"I just drink lots of water,” has got to be most the most clichéd answer when it comes to celebrities sharing their secrets to beautiful skin. Even though we know that hydrated skin looks younger and is generally more resilient, no one has ever drank their way out of irritated, dry skin. Maintaining a healthy water-balance on your face takes a lot more than just eight glasses a day. “It’s tough because everything from the hot climate, air-conditioning, sugary drinks, chugging too much coffee and exercising can deplete skin’s water levels,” explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr Jaishree Sharad. While dry skin is partly determined by genetics (sorry), its hydration levels are in constant flux and can be changed.
But how can you really tell if your face is dehydrated? Dermatologist Dr Kiran Lohia says, “You’ll know if your skin feels tight and uncomfortable. It’s also likely to be dehydrated if little lines appear after you pinch it.” And no matter how greasy your skin is, don’t question the need for extra moisture. You still need to use a water-based moisturiser to prevent your skin from going into major oil production due to water loss.
Flip through the gallery to find out how to keep your skin far away from the Sahara zone.
Don’t just drink water, eat it too
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from DJ Khaled’s Snapchat, it's that water is the key to success (he drinks a gallon a day). But our bodies aren’t like plants that perk up with a few glasses of water. The water first goes through the digestive system, then the bloodstream and is finally filtered by the kidneys before it hydrates any cells. Boost your levels with water-rich fruits and veggies (like cucumber, celery, tomato and watermelon) and include foods high in omega-3 (salmon, flax seeds, walnut, olive oil and chia seeds) that increase the skin cells’ ability to hold more water and dispose waste. You still can't discount the importance of a good skincare routine, says Dr Sharad. “Remember our skin’s outer surface can’t draw water from inside the body, so your moisturiser is just as important as the water you drink.”
Take a midday moisture break with soothing spring water.
You can try:
La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water, Rs 550
Dermalogica Multi-Active Toner, Rs 2,375
Vichy Thermal Spa Water, Rs 450
Avène Thermal Spring Water, Rs 1,145
Take a good look at your cleanser
That squeaky-clean feeling you’ve come to love after a long shower is actually a bad thing. It’s proof that your face has been stripped of natural oils. And since skin relies on these oils to hold on to water, you’re going to lose moisture too.
Stay away from hot water, harsh toners, foaming face washes and certain retinol formulas that melt these protective oils. Instead, Dr Sharad recommends cream cleansers (like Cetaphil) or a brush system (like Clarisonic) to gently rinse the face without causing any damage. If your skin has already been subjected to a moisture-zapping face wash, it can prevent the most powerful serums and creams from doing their job. Enlist a mild exfoliator (look for one with lactic acid) to sweep away this build-up of dead, dehydrated cells. If you’re dealing with a persistent dry patch, Dr Lohia suggests oil cleansers and copious amounts of moisturiser to seal in the water.
Pack in more H2O with make-up that turns skin into butter
You can try:
Lakmé 9 to 5 Flawless MakeUp, Rs 575
L’Oréal Paris Moist Mat Lipstick, Rs 899
Maybelline New York Baby Lips Candy Wow, Rs 275
Make Up For Ever Hydrating Primer, Rs 3,300
Get your glow back
Skin is largely made up of water, so every step of your skincare routine should work towards maintaining or rebuilding moisture levels. Make sure you apply a moisturiser immediately after cleansing. Try face oils—they’ve got a lot of bad press in the past, but the new, lighter formulas come with hydrating and rebalancing powers. Wear enough sunscreen—your moisture levels take a big hit after prolonged sun exposure. And put on a mask at least twice a week—it’s the new gold standard for supple skin. Not only does it wake up your face quicker than a 4pm sugar fix, it pumps your skin with a cocktail of nourishing ingredients. The new crop of masks multitask as they restore hydration, smoothe skin tone and boost radiance. “Look for ingredients that bind more water in the skin, like glycerin, urea, sodium lactate and hyaluronic acid,” says Dr Lohia. If the creamy ones don’t work for you, try masks in sheet or foil form, in splash form or even a gel that you can wear to bed.
Yes, staying hydrated is a constant battle and labour-intensive, but when it’s all done, you’ll be ready for some top Snapchat selfie opportunities.
Try thirst-quenching serums for an instant facelift
You can try:
Lakmé Absolute Skin Gloss Reflection Serum, Rs 899
L’Oréal Paris HydraFresh Deep Boosting Essence, Rs 755
Kiehl’s Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate, Rs 4,450
Aviance Hydra Balance Serum at Nykaa.com, Rs 1,099
According to a study by the European Hydration Institute, a glass of milk is more hydrating than plain water (with orange juice coming in at a close second). The team studied 13 common drinks and created a Beverage Hydration Index based on how our bodies react to these liquids. So if you’re going on a long road trip with fewer pee breaks, milk is a wiser choice as it also stays in the body for longer.
Let steam help you
Old-school facial steaming can be just what you need to boost hydration. Scoop dried herbs (like lavender) and let seep in warm water. Then smooth facial oil over parched skin before you allow the steam to envelop your face. This also helps the oil work better on your skin.
Check in with your dermat
Sign up for a HydraFacial! The popular four-step treatment includes a gentle peel, pore extraction and a moisturising mix of hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. Your dermatologist can give you many more options tailored to your needs, too. “Hydrating facials are designed to infuse skin with actives that will draw in more moisture,” says Dr Lohia. “Look for one that is hypoallergenic, so you’ll have a low risk of allergy.”