The days are getting cooler here in the southern hemisphere as we approach winter, and with the colder weather brings dryer, flaking skin. As much as we love finally being able to rock a coat in Australia, winter can definitely do a number on our skin.


During winter, there is higher trans epidermal water loss (TEWL). TEWL is a super crucial factor in our skin barrier that when low is associated with healthier skin. Essentially, TEWL is the quantity of water lost through crossing the skin barriers into the external environment.


There are thousands of moisturising products on the market that claim to hydrate skin. And of course are our saviours at this time of year. However, there are certain nutrients we can prioritise in our diets that can help boost the hydration of our skin.


Omega 3s


The omega 3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). When associated with skin health, it is both the fats and oils present in these fatty acids that can have the most beneficial effect.


The outer layer of the skin called the stratum corneum maintains its hydration through lipids (fats) that form a barrier to TEWL, they increase the integrity of our skin. One study found that daily consumption of flaxseed oil – rich in ALA – showed improvements in decreasing TEWL, increasing hydration and improving skin scaling in females over a 12-week period. This is due to an increased level of omega 3s found in serum and stratum corneum which becomes available for the skin to use in combating dehydration.


Other than flaxseed oil, foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids include walnuts, oily fish like salmon and tuna, hempseeds, chia seeds, and also some supplements such as cod liver oil and fish oils.




Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the skin as it is a major component of the extracellular matrix – a network of structural proteins and molecules that provide the support and structure to our skin. So how has this got to do with skin hydration?


The extracellular matrix is the site that actually retains the water in our skin, and without a proper, tight structure hydration can be lost. And as collagen formation actually declines as we age, this givess even more of a reason to support our bodies collagen levels and formation.


Collagen can be found in foods such as bone broths and gelatin gummies however it is probably best to be ensuring you’re consuming enough high-protein foods that contain the amino acids needed to make collagen. These include most protein rich foods such as legumes, nuts and seeds, poultry, eggs, meat and fish.


Hydrating Foods & Getting Enough Water


This one may seem a little more obvious but may be harder to achieve than you think. Unlike summer, our thirst and need for water can decrease in winter due to less sweating and environmental heat. However, it is just as important to keep up your body’s hydration levels.


We’ve all heard that the body is around 60% water. Water helps our bodies maintain volume – such as in our skin’s extracellular matrix – and of course avoid dehydration, which is much more life-threatening than just feeling extremely thirsty. Some studies even state that most people do not meet the requirements for daily water needs through both their food and beverage intakes. This is usually a case of water not being at the top of people’s priorities in comparison to other essential nutrients.


The total water intakes set for Australians is 3.4L/day for men and 2.8L/day for women which includes water from both fluids and foods. Super hydrating foods include fruits and vegetables that are ‘juicy’ and ‘cooling’ – think tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, berries, zucchinis, oranges.


Vitamin C


It would be rude not to include vitamin C when talking about nutrients for our skin. Although vitamin C indirectly effects our skins hydration, it is still important for preventing dry skin.


The main role vitamin C plays in skin hydration is its influence in collagen synthesis and formation. It is responsible for donating electrons to certain enzymes that convert amino acids – proline and lysine – to hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, a process known as hydroxylation. Hydroxylation essentially converts these amino acids to collagen. Because without collagen, the skins’ ability to hold water becomes impaired as the tight structure is lost.


Leaning into vitamin C rich foods in winter such as tomato rich soups, warm berries over porridge and sauteed greens like broccoli and kale alongside protein are enticing and delicious ways to boost your vitamin C during the winter months.


Another great way to increase your skin hydration this winter is to consider a collagen supplement. Active Collagen All-In-One Hair Skin & Nails contains a bioactive formulation of hydrolysed collagen peptides with a hint of vanilla which is absolutely divine mixed into your daily hot beverage, whether that’s your coffee in the morning or hot chocolate at night. Although external help from moisturisers and oils can be lifesaving during winter, boosting your bodies hydration from within will also do wonders for your skin.


Akdeniz, M., Gabriel, S., Lichterfeld-Kottner, A., Blume-Peytavi, U., & Kottner, J. (2018). Transepidermal water loss in healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis update. The British journal of dermatology179(5), 1049–1055.


Parke, M. A., Perez-Sanchez, A., Zamil, D. H., & Katta, R. (2021). Diet and Skin Barrier: The Role of Dietary Interventions on Skin Barrier Function. Dermatology practical & conceptual11(1), e2021132.


Bolke, L., Schlippe, G., Gerß, J., & Voss, W. (2019). A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients11(10), 2494.


Verdier-Sévrain, S., & Bonté, F. (2007). Skin hydration: a review on its molecular mechanisms. Journal of cosmetic dermatology6(2), 75–82.


Palma, L., Marques, L. T., Bujan, J., & Rodrigues, L. M. (2015). Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology8, 413–421.


National Health and Medical Research Council. (2006). Water. Nutrient Reference Values.


Michalak, M., Pierzak, M., Kręcisz, B., & Suliga, E. (2021). Bioactive Compounds for Skin Health: A Review. Nutrients13(1), 203.

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