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Hello, dear readers 🙂
As you know, we all evolve in our thinking as new information changes our opinion on various topics. I have recently come across information that has changed my views on the use of water in skin care formulations.
When I was researching for the article – How to Choose the Best Organic Cleanser for Your Skin Type – I came across information about how water is “just a filler.” I learned that it is better to avoid products with water as their first ingredient, because water takes up about 75% of a product, meaning there is less room for active ingredients.
I have since learned about the benefits of water in skin care, and I wanted to share them here with you. Is water just an inactive filler, a useless ingredient that dilutes the beneficial ingredients? Or does it have a purpose?
I have been in touch with Jessica, the founder of the Canadian organic skin care brand, Cocoon Apothecary, to talk about water’s benefits in skin care products.
Why use water in skin care?
“There are different reasons depending on what kind of product we’re talking about. Let’s focus on moisturizers. An emulsion delivers water to the skin and raises hydration levels because the oil and water molecules are bound together. An oil or balm can help prevent trans epidermal water loss, but when there is not enough water to begin with (dry skin types), this is not going to cut it.
Water cools skin which is important for dry, irritated, sensitive types. It plumps up fine lines and gives an overall healthy glow. It also helps deliver nourishing oil and butters to skin that gets clogged easily. I can’t just use oil on my skin, it would be a mess. To each their own but water most definitely serves a very important purpose in keeping skin moisturized.”
If someone has dry skin, should they use a moisturizer with water in it? Will oils be enough for them? When a product contains water, it needs a preservative, so I see that being used as a selling point for oil-based products.
“Yes, I do recommend an emulsion for dry skin when people are chronically lacking hydration. It immediately raises the water levels in the stratum corneum. Oils are great and are the main component in creams, but they don’t have effective barriers that a wax or butter is going to provide.
As far as preservatives go, there are quite a few safe, non-toxic versions out there. For instance, my company uses organic acids from basil and non-gmo corn. ‘Preservative-free’ applied to food makes perfect sense because we should be eating fresh, whole ingredients. It doesn’t translate as well in skin care that is meant to sit unrefrigerated on a bathroom shelf for months on end. I also don’t want people to be turned off of green beauty because it only provides oils and balms. Non-toxic beauty should be for everyone, and we should be able to offer safe versions of everything that you can get conventionally.”
By putting water on your skin, you are hydrating it? Does the water absorb? If you wanted to use just an oil or a balm, could you apply it to a damp face to get more hydration? What about oily skin, does it need water in the products it uses?
“Yes, hydration is water. Oil can help lock in what is already there, but it doesn’t add to it. If you put oil on damp skin, it will thin it out and the water will evaporate. With emulsions, some of the water stays bound to the oil in the epidermis giving it a plumped up refreshed look. Oily skin can use these types of products because they want the benefits of an oil like rosehip or argan but can’t handle it on its own as it’s too heavy. A moisturizer can deliver a very thin layer to the skin.”
Can you tell me about the role water plays in cleansers?
“Water is in all gel cleansers, soaps, and milk cleansers even though it may not be listed because it was used in saponification. Beyond that, your only option is oil cleansing, and not everyone can or wants to do that, especially oily and acne-prone skin.”
Is aloe vera juice better than water?
“Here’s a formulating secret about aloe vera. Labs get the aloe powder freeze dried and mix it 1% into water. They do this so that they can put aloe juice rather than water in the ingredients, but really, it’s water. Aloe is a great addition to a formula because it is anti-inflammatory, but it serves more of a purpose for marketing than anything.”
That is interesting. I see it used lots as a base for products.
“Companies avoid putting the word water on their label. They get around it this way.”
If there is water in a product, does that mean we are getting less active/beneficial ingredients?
“Most active ingredients have a maximum dose that can go on the skin that doesn’t vary with water content. If you have a water and oil product, you get more variety because you get oil soluble and water soluble actives. For instance, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are both water soluble, so you can’t just add those to a balm. The only thing you get more of in an oil product is fatty acids, but there are only so much of those that the skin needs before it’s too greasy or heavy on the skin.”
Awesome, thanks so much Jessica!
Be sure to check out Cocoon Apothecary for some amazing skin care products.
Yours In Beauty,