The Skin We Inhabit

Words: Patrícia Domingues

Want to know the latest great skincare trend? The one that helps eliminate toxins from the body and maintain elasticity and hydration? You see that big glass of water that’s been sitting on your desk for a good couple of hours? You can stop adding creams to your cart and drink it. You’re looking at your primary source of youthfulness.

Drinking water changes lives. I know, I know, this statement is a little bit like flowers in the spring. But I’m not talking about a ground-breaking change, but rather those small adjustments we make to improve our day-to-day life. Do you have the internet? Then you’ve probably been included in the “algorithm” by the millions of viral videos about “what I eat in a day” that inadvertently start with a glass of water (many of them accompanied by a few drops of lemon) and which are presented as the elixir for a new “you”. Apparently, drinking water also turns us into the most beautiful people on the planet: a quick search on any fashion and beauty media and 99.9% of interviews with beauty tips start with the most affordable recommendation of all (and probably the only affordable one): drink water. Doctors always told us, our mothers insisted, meditation apps advise — and really, the more we grow up, the more we return to basics. In 2021, The New York Times reported that “we were all obsessed with hydration”, and I admit: almost nothing these days gives me a sense of accomplishment as much as clear and transparent urine. It’s a bit like what Cardi B tweeted back in 2016, long before water became trendy: “I feel all problems can be solved with water. Want to lose weight? Drink water. Want clear skin? Drink water. Sick of your man? Drown him”.

All joking apart, there is some truth to that. Speaking about the importance of water for the skin, dermatologist Rita Travassos says: “Water is the main component of cells and tissues, it is one of the main elements of body fluid compartments and represents 75% and 60% (since birth and in adulthood, respectively) of body composition, playing a fundamental role in physiological balance”. But “just” maintaining our body’s water levels may seem like a drop in the ocean. Sometimes the result is completely clean skin. Other times it’s just more frequent trips to the bathroom. It’s a half-full glass: it’s not enough to just carry a water bottle around to ensure we drink our sacred 1.5L (and mind you, WHO recommends between 1.5 and 3L and the FDA suggests 2.7 to 3.7L per day). Even then, we’re not guaranteed that our efforts will result in a radiant and healthy-looking complexion. “It is known that the cutaneous water content plays an important role in different skin functions, and water deficiency is associated with various dermatological disorders. However, a direct relationship between these properties and regular water consumption in the diet has not been clearly demonstrated”, adds the specialist. Still, signs like dry skin (with more evident wrinkles), loss of skin elasticity, prominent dark circles and shadows around the eyes and a dry mouth are common signs of dehydration that we ought to be aware of — it is our body’s way of warning us. On the list of things to do to keep the skin hydrated and not miss any of the warning signs are the temperature of the water — warm instead of hot; limit your time in the shower to 5 or 10 minutes; avoid excessively perfumed cleansing products; dry your skin gently with a towel and apply moisturiser immediately when dry. Already rushing to the creams’ shelf? Hold your horses, there’s more.

Introduction to Shopping

From the inside out

It’s not enough to just add water to hydrate the skin: the key to healthy skin consists of the ingredients that retain the water inside without letting it escape afterwards (my precious). To maintain proper hydration (and let’s be honest, to make our lives easier), Rita Travassos has created a sort of checklist to follow.

1. It’s possible to attract water to the skin through ingredients that act like a “sponge”, such as humectants (like hyaluronic acid and glycerine)

2. To restore the skin barrier and smooth the skin, look for emollients (composed of lipids and oils)

3. These should form a waterproof “protective seal” that will prevent the loss of all the water that’s been recruited with occlusives (e.g. dimethicone, lanolin)

4. To ensure adequate hydration in your daily routine, look for products that contain ingredients such as: Hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, petroleum jelly, glycerine, dimethicone, lanolin, ceramides, stearic acid, shea butter and jojoba oil

5. If your skin feels dry, flaky and irritated, then you should avoid retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acids, vitamin A derivatives and excessive exfoliation

Unii (Organii)

Floral water, €10.50

She believed she could, so she did — and in this case, she did it twice. With the goal of changing the beauty industry, Unii was born from the desire of two sisters to produce the purest line of high-quality cosmetic products at affordable prices. Made with natural and organic ingredients, Unii products are created using artisanal techniques without pre-made cosmetic bases. With a strict selection of ingredients, the brand is certified as organic, vegan and zero waste. From their product range, which includes haircare and oral hygiene, we highlight this refreshing floral water with toning effects. Besides calming inflammations such as wounds and burns, it leaves the skin feeling soft, maintains hydration and tightens pores (which is why it also works as an excellent makeup fixative).


