Does Drinking Water Help Acne?


Acne is one of the most common skin conditions, affecting millions of people worldwide. It can be embarrassing and frustrating to deal with. Many people wonder if simply drinking more water can help clear up acne.

In this article, we'll dive into the science behind drinking water and acne. We'll look at the potential benefits and drawbacks of increasing your water intake for acne relief.

Does Drinking Water Help Acne

How Is Acne Formed?

Before we look at how water intake affects acne, let's first understand what causes acne in the first place.

Acne forms when dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria clog up your pores. This leads to lesions like whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cysts. There are four main factors that contribute to acne:

  • Excess oil production - Your sebaceous glands produce an oily substance called sebum. When too much sebum is produced, the excess can get trapped in pores.
  • Clogged pores - Dead skin cells that aren't shed properly can stick together and clog pores. This traps sebum and allows bacteria to grow.
  • Bacteria - A bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) lives on everyone's skin. In large numbers, it can cause inflammation and worsen breakouts.
  • Inflammation - Acne lesions are considered inflammatory when the area becomes red and swollen. This is often caused by a localized immune response.

Hormones, genetics, and certain medications can all affect these underlying factors and cause acne flare-ups.

Now let's look at how staying hydrated might help prevent some of these issues.

Can Drinking More Water Help Prevent Acne?

There are a few reasons why increasing your water intake may potentially help alleviate acne:

1. It Helps Flush Out Toxins

Your kidneys and liver are responsible for filtering waste and toxins out of your body. Staying hydrated supports their function and helps them efficiently remove toxins through urination and bowel movements.

Some toxins that contribute to acne include:

  • Pollution and chemicals from the environment
  • Hormones like testosterone and insulin
  • Inflammatory proteins

By flushing these acne-triggers out of your system, drinking water could theoretically help prevent breakouts.

2. It Moisturizes Skin From Within

Dehydrated skin is more prone to dryness, irritation, and acne. Drinking plenty of water helps keep your skin cells plump and hydrated from the inside out. This protects your skin's moisture barrier.

Well-hydrated skin may be less likely to overproduce oil as a reactive response. Keeping your skin calm and balanced can prevent clogged pores and acne.

3. It May Regulate Sebum Production

Some sources claim water intake affects sebum production and reduces excess oil. Sebum is the oily substance secreted by sebaceous glands to lubricate and waterproof the skin.

Unfortunately, there is limited research on how hydration status truly impacts sebum production and more studies are needed.

4. It Promotes Circulation

Drinking adequate water supports healthy blood flow and circulation. Improved circulation ensures delivery of oxygen and nutrients to skin tissues.

This helps your skin cells function optimally and may protect against irritation, inflammation, and acne.

So in theory, upping your water intake could provide multiple benefits for clear skin. But is the evidence strong enough to confirm this?

Is There Solid Proof That Water Helps Acne?

Despite the theoretical benefits, there is currently limited direct evidence that higher water consumption reduces acne.

Most claims are based on anecdotal reports. Very few clinical studies have been done looking specifically at water intake and acne.

Here is a quick summary of the existing research:

  • A small study in 2001 found acne patients drank less water compared to those without acne. However, this doesn't prove dehydration causes acne.
  • A 2002 study looked at Chinese teenagers in Beijing. They found individuals who drank more soda tended to have more acne. Soda intake wasn’t directly compared to water consumption.
  • A 2019 literature review concluded there was "insufficient evidence for alteration of fluid intake to treat acne."

So while increasing your water intake likely won't hurt, there isn't solid proof it will actively reduce breakouts. There are also some potential downsides to consider.

Possible Drawbacks of Drinking More Water

Before you go chugging gallons of water a day for clear skin, be aware that overdoing it can backfire in some cases.

Here are a few potential drawbacks of excessive water intake:

  • Electrolyte imbalance - Drinking too much water dilutes sodium and other electrolytes in your blood. This can lead to low sodium, potassium, and other issues.
  • Kidney strain - Processing huge amounts of water daily places strain on your kidneys and makes them work overtime.
  • False sense of accomplishment - Solely drinking more water distracts from proven acne treatments like skincare, nutrition, and medication.
  • Constant bathroom trips - Excessive urination and disruptions to daily life.
  • Water intoxication - While rare, drinking excessive amounts of water quickly can dangerously alter electrolyte levels.

The key is moderation. Make sure you stay hydrated without going overboard.

How Much Water Should You Drink for Acne?

There are no specific water intake guidelines for acne relief. General health recommendations suggest the average person drink:

  • Women - Around 11 cups (2.7 liters) of total fluids per day
  • Men - Around 15 cups (3.7 liters) per day

This will vary based on your age, activity level, health status, and climate. The "8 cups a day" rule isn't backed by science.

Let your thirst guide you. Drink enough water so that you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is light yellow. Dark urine usually signals dehydration.

