Like all parts of the body, skin needs to be kept well hydrated. Without sufficient water, skin can’t function effectively.
Before we take a look at three ways to keep our skin hydrated, let’s get a close-up of skin itself …
Skin helps us understand the world through the sense of touch, and it contributes to temperature regulation. But the chief purpose of the skin is to protect the rest of the body from the extra somatic environment. It acts as a barrier to pathogens, pollution, UV rays, impact, and abrasion.
This huge organ is made up of three main layers:
The epidermis is made up mainly of keratinocytes, a type of cell that generates the insoluble protein a-keratin. A-keratin accounts for approximately 95% of all proteins present in the epidermis and can function as one of the strongest biological materials. It’s the a-keratin content of keratinocytes that gives the epidermis its protective properties.
Within the epidermis, each keratinocyte cell divides to produce two identical cells. Whilst one of the pair remains in situ to divide again, the other migrates towards the surface of the skin where it undergoes biochemical and morphological changes, a process known as differentiation. As a keratinocyte cell reaches the stratum corneum (Latin “horny layer”), which is the outermost layer of the epidermis, its nucleus degenerates and the cell secretes a fatty cement into the intercellular spaces. This secretion increases cohesion between the cells, forming a robust physical barrier to the environment. The cell is now a corneocyte, capable of absorbing small amounts of water to help keep the skin hydrated and flexible.
The action of specific enzymes causes corneocytes to lose cohesion and separate from the skin’s surface. This shedding process is called desquamation. A complete turnover of the corneocyte layer every two to four weeks prevents the colonisation of pathogens in the skin.
There are lots of ways to keep your skin hydrated, but these are three of the most important.
Corneocytes are continually being shed through the process of desquamation, and also through scratching, washing, and other forms of abrasion. Excessive abrasion – for example, daily exfoliation – can scrape away cells that aren’t ready to be shed, leaving the surface of the skin lacking an adequate layer of corneocytes. This means that the skin has less potential for absorbing and retaining water.
Hyaluronic acid (C14H21NO11)n is a major component of the extracellular matrix (a network of macromolecules that give structural and chemical support to cells) and of synovial fluid (a lubricant and cushion to joints and spinal vertebrae). Hyaluronic acid is also an important component of skin. It plays a role in wound repair, contributes to cell proliferation and migration, and helps keep skin hydrated by binding water molecules to the protein collagen.
Many skincare products contain a synthetic version of hyaluronic acid. Applying these products to damp skin will help draw water into your epidermis.
You can also boost levels through diet.
Magnesium is involved in the production of hyaluronic acid. Foods that are rich in magnesium include: kale, almonds, sweet potato, soybeans, avocado, cocoa, mackerel, salmon, and Brazil nuts.
Hyaluronic acid is broken down by hyaluronidase enzymes. The activity of hyaluronidase is blocked by naringenin (C15H12O5), a plant compound that occurs abundantly in nearly all citrus fruits. By eating oranges and other citrus fruits, you can partially block hyaluronidase, which could help maintain a healthy level of hyaluronic acid in your skin.
Not only will citrus fruits provide you with naringenin – they’ll also give you vitamin C, which promotes the synthesis of collagen. Collagen gives strength and elasticity to skin. With plenty of hyaluronic acid to help bind water to the collagen, your skin will have an excellent chance of staying hydrated, plump, and young-looking.
Collagen and hyaluronic acid can only keep your skin hydrated if there’s water available. A little water can be absorbed into the skin from outside the body, and a small amount of water is produced through the metabolic process. But a body’s main source of water is through diet. To stay healthy, we need to eat and drink plenty of water.
An important role of water in the body is to flush out toxins and toxicants. The more hydrated we are, the more urine we produce, and the more often our bodies can get rid of harmful waste. Like all organs, our skin functions best when it’s free of toxic substances.
In our busy lives, it’s sometimes difficult to stay hydrated, especially if we don’t tend to get thirsty – something that happens as we age. Having a refillable water bottle with you at all times will help to get you in the habit of drinking regularly. Aim to drink 2 litres of fluid each day; ideally, some of that amount should be pure water.
A really healthy way to stay hydrated is by consuming lemon water. Just add the juice of one or two lemons to hot, ambient, chilled, or sparkling water. Add honey, ginger, or fresh mint leaves for an extra dimension in flavour.
Lemon juice contains:
If you’d like to talk to us about sustainable hydration solutions, give us a call on 0800 080 6696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to talking to you.