It is so easy to confuse dehydrated skin for dry skin, and the same can be true for a dry scalp. Before looking at which of the products we are using could be the problem, our first port of call is to check our hydration levels. Water is vital for human health. Our body needs water in order to function effectively, especially our skin. Approximately 50-70% of our body mass is made up of water. However, that amount is changing all the time. Just by breathing, sweating and going to the toilet, we are losing water. Our body can last weeks without food but only a few days without water so we must drink enough water in order to stay hydrated.
HOW WATER BENEFITS THE BODY AND SUPPORTS THE FUNCTION OF THE SKIN (AND SCALP)
- It helps to protect and replenish tissues and the spinal cord by forming ‘bags’ of synovial fluid between each of the joints, lubricating and cushioning them (our bones are made up of 30% water). It also increases elasticity.
- Circulatory function – it aids the processes of circulation keeping our blood circulating through blood vessels, carrying oxygen so our organs and muscles can work effectively.
- It supports the absorption of essential nutrients by transporting substrates such as minerals, assisting these to pass through cell membranes via the process of osmosis.
- In the same way that it supports carrying nutrients to where they are needed, it also flushes out toxins and waste products from the body via the liver and kidneys through urination and defecation.
- It aids digestion by creating saliva and moistening mucous membranes (such as our mouth and lungs), making nutrients more accessible to the body.
- It plays a role in the production of stomach acid and can also prevent constipation by helping food to move through the intestines.
- Through a process called homeostasis, water helps to maintain a balance of body fluids in cells and organs, regulates body temperature and blood glucose (sugar) levels. Because the internal and external environments of a cell are constantly changing, our nervous system and hormones use nervous and chemical responses to control and regulate the homeostatic process in the body. Receptors detect any changes in the environment such as temperature. Coordination centres in the brain, spinal cord and pancreas receive information from the receptors to instigate a response and then our effectors (muscles and glands) create the required response. It is the thermoregulatory centre within the hypothalamus in our brain which controls our body temperature and is made up of around 80% water. Water then helps to direct blood flow to either radiate heat through perspiration or insulate the blood.
- It increases our metabolic rate (where the body transforms what we eat and drink into energy) so provides a boost to our energy levels.
- It moisturises skin to maintain a healthy texture and appearance and promotes hair growth…
DEHYDRATED VS DRY SKIN
Put simply, the difference between dehydrated and dry skin is that dehydrated skin is lacking water and dry skin is lacking natural oils (sebum).
When skin becomes dehydrated, it creates more oil to make up for the missing water so it can be oily and dry at the same time. It also becomes tight and can cause breakouts and/or irritation. It looks dull in appearance, skin tone is uneven and fine lines may appear. Shadows may appear on the face under the eyes and around the nose, and eyes may appear sunken with dark circles beneath them.
Hair is like a plant, it grows from its roots. Water makes up about 25% of a single strand of hair. Water is regulated through the circulatory system so prioritises vital parts of the body first (brain and heart). If the body does not have enough water to reach the scalp, the scalp becomes dry, dandruff and other scalp conditions may occur, and hair follicles will not be nourished (water is the key source of minerals – iron, zinc, copper and calcium, which are the most important nutrients for hair), hair then becomes dull, dry and brittle and ultimately, will stop growing.
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR HYDRATION LEVELS
The good news is that dehydrated skin and scalp, and thereby dry skin and scalp, can be vastly improved by increasing the amount of water you consume. Here are our top 5 tips for upping your intake:
- As much as possible, opt for water over other drinks, adding fresh fruit for variety. If you’re a fan of hot drinks, try herbal teas as these are essentially flavoured water!
- Carry a reusable water bottle whenever you go out and refill at every opportunity.
- Have a jug of water and a glass on the desk when you’re working. Use a reusable straw too as this helps you to drink more quickly.
- Set up prompts on your phone to drink throughout the day via apps like the Drink Water Reminder N Tracker for Apple devices or Water Reminder for Android devices.
- Eat foods that are rich in water like cucumber, watermelon, zucchini and grapefruit. Have a drink of water during meals too as this improves uptake of nutrients and supports the kidneys to filter out what can’t be used.
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HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOU ARE STAYING HYDRATED?
We’d love for you to tell us in a comment below!