Watermelon Essence, €14

It is a common story that brings life to many beginnings — due to the lack of 100% natural and organic products on the market, Mafalda Pinto Leite created her own. At first, she kept them to herself; then she couldn’t help but share them with the many women who don’t want to compromise on the results or their health in order to take care of their beauty. The success of the brand (and the huge range) is there to prove it — like the Watermelon Essence. A refreshing tonic, rich in vitamin C and natural antioxidants, for a more even and blemish-free skin. In addition to rejuvenating, refreshing and softening the skin (especially when it is more irritated and inflamed, or even burned by exposure to the sun), this essence helps retain hydration and offers long-lasting nutrition.


Colognes Extraordinaires, €45

Benamôr was founded in Lisbon in 1925 by a mysterious apothecary who created miraculous ointments in his laboratory at 189 Campo Grande — and to whom we only want to say a great big “thank you”. With its sustainable approach and the use of natural ingredients to create unique products, if their ranges enable us to age as gracefully as the brand (which even has elegantly timeless packaging), then it can count on our loyalty. Just look at the seductive premise of their colognes. Inspired by a stroll through Lisbon’s Botanical Garden, which was established by the royal family in 1768, this collection of five scents portrays the essence of freshly-picked fruits and flowers under the golden rays of the typical Portuguese sun. With a very high perfume concentration (10% compared to 4–6% in a classic Eau de Cologne), these fragrances contain a long-lasting freshness, prolonging the stroll through the Botanical Garden for as long as you want.


Ageing Well Vegan Facial Cream, €12.50 

If we care so much about what we eat — that it’s natural, organic and healthy — why don’t we also worry about nourishing the largest organ in the body, our skin? With this question in mind, Estíbaliz created LUR, an organic cosmetics brand in which each of the formulas’ ingredients was included for a reason. Like in this vegan facial cream: its combination of oils (argan, pomegranate, apricot, jojoba, almond, mango butter), plant extracts (açaí, goji) and active ingredients form a nourishing cream that is absorbed quickly, combating the process of cellular and oxidative ageing and reconstructing the skin’s structure. Containing hyaluronic acid, it retains large amounts of water, maintaining proper skin hydration. It’s got our mouths watering.


Facial tonic with organic grape floral water, € 17.85

The best of both worlds and a desire to do differently (with a breathtaking view): DVINE was born from the junction between science and nature, inspired by the Douro. Focused on the youthfulness of the skin, it offers products based on the sustainability of organic cosmetics with an exclusive fragrance obtained from Port Wine, transforming any beauty routine into a unique sensory experience (you just can’t toast). Like this Facial Tonic with Organic Grape Floral Water, which is both aromatic and refreshing. It is fortified with the natural properties of organic white mulberry extract to brighten and lighten the skin. With extracts of cucumber, linden flower and chamomile that balance and purify. And with soothing allantoin, it removes impurities from the skin’s surface that resist the first step of cleansing.


Dynamic Eye Complex, €117

“Ignae” means “on fire”: a reference to the volcanic thermal water from the Azores that is present in all their products. With a natural laboratory at its disposal (which the brand strives to preserve), Ignae uses the ingredients found in the archipelago’s special ecosystem to create performance-focused skincare. Mentioned by all the top beauty media outlets in the world, it has graced the faces of well-known public figures and accumulated likes from beauty experts. User reviews expressing love for the brand are proof of the passion that it generates, and this is particularly due to the results obtained, as seen in the case of their famous eye cream. Formulated with a complete complex combining high-performance peptides that are designed specifically to reduce the appearance of dark circles and diminish fine lines and wrinkles with a firming effect, Dynamic Eye Complex acts as an all-in-one product — both a cream and serum treatment to help regenerate the entire eye area, leaving it visibly smoother and with a more youthful appearance.


Hyaluronic Acid Serum, €34

You may not yet associate this name with anything other than the bamboo toothbrush that burst onto the market in 2017, but this Portuguese brand has other green cards up its sleeve. With products for face, body, hair and oral hygiene, the brand that came about with the birth of its three partners’ children continues to work to make this world a better place. Now, it is launching a line of serums for different facial skin needs, all handmade in Portugal using natural and locally-sourced ingredients. The Hyaluronic Acid Serum, for example, offers intense skin hydration, repairing its hydration barrier, leaving it brighter and preventing the appearance of wrinkles, while also offering greater skin elasticity and accelerating the healing process.

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