The TikTok Trick That Actually Helps Determine Your Level Of Hydration

You may have noticed: water has become a coveted thing. Mostly served by previous generations at mealtime only — and maybe in a glass on a nightstand before bedtime — many people now sip water all day long.

They wouldn't dream of going to work without water, driving even short distances without water, shopping without water, or certainly exercising without water. So dedicated are they to the virtues of H2O that if you gently suggest they may be overdoing it, they will say they must stay hydrated. At this point, you have to give credit where credit is due: their reasons are many, and they are persuasive. Among other things, staying properly hydrated can "regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly," the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University notes. 

Water also protects the spinal cord, makes digestion easier, improves the circulation of blood oxygen, boosts energy, keeps your mind sharp and your skin bright, and ushers waste out of the body, Healthline adds. It also gets the vote of most people for being the best at quenching thirst. But how does one know their actual level of hydration? As it turns out, TikTok may have a helping hand here.

Elasticity says a lot about hydration

They are helping to fan the resurgence in everything from physicians extolling the virtues of water to TikTok videos, like one uploaded by @Dr.karanr, that encourage people of all ages to take the "skin pinch test." Also known as the skin turgor test, the skin pinch test measures skin's elasticity, or its ability to stretch. Skin that is hydrated stretches easily. A skin pinch test comes into play by gauging the "ability of skin to change shape and return to normal," MedlinePlus says. As far as water enthusiasts are concerned, the test is a "fast and uncomplicated way to know if you need more water," Health says.

Many TikTokers appear to prefer performing the skin test on the knuckles of one finger. MedlinePlus suggests grabbing skin on the lower arm or abdomen. Some physicians, meanwhile, use skin on the back of the hand. Regardless of exactly where the test is performed, the basic test is conducted the same way. And you can do it yourself: grab skin between two fingers until it lifts up. Hold the skin like this for a few seconds before releasing it. Skin that snaps back to its original position quickly is elastic and likely well-hydrated. But skin that takes a while to return to its normal position is less elastic, meaning it has poor turgor. This means the skin may be poorly hydrated. 

Watch for dehydration symptoms

Most people seem to know that the human body cannot survive without water. In fact, it functions as a literal reservoir to keep cells and blood vessels working as they should, requiring a capacity of 75% water to remain hydrated (via Medical News Today). Of course, this number fluctuates as people sweat, urinate, and even breathe. Keeping it in balance is the body's natural thirst trigger, which causes people to reach for liquids when the reservoir seems to be running low.

So, how much water should people drink every day? The Mayo Clinic says that adults probably drink enough water as long as their urine is no brighter than light yellow and they rarely feel thirsty. Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health is more specific, recommending that women drink 11 cups of water a day while men drink 16. The parties seem to agree, though, that looking out for the signs of dehydration is important. The Cleveland Clinic says these signs include confusion, constipation, dark urine, dry mouth, fatigue, headache, and infrequent urination.

It's worth noting that dehydration can be sneaky. Thirst doesn't always accompany dehydration, especially in older adults. This is why healthcare professionals recommend that people of all ages drink more water when they feel ill or spend long periods of time in warm or humid weather. As a backup, it may help to know that there is a skin pinch test.