By Elsa de Berker
In the quest for luminous, dewy skin, we slather on countless creams and serums, shell out hard-earned dollars for new-fangled facial gadgets, and save up for elaborate treatments that cost the same as night in a luxury hotel. It’s not that these things can’t help attain specific goals (dependent on which you choose, all of the above can impact your complexion tremendously one way or another), it’s that none of them alone are the solution if you don’t first consider the importance of your lifestyle as an imperative tool in your skincare arsenal. This is true of a wide-ranging slew of common skin complaints, but none more so than dehydration.
“Dehydration occurs pretty quickly, and yes—diet and lifestyle does have a lot to do with it,” says Youth To The People’s Product Innovation Manager, Mercedes Taylor. “The most common causes are total body dehydration (i.e. not drinking enough water, and also depleting your water intake quickly with vigorous exercise), abrupt changes in climate, sleeping with the heater or air conditioning on, and extended periods spent in airplanes, hotels, and new cities.”
At a time when many of us are heading into a season of cold weather, holiday travel, and oftentimes the holiday consumption that comes with it, Taylor spells out the exact effect your lifestyle could be having on your skin and how—if you do indulge—to do so without compromising your complexion.
Coffee is an Issue
“People tend to wake up and head straight for their coffee cup, but as soon as you wake up, you should drink 16 ounces of room temperature water instead. Caffeine in large quantities first thing is terrible for your skin.”
Some Products Are, Too
“If you’ve been using a product for a while and suddenly your face is sensitive, take a couple steps back and ask yourself the following questions: What ingredients could be causing the issue? Did my environment just change (i.e. from summer to winter)? Did I alter my diet dramatically this week? Use your answers to assess if the root cause of the sensitivity is dehydration. If it is, it may be time to consider changing your routine to suit your current lifestyle and climate.”
“Smoking is the worst thing you can do for your body and skin. Pollutants like carbon monoxide cause irreparable damage to everything around it, and your skin will age faster if you smoke. By quitting, your entire being will thank you.”
“Drinking tons of water won’t immediately combat dry, flaky skin—but it will help in the long run. It takes 28 days for skin cells to fully turnover, so whatever you’re eating and drinking today and tomorrow will affect how your skin feels and looks in four weeks.”
When to Worry
“Sensitivity is the most noticeable symptom of dehydrated skin. If you’re seeing redness on the cheeks, around the nose, and especially in your T-zone, it’s time to reconsider what you’re doing.”
Keep It Cool
“Washing your face with hot water is the major cause of skin sensitivity aka dehydration. Lukewarm, body temperature water is the best for cleansing your face and keeping things glowy.”
“Bear in mind that for any lifestyle improvements—like drinking more water and cutting down on alcohol consumption, smoking, sugar, coffee, and dairy—you might not see any improvements until three months down the line. Don’t let that discourage you, though; as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Patience is key for progress.”