Summer hydration help is here!

As the days of summer warm and lengthen, we happily head outdoors to bask in the sun, frolic in the waves, and plunge into the pool. While all of this outdoor activity is generally great for our health, it also presents unique challenges for our skin—preventing sunburn and staying hydrated being two of them. Hydration, after all, is the cornerstone of healthy, vibrant skin, while sunburn is a severe dehydrator and damages the skin in other ways, as well. In addition, salt and chlorine are also drying, stripping away the skin’s natural moisture barrier. So how do we enjoy the outdoor adventures of summer and keep our radiant glow?

The ultimate cellular need: water

Water is essential to life: every cell in our body depends on it to function properly. From aiding digestion to regulating temperature, secreting waste, and maintaining blood pressure, water is essential for nearly every bodily process. And when it comes to our skin, water plays a particularly vital role.

Our skin is the body’s largest organ and acts as a protective barrier against environmental stressors. Proper hydration is crucial for maintaining the skin’s integrity and resilience. Water supports the skin’s natural barrier function, promotes elasticity, and helps prevent dryness and irritation.

Yet swimming can dry your skin

While water is indispensable for cellular health, it is important to recognize that water alone is not necessarily a moisturizer. This distinction is crucial for maintaining healthy skin, especially during the summer months when hydration needs are heightened.

Moisturizers work by creating a barrier on the skin’s surface to lock in moisture and prevent water loss. They often contain ingredients such as humectants, which attract and retain water, and emollients, which smooth and soften the skin. Simply applying water to the skin does not achieve the same effect. In fact, water is likely to evaporate quickly and leave the skin drier than before. In addition, the chlorinated water of swimming pools can irritate the skin, especially if your skin is sensitive or you have a condition such as eczema. Chlorinated water also adheres to the skin, meaning its effects linger even when you’ve dried off. That’s why it’s important to rinse with fresh water and soap as soon as possible after taking a dip in a pool and apply a moisturizing lotion after drying off.

Although saltwater is also drying to the skin, the vitamins and minerals (such as magnesium, potassium, and sulfur) in saltwater can be healing, especially for conditions such as acne. Nevertheless, you’ll want to rinse with fresh water as soon as possible afterwards and apply a soothing moisturizer.

Hydration from within

True cellular hydration begins from within. Drinking an adequate amount of water—and more importantly, eating an abundance of moisture-rich foods—is the best way to stay hydrated, not just in summer, but any time. Foods such as cucumbers, watermelon, oranges, and strawberries have high water content and help keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.

In addition, certain foods, particularly red, lycopene-containing foods such as watermelon, pomegranates, and tomatoes, actually increase the effectiveness of your topical sunscreen, thus, reducing the risk of sunburn. Murad even offers a supplement with 100% pomegranate extract to help you eat your sunscreen. Internal hydration helps maintain the skin’s suppleness and resilience, making it better equipped to handle the summer sun and heat.

You should also take care to limit your alcohol consumption while in the sun. Alcohol is a diuretic, causing your body to remove fluids from your blood through your kidneys, ureters, and bladder at a much quicker rate than other liquids. That’s why if you’re drinking alcohol while out in the sun, you should compensate with water and other liquids, as well as with moisture-rich fruits and vegetables.

Topical hydration strategies

To keep your skin hydrated and healthy during summer, consider these strategies:

  1. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen: Sunscreen not only protects against harmful UV rays but also prevents moisture loss caused by sun exposure. I prefer a mineral-based (such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide), over a chemical-based sunscreen.
  2. Choose the right moisturizer: Look for products containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or aloe vera, which help attract and retain moisture.
  3. Hydrating serums: Incorporate a hydrating serum into your skincare routine. Serums with active ingredients like hyaluronic acid can penetrate deeper layers of the skin for enhanced hydration.
  4. Hydrating masks: Use hydrating masks regularly to give your skin an extra boost of moisture and nutrients.
  5. Use a humidifier: Air conditioning can strip the air of moisture, leading to dry skin. A humidifier helps maintain optimal humidity levels in your home.

As we welcome summer, let’s not forget the profound impact water has on our health and beauty. Water is more than just a thirst quencher—it is a fundamental element for cellular function and skin health. By understanding the distinction between water as a necessity for cell function and the role of moisturizers in maintaining skin hydration, we can better prepare our skin for the sunny days ahead. Stay hydrated, both inside and out, and enjoy a summer of radiant, healthy skin.

P.S. And what if you DO get a sunburn? There’s a post for that! How to treat a sunburn – Dr. Howard Murad (

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