True or False: Drinking water is THE best way to keep your skin hydrated
Your skin has a protective lipid barrier. This barrier is what protects your skin and holds moisture in. When this barrier gets penetrated the skin begins to dry out, becomes damaged and wrinkles begin to form causing premature aging. So is drinking water THE best way to keep your skin hydrated?
First we’ll take a look at how this protective barrier on our skin gets broken down and then we’ll take a look at how best to keep it hydrated, all in 3 easy steps.
Here are some things that break thru the protective barrier on your skin:
*Environment: Harsh winds, sun, low humidity, dry heat
*chemicals: Cleaning supplies, harsh soaps like antibacterial dish soaps and commercial “soaps” both bar and liquid.
I can hear the rejoicing now: “Whoo Hoo!!! No more cleaning!!” Not quite so fast.
Protection is the BEST plan. This gives us our first 2 steps:
- Remove harsh chemicals as much as possible. We should be removing these from our homes anyway. Natural products like baking soda, vinegar and essential oils clean just as well as chemicals and give us the satisfaction of a fresh clean without the harmful chemicals all while saving money! Wait….what’s considered a “harsh chemical”? Things we sometimes don’t think about being harsh chemicals, like anti-bacterial dishwashing soaps, commercial bar soaps, and liquid hand-washing soaps, still break down that lipid barrier on your skin. They most certainly will strip the oils off of your hands in a heartbeat! Wash dishes a few times a day using antibacterial dishsoap or wash your hands each time you go to the bathroom and after just a few times using a detergent bar you’ll quickly be on your way to dry hands.
Am I telling you not to use antibacterial dish-soap? Nope, just protect your hands with gloves whenever using it to wash dishes.
OK! Problem solved for antibacterial soap, we’re going to protect our skin when using it, but what about hand-washing after bathroom trips, meals, etc.? Or what about in the shower? How can we protect that natural barrier on our skin then? Just use lotion after washing, right? Well, maybe. You could and it would certainly be a solution, but is it the BEST solution? Using lotion after washing your hands and showering will certainly help maintain that barrier after it’s broken down from washing with a detergent bar. But what if there was a way to wash and get hands and body clean without even breaking down the protective lipid barrier on your skin in the first place? This question leads us to step 2.
- Use gentle, cleansing soap that will actually nourish the protective barrier of your skin.
First you need to understand that all “soap” is not created equal! The “soap” that is sold commercially in stores under brand names such as Dial, Dove, etc. are actually detergent bars (another name these bars are referred to are syndet bars-synthetic detergent bars). They are made from detergents, chemical surfactants, preservatives, parabens and sodium laurel sulfate.
In order for “soap” to be REAL soap, it has to have been made with lye so that it goes through a process called saponification. Saponification is a fancy word to describe a natural process that happens when lye and oils form a connection that creates soap. After the soap-making process is completed, there isn’t any lye left over in the finished product as it is all “used up” during the soap-making process. There are additional benefits of REAL soap. During the saponification process glycerin is formed as a natural by-product.
Glycerin has long been desired for it’s ability to moisturize as well as smooth skin. Glycerin is considered a humectant, which means that it attracts moisture and when on your skin it brings water to your skin. In fact according to newhealthguide.org, “glycerin is so absorptive that if you leave a pure bottle of it open, it would eventually absorb enough water to change its composition to only 80% glycerin with the other 20% being water.”
Companies that manufacture soap remove the glycerin that is naturally formed in the soap-making process and then turn the glycerin into lotion, conditioner, etc. By removing the glycerin from the soap it is no longer moisturizing, but purely cleansing and so now to prevent dryness you need something to moisturize and condition hands, skin or hair. So you now need to not only buy soap or shampoo, but moisturizers, lotions and conditioners too. Very entrepreneurial of Mr. Proctor and Mr. Gamble, don’t you think?
Since the glycerin isn’t removed in real soap, using REAL SOAP naturally draws moisture to your skin, nourishing and strengthening the protective barrier. Since we wash hands many times throughout the day (and all of our skin in the shower) using real soap is the BEST way to maintain that natural built-in protective barrier your skin was provided with all day long! By using natural soap, to your skin it’s like wearing those protective gloves while doing dishes!
Ok so now we know that prevention by wearing gloves and using natural soap is the best plan for keeping the protective barrier intact. Let’s talk about the final step to the best way hydrate our skin.
- Protect and hydrate your skin from the inside out. So this is where you think, “Aha! FINALLY! It’s TRUE: water is the best way to keep your skin hydrated so drink lots of water…right?”
Although drinking some purified water is healthy for us in general, we do not soak up water directly into our skin cells. We are not like plants that can take a big drink of water and instantly hydrate its cells. Water has to first be digested, absorbed into your bloodstream and then filtered by your kidneys before it then hydrates your cells. So although drinking purified water is healthy for our system, it’s actually not the BEST way to keep your skin hydrated. So….what is????
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, healthy fats from seeds, nuts, and a limited amount of grassfed meats or salmon goes further to keep your skin hydrated from within than drinking lots of water does.
In fact, instead of chugging a quart of water, up your greens, vegetables & fruit intake and not only will you up your water intake but you’ll also increase your intake of vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes and minerals which will really make your skin glow from the inside out (and possibly shed a few pounds too?).
In proportion to their weight, fruits and vegetables contain a large quantity of water. Everyone knows that watermelon (hence the name) contains a large amount of water (about 92% according to the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service) but did you know that they also report zucchini, celery, broccoli, and greens are EACH over 90% water)? There are lots of other benefits of “eating” your water, like increased fiber for good digestion and prevention of disease as well as encourging a healthy weight but for the purposes of this post we just wanted to highlight a not-so-well-known fact that you can “eat your water” by eating a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables. Seeds, nuts, and limited amounts of grassfed meats provide the healthy oils that all of your body needs but that your skin will love you for too!
So there you go, 3 easy steps to keep your skin hydrated and healthy! Your take-away from this post?
- Start using dish gloves when doing dishes
- Use REAL soap for your shower and handwashing. Place a bar (or 2 different ones for trading off scents for different moods) and at your sinks. Remember to use a soap dish that drains (sometimes called a soap deck) to keep your soap from melting so that you get a better value in a longer-lasting bar.
One benefit of being a small soap-maker is that we can personally formulate recipes that we then make in small batches, using essential oils and additives like shea butter, cocoa butter, silk, goats milk (raised here on our farm), clays, etc. that enhance your skin even more than just protecting the lipid barrier. Each essential oil combination gives different scents and using different botanicals and spices gives each bar it’s own look and texture. Hand made in small batches at a time ensures that each bar is unique, it’s own work of art. To make it easier to keep soap at your sinks we now have sink chubs. These are sink-sized bars that you can mix and match (different scents and colors and textures) so that you can change them out with the changing of your mood! Regular hand-washing doesn’t have to be boring!
- Add some fruits, greens and veggies, nuts and seeds to your diet each day! Sign up above to get your free copy of our “Make Your Skin Glow” Smoothie Recipe to get all those things in at once in a yummy and painless way! This is typically what I have for breakfast each day and my kids beg for it for afternoon snack!
Do you have some great tips for hydrating your skin? Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe or way to get in those healthy fruits, veggies, greens and seeds? Tell us in the comments below!