The effect of Water-based skin care products on your skin

Water-free skin care products

Are you paying for water in your skin care products? Take a moment, grab and flip over any of your favorite skin care product, chances are you will find water written straightaway as the first ingredient. It probably will be in the largest quantity than any other ingredient because usually ingredients are listed in descending order. I bet most of us have no idea about how much water do, water-based skin care products include.

I remember that treating my very dry skin with high-end moisturizers would not make any difference, rather it made my skin more dry and flaky. That’s when I looked into ingredients and the science behind water in skin care products.

Drink it! Don’t buy it.

The dilemma is we think highly of such products knowing that water is good for our skin. This is exactly where we go wrong. Water IS good for your skin but you DRINK it. You don’t pay for it in your skin care products. Water maybe is the perfect thing for your insides but on the outside it is different.

Water breeds mold and bacteria

You might be wondering if water is good for our skin then what could possibly be wrong with it being the main ingredient in any water-based skin care product? Let me simplify it. Water breeds mold and bacteria just like a fresh orange kept on your kitchen counter-top will yield mold after a few days but a dehydrated fruit will last indefinitely.

The need of emulsifier

If your skin care product contains some oil (most of them do) with water as a main ingredient, it needs an emulsifier to mix water with oil. We have all read it somewhere in our science class that water and oil don’t mix together. Right? Yes, they don’t on their own.

Formulation of water-based skin care products

When water is added to any skin care product, there is a certain need of another ingredient to stop mold and bacteria to develop. That another ingredient is a preservative of some kind. Those preservatives are usually toxic and make things look fancier on the outside and we happily let these toxins penetrate our skin and deprive it off of it’s natural oils. The more the water content in a water-based skin care product, the more danger your skin is embracing.

An extensive study on water in cosmetics from the Senior Manager of Research and Development Microbiology with Avon Products, Inc states formulation factors for water and Microbial growth that:

to prevent microorganisms from growing. a traditional or non-traditional/alternative preservative has to be present in the aqueous phase of a product’s formulation.

water-based skin care products
water-based skin care products

Why water is the main ingredient in a product?

More than 90% of all skin care products use more water in their formulations than anything else. Commonly used everyday skin care products in this category are creams, lotions, moisturizers, anti-aging serums, foundation to name a few.

1. Water is a cheap filler

So to address the reason why water is the most abundant ingredient in your skin care product; the simple answer is that water is cheap. You can buy a bottle of water from a retailing machine for very less price, but it is not the same with skin care products. Manufacturers use water to fill up the bottle, cutting the costs of producing each product down to sheer pennies. So the water, emulsifier and preservative are mere fillers. The reason you spend money on that particular product is the potentially active and beneficial ingredients which in this case would be less than 25% of the product will all those fillers.

2. It is abundant

Water is abundant. Water isn’t something that you have to particularly order and have it distributed in special packaging. This is important for product manufacturers because it cuts their costs down even further.

Water; limiting the effectiveness of product

When water is added to the formulation of a product it critically limits the effectiveness of it. Its addition also guarantees that some harsh chemicals are going to be needed in the product as well in form of preservatives.

Deeper look into your skin

Natural Moisturizing Factor of your skin

Your skin is naturally water-resistant. It is covered by a thin, waxy coating of oil. This coating helps keep your skin naturally moisturized. Water and water-based skin care products cannot infiltrate this layer. So on one hand, by not penetrating the skin, these products are not washing away the dirt and grime that accumulates on your skin, these products are not doing the job you bought them for. On the other hand, the water in water-based skin care products evaporates and takes with it many of your skin’s natural lipid, making your skin drier.

However, there are some water-based skin care products that go through your skin, but they do so by weird means. By using insensitive detergents and scratches, these products wipe away your natural, waterproof protection. This not only damages your skin, but it can also make your oil glands worse and dry your skin out totally.

Invest in water-free skin care products

In short, water is just not a good element in skin care products. So don’t waste your money on heavily perfumed, colorful bottle of water. If you’d like to find an alternative to cheap, water-based products, please check out some natural, aloe based skin care products. Although there won’t be a huge variety of zero-water skin care products as compared to water-based products, but it is not difficult investing some time on finding products with either minimal water or no water at all. Save your money, save your skin.

In a recent report, Charlotte Libby, Global Beauty and Personal Care analyst at Mintel, commented:

The more consumers become aware of this, the more beauty brands will need to change how they manufacture and formulate products to limit their dependence on water,”


Plain water and your skin:

It is a common understanding that putting water on the skin would dampen it more, but it is not true. Plain water that comes in contact with skin evaporates and takes with it many of the skin’s natural oils called natural moisturizing factor. Don’t use water more frequently, your skin will get drier day by day unless those natural oils are replaced. I have seen a significance improvement in my skin after first understanding and then implementing a few tips for using water on skin, in addition to some good water-free skin care products.

Managing water contact with your skin

Since you have to use water for bathing so the following are some guidelines to follow when it comes to water and dry skin:

  • Water temperature should be normal — hot water takes more oils away than cold water.
  • The length of water contact should be short — no long, hot showers if your skin is dry.
  • Unless you have mud and grime on you, you really don’t have to use soap every time and everywhere on your body. It’s OK to just use soap in “pits and parts” — in areas where you sweat, like armpits and the genital area (private parts).
  • If you need soap, use one of the recommended soaps for dry skin that contain emollients and actually replace the skin’s natural oils.
  • Using antibacterial gels for hand-washing does not cause the skin to dry out because the alcohol does not bind to the skin’s oils.
  • When drying off, pat the skin dry with a towel until the skin is not dripping – do not rub the skin vigorously.
  • Use a good moisturizer on the skin immediately after any contact with water. So the water doesn’t evaporate and it locks in the natural moisture.

For more about skin care, click here.

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