Water in Cosmetics – Yay or Nay?

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When it comes to water in cosmetics, you’ll find this ingredient listed in every type of personal care product – lotions, cleansers, deodorants, make-up, shampoos, sunscreens, etc. Do an internet search for the use of this common skin care ingredient and you’ll find differing opinions regarding its usefulness in formulations.

In this post, I’ll cover the rationale behind incorporating water in cosmetics and let you decide if it makes sense or not.

Water in Cosmetics – Why?

Many individuals and companies will dispute the use of water in personal care products for many reasons with the main argument being that it is a cheap filler in treatments.

Yet from a formulation and benefits perspective, water is important when it comes to cosmetics for several reasons:

  1. It helps to dissolve many ingredients that are beneficial to skin. Without water, you’d have to make do without many skin beneficial ingredients or be happy with a gritty, unpleasant texture.
  2. Water aids in the formation of emulsions – preparations in which oil and water are combined together to form creams and lotions. Depending on the ratio of oil to water, these may be called oil-in-water or water-in-oil emulsions. Emulsions produce lighter feeling and less greasy textured formulations than those that contain oil alone. More water equals a lighter textured product and less results in a more heavily textured one.
  3. It helps to replenish moisture in the skin.

What Type of Water Is Used in Cosmetics?

The type of water in cosmetics isn’t every day, regular tap water. It has to be free of microbes, metals and particulates that not only potentially can contaminate the end product but also wreck its stability. For this reason, formulations should contain distilled or deionized water which is free from contamination.

What About the Consumption of Water for Maintaining Healthy Skin?

You’ll come across many recommendations advocating that the consumption of adequate water – often eight to 10 glasses per day – is the secret to radiant skin. In fact, beauty magazines and beauty bloggers never tire of this as a way to improve your skin’s appearance and even eliminate wrinkles.

While nobody would dispute that adequate water intake is important for your health, there is little, if any, scientific evidence that proves drinking a lot of water has any skin benefits at all. In fact, the water you consume will reach all your organs before it gets to your skin. Our skin, via its outermost layer, the stratum corneum, is designed to prevent water loss.

Yet guzzling water isn’t necessarily going to make its way to your skin. The application of topical treatments with ingredients that include occlusives (prevent water from evaporating from the skin into the environment) and humectants (draw water into the superficial layers of skin) is your better bet for efficacy. Apply a hydrating moisturizer immediately after washing, bathing or showering to help lock in the moisture.

As for the consumption – go ahead. Drinking water will do your body good; just don’t expect it to transform your skin. The next time you pick up a container and read the ingredients to see water at the top, you’ll know why this skin beneficial ingredient is included.

Water is included in several of our Apothekari formulations including Daily Infusion Moisturizer, our Bespoke Vitamin C Serums and A is for Anti-Aging. They are not there just for show!