‘These products are like Lucozade for the face’
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
The skin barrier – aka stratum corneum – is a wonderful thing. Described by dermatologists as a “brick wall”, it locks in moisture and keeps out external aggressors. A downside is that getting nutrients past it can be a challenge; even water sits on top of the skin until it evaporates.
Electrolytes have a canny way of getting around this. These minerals – including magnesium, sodium and potassium, which are found in foods such as spinach, watermelon, milk and bananas – create an electrical charge when dissolved to help direct water where it’s needed. Until recently, they had mostly been used in sports drinks; today they’re finding fame in skincare. “The premise of using them in skincare is they’ll help the uptake of water into the skin, producing a more plump, quenched and hydrated finish,” explains skin expert Melanie Grant. Call it a Lucozade for your face.
Grant recommends electrolyte-infused skincare for those with mild to moderate dehydration – “something that’s been exacerbated by air conditioning or long-haul travel”, she says. In these cases, reach for mists, essences and serums, which, says Grant, will have “a faster and more noticeable effect”. Brands including Oskia and StriVectin combine electrolytes with hydrating hyaluronic acid, while Paula’s Choice Electrolyte Moisturiser (£35) is a blend of calcium, potassium and magnesium. A richer treatment comes from Drunk Elephant’s F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial (£45), which can be applied overnight to revive the skin barrier.
But it’s not just about hydration. “What makes [electrolytes] special is that they can also ‘chaperone’ other ingredients,” adds Soho Skin’s Nathan Moore. In the brand’s 24/7 Treatment (£72), magnesium is used to transport an energising dose of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In FaceGym’s Electro-lite Cleanser (£32), magnesium and calcium promise to aid uptake of pH-balancing glycolipids.
From Hungary, Omorovicza’s detoxifying Deep Cleansing Mask (£74) is powered by an electrolyte-rich sediment that lines Lake Hévíz. “We were inspired by the thermal waters of Budapest,” says co-founder Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza. In CellUltra’s Eye Serum-XT (£179), Swiss glacier water is used for its high potassium, calcium and magnesium content. Apply morning and night to moisturise and smooth fine lines.