Does Drinking Water Help Acne?

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Acne is the most common type of skin condition; approximately 80% of people ages 11 to 30 will have at least one form of acne (from mild to severe).

If you have acne, you may have heard that drinking more water can help get rid of it, but there isn't scientific research to back up that claim. There is research, however, to support the benefits of hydrating your skin from the outside.

does drinking water help acne?

Francesco Carta fotografo / Getty Images

What Causes Acne?

Acne is a very common skin condition that causes pimples mostly on the face, forehead, chest, shoulders, and upper back. Acne involves pores in the skin that become blocked by hair, oil (called sebum), bacteria, and dead skin cells. Blackheads, whiteheads, nodules, and various other forms of pimples are formed as a result of the blocked pores.

Acne is thought to be caused and/or worsened by many different factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • A change in hormone levels (which is the reason acne often occurs during adolescence, when hormone levels fluctuate)
  • Stress (which increases levels of cortisol)
  • The use of pore-clogging skincare products (such as those high in oil or grease)
  • Using personal care products that are greasy (such as hair pomades and waxes)
  • Some types of medications (such as prednisone)
  • Foods that are high on the glycemic index (a rating of how specific foods, such as carbohydrates, raise blood sugar) and dairy products
  • Environmental factors (such as working around certain industrial products)
  • Hormone fluctuation during menstruation
  • Wearing hats, helmets, and other headgear
  • Picking at acne sores
  • Air pollution
  • High humidity
  • Working in some environments (such as at a restaurant, around fried, greasy foods)

How Does Water Affect Skin?

The skin is not always recognized for what it is, namely, the largest organ of the body. Just like any other organ, the skin is composed of cells, and cells are made up primarily of water.

When the skin is well hydrated from the outside, it helps to combat dryness. When skin is dry, it has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling.

In addition, dry skin causes the pores to break open easily; this allows acne-causing bacteria to go deeper into the skin, worsening acne.

Keeping the skin moist, without applying pore-clogging, oily skin products, is an important step in acne treatment.

Hydration

An interesting fact about water and the skin is that the body will provide the water we drink to all other organs before it hydrates the skin, so applying moisturizing products to your skin can help provide extra moisture from the outside.

There are many cosmetic products available today that help keep the skin hydrated without clogging the pores, such as:

  • Ceramide cream: A study compared ceramide cream to three different moisturizers; after one application, the ceramide cream resulted in a significant increase in skin hydration and improved barrier function, making it a good option for use on dry skin. It was also found to be nonirritating to the eyes and skin in adults and children.
  • Hyaluronic acid: This should be applied before skin moisturizer. It holds as much as 1,000 times its weight in water, promoting the attraction of water to the skin and keeping it there.

Commercial Skin Moisturizers

Many commercial moisturizing products, such as topical vitamin formulas, products with antioxidants, and occlusive moisturizers (such as beeswax products), do not have enough clinical research data to back their effectiveness in moisturizing the skin.

Tips for properly applying skin moisturizers and improving skin hydration include:

  • Apply moisturizers while the skin is moist (such as within two minutes after a bath or shower). This allows for better absorption because the skin is still porous.
  • Some products (such as those containing hyaluronic acid) should be applied before a moisturizer to help attract water. Hydrating B5 Gel is an example of one such product containing hyaluronic acid.

Does Drinking Water Help Acne?

Studies show that staying hydrated helps improve the body’s overall immune cell response.

The immune system fights harmful bacteria that contribute to acne and pimples. More specifically, a bacteria strain called C. acnes (Cutibacterium acnes, formerly called Propionibacterium acnes) is thought to play a role in the development of acne vulgaris. Acne vulgaris is the most common type of acne; it is linked with hormone fluctuations.

There is no definitive research supporting the claim that drinking water will clear up acne.

A Word From Verywell

Keep in mind that many products known to help hydrate the skin offer a specific product designed to treat acne. But be sure to talk to your dermatologist before using any type of skincare product for the treatment of acne.

Was this page helpful?
6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Acne. Updated September 1, 2020.

  2. Ismail NH, Manaf ZA, Azizan NZ. High glycemic load diet, milk, and ice cream consumption are related to acne vulgaris in Malaysian young adults: a case control study. BMC Dermatol. 2012;12(1):13. doi:10.1186/1471-5945-12-13 

  3. UW Health. The benefits of drinking water for your skin.

  4. Spada, F., Barnes, T., and Greive, K. Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin’s natural moisturizing systems, October 2018 Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology Volume 11:491-49. doi:10.2147/CCID.S177697

  5. Chishaki T, Umeda T, Takahashi I, et al. Effects of dehydration on immune functions after a judo practice sessionLuminescence. 2013;28(2):114-120. doi:10.1002/bio.2349

  6. McLaughlin J, Watterson S, Layton AM, Bjourson AJ, Barnard E, McDowell A. Propionibacterium acnes and acne vulgaris: new insights from the integration of population genetic, multi-omic, biochemical and host-microbe studiesMicroorganisms. 2019;7(5):128. doi:10.3390/microorganisms7050128