Ingredient labels are a hot topic in skincare, and it’s no secret that water is the number one ingredient on the majority of skincare ingredient labels. You may already know that the first five ingredients on the label make up at least 80 percent of the product, which means that in many cases the product is mostly water. This fact has contributed to much confusion about product quality and efficacy.

When making the decision to use products containing water or not, it’s important to have an understanding about how this simple ingredient can affect the product’s efficacy, your skin, and improve your purchase power. The truth is that just as there are benefits to having skin care without water, there are also many benefits to using water an ingredient.

To help clarify your understanding, here are our top five pros of water as a skincare ingredient:

The pros of water as a skincare ingredient:

1Water hydrates the skin. Oils are important to seal in moisture and prevent trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), but they don’t actually hydrate the skin.

2Water allows more ingredient options within a formulation. Some ingredients are oil soluble, but many are ‘hydrophilic’ which means they work best with water.  This includes beneficial botanical extracts like Manuka Oil, Kanuka Oil, as well as various other plant-based extracts.  With these ingredients, having water in the formula is essential to ensure best delivery to the skin. Active ingredients are extremely potent, so being slightly diluted by water won’t make them less powerful—having water in the formula will actually make them far more effective on the skin.

3. Water may improve ingredient penetration and absorption. Even though water-soluble ingredients have difficulty penetrating through the epidermal lipid barrier into the deeper layers of the skin, research shows that increasing skin hydration also increases ingredient penetration of both oil and water-soluble ingredients.

4. Water cools the skin. Certain skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea are associated with heat and inflammation. A spritz of a water-based toner or using a water-based cream can do wonders to cool a heat-related breakout or flare-up.

5. Water improves product consistency and spreadability for some products. Not everyone likes the consistency of heavier balms and butters. Sometimes adding even a small amount of water gives the product a more desirable feel without compromising the overall efficacy of the product.  You will notice that our Body Lotion formula is designed to boost effectiveness and give you spread, by not absorbing into the skin straight away allowing you to get greater coverage from the cream, meaning it goes further.   Thickness or concentration of a cream doesn’t allow for the creams to spread further and thus make them more expensive.

The bottom line:

At the end of the day, it really is a two-sided coin. With some products, not having water is a major selling point. It makes them more potent, effective, and luxurious. However, with some formulas, water is actually a crucial addition. Don’t let seeing water on the label scare you away—it’s there for a reason.