Don’t worry; I’m not encouraging the myth that drinking more water will solve all your skin issues. But we can’t ignore that staying hydrated is essential for healthy skin. Our skin can naturally exfoliate itself, encouraging the correct turnover and shedding of skin cells – this process is known as desquamation. Typically, people with acne have issues with desquamation, meaning that skin cells aren’t shed correctly, and skin cells can get stuck together, contributing to blocked pores. For this process to work effectively, the skin needs to be hydrated both internally and topically – and I’m sharing the best drinks for clear skin that you can add to your diet today.
We need to talk about skin barrier function.
Ok, before I tell you which drinks are best for clear skin (although you could scroll down if you’re desperate to find out), we need to talk about skin barrier function. A healthy skin barrier helps to keep your skin hydrated – it stops water from evaporating through the skin (known as transepidermal water loss, or TEWL). By reducing the amount of water lost through the skin, the skin has the water it needs to promote the correct shedding of the skin, helping you achieve the clear skin you dream of.
You could be drinking all the water in the world, but if your skin barrier is damaged, you will have a hard time keeping that water where it needs to be.
What can cause an increase in TEWL? Anything that damages your skin barrier, which can look like this:
- Over-cleansing or using a cleanser that’s too harsh for your skin
- Low-fat diet
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Cold weather or low humidity
- Central heating
- Genetics – filaggrin mutations (can be common in people with eczema)
- Damage/trauma to the skin
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – your skincare routine can make or break your skin barrier function. This is why you must get your skincare recommendations from a professional who cares about skin barrier function. You could be eating and drinking all the correct things, but if you’re damaging your skin daily with the incorrect skincare, you’re fighting a losing battle.
Why you need to drink water.
Our skin is 64% water, making it a fundamental part of achieving healthy skin. Aside from hydrating our skin, water helps the body to remove toxins, carries nutrients to our skin and aids digestion. As well, if you’re not drinking enough water, it can contribute to headaches, fatigue and brain fog.
Some things can cause us to lose more water
The body loses water through sweating, breathing and urinating, so it’s vital to replenish fluids throughout the day – especially if you’re doing a lot of exercise. As well, certain drinks can increase the excretion of water from the body, so if any of the following make up a large percentage of your fluid intake you might want to look at reducing them.
Caffeine has a mild diuretic effect on the body. While 1 – 2 caffeinated drinks throughout the day generally cause no issues for most people, it could have negative effects if you’re more towards the five or more cups of tea a day. Drinks higher in caffeine include tea (not herbal teas), coffee and energy drinks. Excess sugar in these drinks can also disrupt our body’s water balance and contribute to blood sugar issues, affecting hormones that increase blocked pores and oily skin.
Unfortunately, there are a few ways alcohol can stand in the way of you achieving your skin goals. It contributes to dehydration by interfering with anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). Lower amounts of ADH increase water loss from the body – that’s why you have to keep going to the loo when you’ve had a few drinks. It also depletes vitamins needed for skin health and decreases immune function (you need a healthy immune system to regulate inflammation & wound healing within the skin).
Add in some electrolytes.
The best drink to have to stay hydrated is water. However, food and drinks rich in electrolytes can help increase water absorption into the cells. Electrolytes are essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, that help to regulate bodily fluids, and support nerve function and muscle health. Some signs that you may need electrolytes include:
- If you feel like you drink adequate amounts of water (around 1.5 – 2 litres a day) throughout the day but still feel dehydrated
- You struggle with muscle cramps or spasms
- You exercise or sweat a lot
- Irregular or fast heartbeat (always consult a doctor before supplementing with anything)
You can get electrolytes naturally from fruits and vegetables, as well as using salts such as sea salt, rock salt and Himalayan salt. These are superior to regular table salt as they are so high in minerals – but still, use salt in moderation as it can throw off your electrolyte balance.
My go-to herbal teas for clear skin.
As promised, here are my go-to drinks to help clear your skin. I love adding herbal teas into my (and my clients) diet because they are caffeine-free and have additional health benefits, as opposed to just plain water. Also, if you find it hard to drink water throughout the day, herbal teas can act as an alternative to juice (in some cases).
- Nettle – helps to promote liver and kidney health, helping your body remove toxins that can contribute to breakouts.
- Spearmint – helps to regulate testosterone levels that can contribute to acne and oily skin.
- Cinnamon – helps to balance blood sugar levels. High insulin levels can increase inflammation and disrupt hormonal balance, contributing to breakouts.
- Chamomile tea – is anti-inflammatory but also helps to calm the stress response. Having acne can be stressful, but stress can cause acne, so it can be beneficial to add in calming herbs.
- Ginger – helps to reduce inflammation within the body, and aids digestion.