those pesky things.
So what’s a (vegan) girl to do about it? Reflecting on the mountain of failed solutions stacked behind me, I wanted to try a simpler step forward. Something small, but powerful. And that brought me to water.
The benefits of drinking water have been praised everywhere. It seems that even people with the greatest differences agree that drinking water is good for us. No matter where you live, what you eat, or whose political campaign you’re backing, we all know that drinking water is part of a healthy lifestyle. Many have also claimed that water is vital for clear and hydrated skin.
So, would simply drinking more water keep my acne at bay? After doing more research, I decided to find out firsthand. I challenged myself to drink 2 liters of water every day for a month. With little expectations, I made this new commitment to my water bottle (and to the toilet) for 28 days.
The results shocked me.
Besides peeing a lot more (obviously), I noticed significantly less breakouts that would typically form around my chin and jaw. What the H…20?
So what caused this change? Was it truly the water? Or another mystery factor? If water is the ticket to clearer skin, then I’m going to need more of those tickets ASAP. Current research provides clues as to why drinking more water may help reduce acne.
Water and Skin Research:
It’s clear that water is crucial to the human body. Water plays an important role in our body’s digestion, circulation, absorption, and excretion systems. If these systems are functioning properly, then our skin should be set up for success, right?
It turns out that water has indeed been shown to directly impact our skin. One study found that increasing water consumption was associated with greater superficial and deep hydration of the skin. Researchers concluded that drinking water may actually hydrate the skin similarly to a topical moisturizer. These researchers are not alone in their findings. The Mayo Clinic also claims that drinking water can keep the skin hydrated. Does this mean we can look beyond the medicine cabinet for skin health?
It’s a commonly held belief that acne breakouts are a sign of our body detoxing. While “detox” is certainly a buzz word these days, there is validity to this new trendy product label. As it turns out, our body has a system for detoxing all on its own. The liver, kidneys, lungs, digestive system, and skin are organs built to detoxify our body. These organs fight to expel toxins (such as chemicals and air pollutants) that can collect in our system.
Our body certainly fights to protect us. But when an overload of toxins accumulate, they may surface through breakouts on our skin. So how can we aid our body’s detoxing efforts? Drinking water supports the natural functioning of our detox organs. Our kidneys and colons use water to excrete waste (aka pee and poop) containing expelled toxins from the body. I love the idea of peeing out potential breakouts!
Speaking of detox, the lymphatic system is like the MVP of our immune system. It’s filled with a fluid called lymph which holds white blood cells, our bodies defense against bacteria and infection. I like to think of white blood cells as our body’s love warriors on a mission to protect the mothership.
According to Dr. Stacey Shillington, ND, lymph fluid picks up the toxins from our organs and brings them to the cardiovascular system, where they’re carried to the liver and kidneys for elimination.
So how does drinking water improve the lymphatic system? When we are hydrated, the fluid in our lymph is thin and can move through our lymph vessels easily. A freer flow makes it easy to transport and expel toxins. But when we are dehydrated, our lymph fluid is thicker, making it hard to move toxins through our lymphatic system. This stagnation means the toxin-filled lymph can build up around our lymph nodes! These toxins are just sitting there under our precious skin, or as Dr. Shillington so lovingly puts it, “surrounded by a toxic swamp.” If you’re like me and have breakouts around your neck, jaw, or ears, it may be due to lymph fluid stagnation. I have to say, the visual of my neck as a swamp full of toxins is not particularly pleasing…
While a causal relationship between water and acne has not been proven, the findings show that it certainly can’t hurt skin health. The World Health Organization recommends women drink between 2 – 2.7 liters of water a day. This includes the water found in food (fruits, vegetables, smoothies, soups, etc.).
Now I am that girl who carries her water bottle around with her. In the car. Around the house. At work. And I haven’t looked back. Beyond just my skin, it feels good to make a daily habit of a health behavior I know my body wants me to adopt.
If you don’t have the time or energy for big lifestyle transitions, simply drinking more water may be a small step toward clear skin.
Anyone else filling up their water bottle right now?
Photo: Lindsay Frederick