Water theory fails the test
For years it has been one of the most basic rules of beauty: If you want a clear, youthful complexion, you must drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
Various dermatologists have suggested that this theory just doesn't wash, insisting the only thing maintaining moisture levels in our skin is the outer layer of skin. But most beauty devotees remain convinced.
Recent research seemed to suggest the water lovers are right — and that certain types of water are better for you than others.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, female participants drank one and a half litres of water a day for eight weeks without changing any other element of their lifestyle.
Before and after
Some drank ordinary tap water. Others drank Willow Water, a natural mineral water sourced in the Lake District. It contains salicin, a derivative of willow bark which, when metabolised, turns into salicylic acid, an ingredient that is found in many skin products. It has anti-inflammatory properties and acts in the same way as aspirin.
Each woman had her picture taken before and after the trial using the latest, state-of-the-art Visia complexion analysis system, which examines the extent and depth of wrinkles, the texture of skin and the amount of sun damage.
Those who drank ordinary tap water saw a 19 per cent reduction in their wrinkles. Those who drank Willow Water saw a 24 per cent reduction.
It all sounds persuasive but is it really true? There's only one way to find out: Put it to the test.
I have my face analysed by Visia and embark on the Willow Water diet — 126 bottles of water, three a day for six weeks.
Drinking one and a half litres a day isn't that difficult and I even take them on holiday with me. I also eat more salad and fruit than usual. According to Dr Howard Murad, a US dermatologist and "inclusive health" expert, this increases our water intake and is vital for controlling the ageing process.
Just the opposite
Given all the fruit and salad I've consumed, this news puts me in a confident mood when I return to the Visia clinic.
The initial reading of the second image shows that my wrinkles are fractionally more extensive than before.
According to dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe, of the Cranley Clinic, West London, "The thing that maintains the skin's moisture levels is the skin barrier, which is the outermost layer. If that is intact, it will trap moisture to stop it being lost from the skin. The way to moisturise is not from the inside but from the outside.
When the before and the after images of my face are carefully examined by leading cosmetic aesthetician Dr Rita Rakus, she reckons there is a slight lessening of the wrinkles on my eyelids but I'm not convinced.
Peering closely at the images on the maximum magnification, I can see what she means but the difference is so small it could just be that I had a good night's sleep.
I had drunk 126 bottles of water to boost my skin and it hadn't made a drop of difference.