Tips For Staying Hydrated

Here are some quick tips to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day:

  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you for easy sipping.
  • Choose water over sugary drinks whenever possible.
  • Eat hydrating fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, oranges, strawberries.
  • Add slices of lemon, lime, or cucumber to your water for flavor.
  • Set a phone reminder to drink water at regular intervals.
  • Drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up.
  • Have a glass before and after exercise.
  • Drink water before, during, and after alcohol to prevent dehydration.

Let your body and thirst levels guide how much water you need rather than forcing yourself to drink excessive amounts. Mild dehydration is the biggest concern for most people rather than over-hydration.

Should You Give Up Drinking Water for Acne Altogether?

No, doing so would be extremely unhealthy.

Water makes up 60% of your body weight. It's essential for every system in your body to function properly. Severe dehydration can lead to organ failure, seizures, and even death.

Plus, there's no evidence that reducing water intake improves acne. Avoid severely restricting your fluid intake in hopes of fixing breakouts.

However, you may want to avoid just plain water right before major events if it causes temporary bloating or puffiness for you. Drink normal amounts at all other times.


While increasing your water consumption likely won't hurt, there is limited evidence it significantly improves acne. Drinking sufficient water is more important for overall health than clearing your skin.

You're better off focusing on proven dietary and lifestyle factors that impact acne:

  • Cut back on dairy and high-glycemic foods - These spike blood sugar and stimulate acne-causing hormones.
  • Take a probiotic supplement - This balances gut bacteria tied to skin health.
  • Manage stress levels - High stress increases inflammation, hormones, and acne risk.
  • Get enough sleep - Lack of sleep is linked to increased sebum production and breakouts.
  • Wash your face twice a day - Use a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser suitable for acne-prone skin.
  • Use acne medication - Prescription options like retinoids, antibiotics, and birth control can treat the root causes of breakouts.

While staying hydrated is healthy, no need to chug excessive water expecting it to be a magic cure for acne. Take a holistic approach for clear skin instead.

Frequently Asked Questions About Drinking Water and Acne

What are some signs you may not be drinking enough water?

Some signs of mild dehydration include dry mouth, fatigue, headache, dizziness, constipation, dark yellow urine, and skin flaking. Severe dehydration requires immediate medical treatment but early signs are excessive thirst, sticky mouth, lack of tears, sunken eyes, and inability to sweat or urinate.

Does the temperature of the water you drink matter?

No, there is no evidence that drinking cold or hot water impacts acne in any way. Drink whatever temperature you find most palatable. One exception is to avoid very hot or boiling water which can damage your mouth and throat.

Should you drink mineral water or filtered water for acne?

There is no research showing mineral water or filtered water is better than regular tap water for acne. Tap water in most developed countries is fine. Bottled mineral water likely won't provide added benefits but won't hurt.

Is it bad to drink water right before you eat a meal?

Drinking water directly before meals can temporarily make you feel fuller which may cause you to eat less. This is not harmful for most people. However, those with gastro issues like acid reflux may want to avoid large water intake 30-60 minutes before eating to prevent symptoms.

Does the type of water bottle matter for skin health?

Glass or stainless steel bottles are best to avoid chemicals from plastic leaching into your water, especially with reuse. Never drink from plastic bottles left in a hot car. Ultimately there is no perfect bottle. Focus on drinking enough water rather than stressing about the container.

Should you drink electrolyte water for acne?

For most healthy individuals, plain water is fine and additional electrolytes from sports drinks aren't necessary. But if you engage in prolonged, vigorous activity causing heavy sweating, sports drinks can replace lost electrolytes. Just avoid drinks high in sugar.

Does lemon water help acne?

Lemon water may help by providing vitamin C, an antioxidant. But its benefits are minimal compared to proven dietary changes. Lemon water is safe as long as you brush your teeth afterwards or use a straw. The acidity can damage tooth enamel long-term.

Will drinking water exaggerate water retention and puffiness?

For most people, adequate water intake does not cause visible water retention. Drink based on your thirst. Those with heart, liver, or kidney problems may need to moderate water intake due to fluid retention risk. Check with your doctor.

Will drinking hot water in the morning help my skin?

Drinking hot water may offer relief if you have congestion or cold symptoms. It won't directly benefit acne. Any form of plain water in the morning helps hydrate you after sleep. Avoid scalding hot temperatures.

Is it true drinking water dilutes stomach acid?

This is false. Water passes through your stomach too quickly to impact acidity. Large amounts may temporarily create feelings of fullness or acid reflux in prone people. Those with acid issues should drink water between meals, not during.

Can drinking different types of tea help hydrate your skin?

Tea can contribute to your daily fluid intake and provides antioxidants beneficial for health. But tea contains caffeine which acts as a natural diuretic, removing some water from your body. Opt for decaffeinated varieties if you want the hydration benefits.

How long does it take to see results from increasing water intake?

There is limited evidence drinking more water clears acne. Any minor benefits would likely take weeks to appear. Focus on proven dietary changes, skincare, and medication rather than solely increasing water intake and waiting for acne to disappear. Be patient.

The key is not obsessively forcing water intake but staying reasonably hydrated as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Work with a dermatologist to find an acne treatment plan that fits your needs.

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