Can my diet affect the moisture of my skin?

Eating foods high in fatty acids may help moisturize your skin.
Eating foods high in fatty acids may help moisturize your skin.
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If you struggle with dry skin, you may spend hours applying moisturizers. However, you may be surprised to learn that you can actually moisturize your skin from the inside out.

To achieve dewy, hydrated skin, you need to make sure you're getting enough fluids throughout the day. Drinking water is the best way to keep your fluid levels up, but eating fluid-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables and soup can also help. Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, on the other hand, actually cause you to lose fluids. Keeping your body hydrated not only improves your overall health, but it also helps your skin look younger and healthier. Water removes toxins in your system and helps your body retain important nutrients [sources: Barel, Kovacs].


Water and other fluids affect your overall hydration, but some foods specifically affect the moisture generated in your skin. Foods high in essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, help your skin produce more lipids that strengthen your skin cells. These lipid-bolstered cells also trap natural oils in your skin and help prevent dryness. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flaxseed oil, salmon and other fish, and those high in omega-6 fatty acids include corn and safflower oils [sources: Fries, Lowenstein]. If you don't eat fish, taking an omega-3 supplement, such as fish oil or flaxseed oil, can increase your essential fatty acid intake. Although no scientific studies have proved that such foods relieve dry skin, some studies suggest they may [source: Barel].

Studies also show that consuming foods high in vitamins B-2, B-6, B-12, C and E can help hydrate your skin and repair sun damage. Such vitamin-rich foods include citrus fruit, nuts, whole grains, broccoli, sunflower seeds, egg yolks and milk.

For more information on how diet affects your skin's moisture, check out the links on the next page.


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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Barel, Andr√© O., Marc Paye and Howard I. Maibach. "Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology, Third Edition." Informa Health Care. 2009 (Accessed 9/26/09)
  • Fries, Wendy C. "Dry Skin: Soothing the Itch in Winter." WebMD. October 17, 2008 (Accessed 9/26/09)
  • Griffin, R. Morgan. "What's Causing Your Dry Skin Problem?" WebMD. March 6, 2009 (Accessed 9/26/09)
  • Kovacs, Betty. "Which Foods Can Help Dry Skin?" MedicineNet. December 20, 2006 (Accessed 9/26/09)
  • Lowenstein, Kate. "Diet for Healthy Skin." Everyday Health. November 20, 2008 (Accessed 9/26/09)
  • Watson, Stephanie. "Beauty and Skin Care: Vitamins and Antioxidants." WebMD. September 30, 2009 (Accessed 10/12/09)