Water-Free: Cosmetics Using Extract Instead of Purified Water

During the past 10 years as a certain shop brand became popular, many so-called purified water-free or "water-free" cosmetics products have come on the market. 

Purified water is tap water that is filtered through distillation or ion-exchange resin for purification and is the basic element for creating cosmetics. It also plays a key role in the stability of the product's formula, and so it is simply marketing jargon to claim only extracts are used. Normally, extracts are comprised of: purified water + preservative + emulsifier + extract. So, in order to produce extracts, you'd need to add purified water as a basic ingredient. But certain cosmetic makers have claimed they only use extracts, not purified water, as their products' base in order to essentially hike prices. 

In general, purified water needs to be used for the stability of the formulation, but what would happen if only extracts were used in place of purified water? In order not to significantly affect the price and stability, the extracts would need to be of a similar consistency as purified water. For example, in the case of the commonly used lavender water, how much water would come out during the extraction process? In other words, extraction would require a separate solvent. Vegetable extracts used in cosmetics are not like, say, brewed green tea one drinks. 


Ah, here is a silly but interesting thought: what would happen if you drink purified water? Because minerals and other substances that are absorbed into the body are removed from purified water, it is advised that you do not drink purified water, or you may get a stomach ache. What you normally think of as purified water is actually distilled water. But if possible, wouldn't it be better to drink mineral water than distilled water? 

Typically, it is easy to regard purified water as simply clean water that functions as a solvent and thus not adding much value as a cosmetic ingredient. However, here are several other reasons why purified water is used for cosmetics: it prevents putrefaction; it improves skin penetration by removing metal ions found in ordinary water; and it does not cause skin irritation or allergies. In short, purified water is more than just clean water but water designed to be most safely used for skin. 

Of course, there are safe and effective products that use extracts (such as tea tree, aloe, propolis, glycerin, etc.) instead of purified water as the base, created for particular skin types or to maximize certain benefits. However, these extract-based cosmetics have their drawbacks. Because these extracts cause more bacterial growth, more preservatives have to be added.



In fact, in today's market, there are too many products that use plausible-sounding slogans or deceptive advertising to lure in consumers who aren't experts in cosmetics. Examples include 'water-free' cosmetics, the last blog post's 'low pH level is better' products, products that promise medical efficacy, such as "made to treat acne or atopic skin", and products that claim to prevent hair loss or promote hair growth.

This type of marketing can safely be ignored.