Dehydration: Your Guide to Recognizing and Replenishing Water Loss
Despite all the apps and pretty water bottles designed to make sure we’re drinking enough water, it’s actually surprisingly easy to slip into a state of dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when the body is losing more fluid than it can adequately replace. While losing a bit of water each day is totally normal, when the amount of water dips too low for normal body functions, dehydration occurs.
Signs of Dehydration
Be on the lookout for these common signs of dehydration, which can occur with even the slightest imbalance in water reserves.
- Dry mouth. Saliva is 99% water, so a dry, sticky, cotton mouth may be one of the first indicators of dehydration.
- Muscle fatigue. Being made up of mostly water, muscle tissues are more easily fatigued when the body’s short on water.
- Headaches, dizziness or disorientation. Less water in the body means less blood circulation, leading to reduced oxygen flow to the brain. Dehydration can even cause the brain to shrink to hold on to its fluids, leading to headache-like pain.
- Irritability and lethargy. Hanger is real, and though we don’t yet have a word for mood swings caused by dehydration, studies have shown a lack of water makes individuals feel anxious, tense and tired – even when rested.
- Darker urine. The proof is in the pee, y’all. In general, the lighter the color of your urine, the more hydrated you are. Clear, pale or lemonade colored urine is what we’re going for. If it’s darker, urine for some serious hydration. Ha!
Dehydration and the Skin
It’s easy to understand the negative impact of dehydration on our overall health, but a lack of water in the body also has the potential to wreak visible havoc on our faces. When we’re dehydrated, our body does whatever it can to hold onto its precious water reserves – including ganking it from certain places in order to fuel others. And one of the first places to be robbed is the skin.
First things first: dehydrated skin is not dry skin. In a nutshell, dryness refers to a skin type that inherently produces less oil, where dehydrated skin is a temporary condition in which the skin does not have enough water.
How can you tell the difference? Dehydrated skin feels tight, looks dull or grey in the mirror and exaggerates things like fine lines, wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes. A good test is gently pinching the skin of the cheek: if it’s wrinkling instead of holding its shape, your skin cells are thirsty.
While dry skin is mostly determined by genetics, dehydrated skin is a temporary state that can be corrected relatively easily.
Your Hydration Action Plan
- Drink Water. It might seem obvious, but the easiest way to avoid dehydration is to drink water before that thirsty feeling even hits. Stay ahead of dehydration by getting plenty of fluids each day. Though we’re all different folks with different hydration needs, drinking around 2 liters of water a day is a good rule of thumb.
- Eat Water. Roughly 20% of our daily water intake comes from solid foods, with fruits and vegetables contributing the most water to our diet. Incorporating water-rich foods like watermelon, cucumbers, strawberries and celery are a great way to stay hydrated while nourishing the body with fiber and nutrients.
- Avoid Thirst Traps. Dehydrated skin is most commonly caused by external factors like environment, weather, and diet. If you’re feeling the thirst, help your body hold on to its agua by avoiding caffeine, alcohol or excessive exercise until your body recuperates. Keeping a humidifier nearby is another option to prevent the skin from releasing moisture to the air.
- Exfoliate. You might wonder what exfoliation has to do with dehydration, but it’s actually one of the first steps in maintaining healthy, hydrated skin. A build-up of dead skin gets in the way of moisture absorption, so it’s important to keep a clean slate. We use Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Enzyme Exfoliating Mask once a week to remove sloughed off skin and keep it primed to receive moisture.
- Try a Sheet Mask. A sheet mask against dehydrated skin is the skincare equivalent of chugging water while hooked up to an electrolyte IV. We love Orgaid’s Greek Yogurt Nourishing Sheet Mask when our skin is extra thirsty. With organic aloe vera pulling water into the skin and vegetable glycerin sealing it in, we’ve been known to wear this one around the house until its literally falling off.
Looking for more tips on how to keep skin hydrated and healthy this winter?
Check out some of our other suggestions here and happy hydrating!