The Science of Skin Hydration: Why Moisture Matters

Written by: Brilliant Staff

Fact checked by: Heather Snead

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Your skin is your body's shield and protector against the outside world. It helps prevent wind, sun, and environmental threats to your body. However, this protective barrier needs to be adequately hydrated to function effectively.

Skin hydration might sound like a simple concept — keep your skin moisturized, and you're all set, right? Well, there's more to it! This article delves into the science of skin hydration, its effect on skin health, and tips for keeping your skin well moisturized.

Skin Hydration 101: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

The human skin barrier function has a high water content, which is essential for maintaining skin's elasticity, integrity, and strength. Hydration is the process of water moving in, out, and around the skin cells, providing essential nourishment and maintaining skin health.

The benefits of skin hydration are vast. It gives your skin a healthy glow and prevents skin problems like dryness, flakiness, and premature aging.

The Science Behind Skin Hydration

Our skin naturally produces substances that hold water. The most well-known are ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids, collectively known as Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMFs).

NMFs hold onto water molecules in the skin, preventing them from evaporating. This is a process termed transepidermal water loss, or TEWL. However, factors such as aging, cold weather, and harsh skincare products can directly impact NMFs, leading to a compromised skin barrier and dry, dehydrated skin.

How Hydration Impacts Skin Health

Beyond aesthetic purposes, skin hydration deeply affects overall skin health. Dehydrated skin appears dull, feels tight, and is more prone to irritation and sensitivity. In contrast, a well-hydrated skin barrier can better protect against environmental threats.

Tips for Keeping Your Skin Hydrated

While the human body naturally regulates skin hydration, adopting a few skincare habits can further help boost the process. Here are some beneficial practices:

  • Drink Plenty of Water: Water intake directly impacts skin hydration. Try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
  • Use Hydrating Skincare Products: Look for products that contain hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides that can boost your skin's natural hydration capabilities.
  • Avoid Harsh Regimens: Some products can strip your skin of its natural moisturizing factors. Avoid products with alcohol, and choose mild cleansers over harsh soaps.
  • Don’t Skip Sunscreen: Sun exposure can dehydrate your skin, leading to premature aging and a compromised skin barrier. Make sure you use a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher every day.
  • Consider the Air Around You: If your environment's air is dry, it can lead to quicker water loss from your skin. Consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.


In essence, skin hydration is crucial for a dewy complexion and overall skin health and well-being. By understanding the science behind skin hydration and making mindful skincare choices, you can ensure a healthy, glowing complexion.

And remember that every bit of water counts, so every time you hydrate, your skin thanks you!


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