Dermatologist-Reviewed Articles

The Secret to Healthy, Glowing Skin Is…Water? Dr. Murad Explains

Your cells are thirsty. This is the idea behind the Cellular Water Principle®, a revolutionary concept developed by world-renowned dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad (yep, he’s also the founder of Murad® skin care). The gist: Hydration doesn’t just happen at a surface level, but rather inside the very building blocks of your body—and this affects the way your skin looks on the outside. In this edition of our Doctor’s Office series, Dr. Murad breaks down the science behind his theory and shares how you can apply it for healthier, plumper skin.

jogging woman drinking water

Healthy, well-hydrated cells are the building blocks of every system in the body, from our skin to brains. Since cellular water, the water held within cells, is where the chemistry of life itself occurs, it should come as no surprise that hydration is essential to looking and feeling our best.

The Water Quest

Although my professional expertise is in dermatology, my interest in the role of water in the body really began with my passion for being out in nature. I love to hike and hated the fact that staying hydrated on the trail was a literal burden. I began to research ways to encourage the body to hold water in a healthy fashion. What I ultimately discovered was that the key to optimal hydration was maintaining higher concentrations of water within our cells where it does the most good.

Turning the Tide

When it comes to cellular hydration, time is not on our side. In fact, as we age our cells tend to have weaker membranes that can’t optimally regulate the amount of water held inside each cell. As evidence of the progress from hydration to dehydration, consider the fact that when we are babies approximately 75 percent of our bodies are water. By the time we reach middle age our bodies’ water content can be as low as 50 percent. And as with almost every change in overall health, age-related changes in hydration are evident when we examine our skin. While children rarely need a moisturizer, it seems no one over 30 can live without it.

The good news is that we can improve the strength and functionality of our cell membranes and reverse course on the march toward dehydration through some simple changes in how we live. Below are three tips on how to do just that.

1. Eat With Cellular Water in Mind

To fight cellular dehydration, job one is building better, strong cells with highly functional membranes. Eating a healthy, largely plant-based diet is an easy way to create a nutrient-rich environment within the body. Eating well gives us the building blocks we need to create strong cells. Job two is taking good care of those strong, new cells by adding antioxidant-rich foods and supplements to our diets to help reduce the impact of cell-damaging free radicals. Job three is minimizing exposure to things that we know can create cell-damaging free radicals: alcohol, cigarette smoke, pesticides and pollutants.

2. Shield Your Cells

Skin is the body’s first line of defense. Topical skin care products with powerful hydrating ingredients can support and enhance the skin’s barrier function—its ability to shield the skin’s living cells and the entire body from environmental damage and dehydration. Topical care should also include regular exfoliation to encourage healthy cell turnover. That turnover means surface layers will have a higher population of stronger, younger cells. Topical care with anti-inflammatories and antioxidants can also help to decrease the impact of assault from external free radicals. Last but not least, topical care for daytime should include strong sun protection to help reduce the risk of UV-related damage.

3. Say No to Stress

Chronic stress takes its toll on our bodies, and that damage is visible on the skin. Of course, that damage goes all the way down to the cellular level, where stress-induced free radicals lay siege to our cell membranes. So it’s no surprise that people who are constantly on the go and who never make time for themselves tend to suffer from cellular dehydration. By taking at least a little time each day to relax and do something enjoyable, we can start to break the cycle of stress damage and give a gift of health to every cell in our bodies.

Board-Certified Dermatologist, Founder of Murad Skin Care

Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD

Dr. Howard Murad is a world-renowned skin care expert, president of Murad® skin care and founder of the Inclusive Health® movement.