Electrolytes: Why are they worth the hype and so essential for your skin?

woman's hand on her face

If you are tired of reading about the recent electrolyte craze in skin care industry and wondering what are so special about these… you are in the right place.

The skin care industry is booming. But with the sudden increase in demand, companies are now trying to be more innovative with their products. In recent days, they are more open to infuse new interesting substances into products to make them more exciting. And electrolytes are one of them.

Here is the most shocking part: electrolytes have always been there, in your food, supplements, bath salts, even in skin care. But in 2020, skin care lines are introducing them in new interesting forms (thanks to extensive research!).

Now the thing is… not everyone is a chemist. Some people are still wondering what are these ingredients and why are they so hyped? Worry not! Just follow this article. And I assure you will get all of your questions answered (okay maybe not all, but some at least?).  

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Electrolytes: What are these?

Electrolytes are minerals. They are electrically charged. In a chemical perspective, they are substances that becomes ion in solution. We have electrolytes in our body. The major purpose of having them is they help to manage the fluid and pH level in the blood plasma. 

Diagram of electrolytes sources
Starting from the food you eat to the things you put on your face, electrolytes are everywhere

When they go out of balance, your body’s normal function is hampered. Some common electrolytes found are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and bicarbonate. 

Electrolytes: Why does your skin need them?

You remember all those beauty experts/celebs telling you to drink more water? This is because drinking water hydrates your skin. Due to the hectic life and extreme weather, your skin loses water every day. As a result it looks dull and dry. However, when you are super stressed or always in a room with AC/ heater, drinking water might not be enough for your skin to look hydrated. 

Here comes the hydrating skin care products to rescue you. Using hydrating gels or creams will restore the hydration level on your skin. I know what you’re thinking, “I have been using a hydrating cream, still my skin looks dull!”. Yes, that happens. 

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To give your skin the maximum radiant glow, you have to maintain its hydration as well as mineral levels at optimum level. 

If you keep hydrating your skin but your mineral levels are low, your skin will not look healthy and you’ll need those electrolytes. Your skin is unable to produce those minerals by its own, so you need to provide it from topical application. 

Sounds easy? Believe me when I say, NO!

Minerals, in their simple ionic form are not absorbed by the skin. They can only be beneficial for skin when they are accompanied with different processes. For instance, combining them with a  bio-organic carrier can help them to penetrate into the deeper level of the skin. Or converting them into another mineral form like magnesium to magnesium PCA which is more bio-available to skin. However, the absorption of minerals in skin is quite a complex process. It depends on many other factors such as how long the minerals will stay on your skin, what type of skin you have or what the other ingredients are available on the product.  

Electrolytes: Which ones are on trend and what should you be looking in the products?

There are few minerals which are currently going viral (of course for good reasons!) and are essential to have in your skin care regimen for a radiant glowing skin:

Sodium

Sodium plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin. Some of the most commonly used forms of sodium in skin care are sodium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium hyaluronate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, sodium lactate, sodium PCA, and sodium silicate. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate is used for brightening while sodium hyaluronate and PCA are mostly used for hydrating.  

Among all those, for hydration, sodium PCA is extremely valuable due to its high-performance.

If you are a natural skin care junkie (like me), sodium PCA is perfect for you. Ask me why? It is a natural ingredient derived from plants, fruits or coconut oil. Not only that. The most amazing part is the property of sodium PCA depends on where it is derived from. If it is extracted from vegetables, the salt can be used for moisturizing. While the salt from sea weed is used for its water binding or hydrating properties.   

Then…why using the salt, not sodium only? 

You would be amazed to know that, PCA is a naturally available in our skin as Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). It is an important element of skin’s intracellular matrix which prevents our skin from drying out.

The outer skin layer of healthy skin contains approximately 20 to 30% of NMF in dry weight. Natural Moisturizing Factor is composed of a mix of water soluble, powerful humectants. Skin dryness occurs when there is not enough humidity in the air as the NMF ca not draw water from the atmosphere to the skin.

Chart describing the percentage of NMF electrolytes
These are the NMF which are naturally found in the outermost layer of skin. The amount of PCA found in the skin is 12%

That is why having PCA with sodium makes it more powerful as a hydrating agent and a MUST for dehydrated skin. It also reduces loss of moisture evaporation because of its capacity to hold its weight in water. 

Now, if my skin has PCA why you need to apply it topically?

You ask the right questions always! Okay.. as you age, your skin starts losing its natural PCA. That’s why it’s essential to give your skin PCA from outside sources. 

Magnesium

Magnesium is a wonder electrolyte mineral. It can be used for any skin type. Also it can help to fight against so many skin issues including acne and wrinkles. If your skin is having magnesium deficiency, the level of fatty acids and collagens will decrease. As a result wrinkles will show up . 

Magnesium can also save your skin when it’s under attack!  It is proven to be helpful to maintain the regular cell regeneration and repair keep going. Your skin will look more healthy with daily magnesium application. Wondering why? Magnesium is a humectant also which helps with skin hydration.

But here is the deal…

Studies showed that using magnesium alone does allow it to penetrate into skin properly. Therefore it is often converted into PCA salt because PCA is a skin-replenishing agent and easily accepted by the skin cells.

Potassium

One of the major reasons of dry skin is potassium deficiency. Potassium is responsible to keep the moisture level balanced in the skin. It is an electrolyte by itself so very useful to maintain the natural function of skin as well. In addition to that, it also supports the growth of new cells. Like magnesium, potassium is also a humectant and keeps the pH of your skin on check (is it all K!).

Potassium is commonly used in cosmetics or skin care products as potassium hydroxide or potassium PCA. 

Calcium

The last most beneficial electrolyte mineral I am going to talk about is calcium. I know all of you are tired of hearing how calcium is so good for your bones.

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But you will be surprised!  Not only our bones but also our skin needs it on a daily basis. Calcium is required for your skin to generate new skin cells and shed old ones. Skin which lacks this super essential mineral can appear as fragile and dry. This happens due to the inability of skin to undergo skin regeneration. 

It also helps the epidermis to produce sebum and helps the skin retain moisture. 

So this is all for today…(enough science phew)! I hope by now (hopefully!) you know why all of these skin care lines are going bananas over electrolytes.. cause they are worth it.

The bottom line is…

Include some or all of these electrolytes in your skin care routines and enjoy the smooth, hydrated result! 

infographic about trending electrolytes in 2020
The most trending electrolytes and their functions summarized

Want to learn more?

Are you wondering who am I to share these tips with you? You can check out my about section to learn a little more abut me.

Are you interested in more tips? Check out the 5 best skin care tips for every skin type!

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