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hypochlorous acid for skin

Hypochlorous Acid in Skincare

What is Hypochlorous Acid?

Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) is a weak acid and antimicrobial molecule naturally produced by immune cells in the body. It is the first line of chemical defense in the body against foreign pathogens. It can be electrolytically-generated for disinfectants and skincare products and the resulting solution is often referred to as “electrolyzed water” or “electrochemically activated water.” A saline solution, sodium chloride in water, is electrolyzed and HOCl is generated in equilibrium with sodium hypochlorite OCl-, a different chemical species.

While personal care products list the percent of hypochlorous acid on packaging the true referenced standard is the concentration of free available chlorine. A 0.02% hypochlorous acid solution is equivalent to 270 ppm free available chlorine (FAC) solution, a unit of measurement noted in most literature. Hypochlorous acid is a superior disinfectant even at a low dose of 200 ppm, more effective than bleach at killing germs but extremely gentle so those suffering from eczema, rosacea, and dermatitis can apply topically without irritation. It is a unique molecule that can function as both an EPA registered disinfectant as well as be used in skincare products and medical devices such as wound healing. The concentration dictates the format and use.

Hypochlorous Acid Uses

Hypochlorous Acid has a number of uses in skincare, including the following:

Antimicrobial Agent: Hypochlorous Acid oxidatively destroys the membrane bound complexes in bacterial cells. It has been shown to be effective against viruses and fungi as well at various concentrations. This helps to purify and cleanse the skin and is even used in wound care as a medical device.

Anti-inflammatory Properties: Hypochlorous acid has anti-inflammatory properties that make it useful for those dealing with inflammatory skin symptoms associated with eczema and/or acne. It reduces the binding of inflammatory cytokines and inhibits proinflammatory mediators.

Wound Healing: Hypochlorous Acid is used as an FDA registered Class III medical device when positioned as a wound healing agent. Wound care solutions in the US range from 100-200 ppm FAC. By reducing inflammation, the tissue repair process speeds up. It also reduces pain and pruritus or itching which can help aid in wound maintenance.

What is the Optimal pH Range When Used in Skincare?

Hypochlorous acid is more reactive than hypochlorite and many considerations have to be made during the production, filling, and storage of the product. Formula pH and stability are crucial because they influence the concentration of hypochlorous acid. The potent form is hypochlorous acid, predominantly present at pH 3-6, but outside of this range it converts to sodium hypochlorite. Looking at the dissociation curve of hypochlorous acid the optimal efficacy of a product is when it’s in its least dissociated form, HOCl. There is a very small range and at a pH too high the solution becomes a bleaching agent and at a pH too low there is production of low chlorine gas. At pH 5.5 you essentially have 100% Hypochlorous Acid and pH 12 you have nearly 100% sodium hypochlorite. The higher concentration of hypochlorous acid in a product the shorter the shelf life of the product. A rough estimate of shelf life for a 0.02% hypochlorous acid product is 1 year from production but storing the product in a cool place can extend the shelf life.

Benefits of Hypochlorous Acid for Skin:

While antioxidants are great for skin, this powerful oxidizing agent can offer great benefits. As a super-oxidized solution hypochlorous acid can:

  • Reduce bacterial bioburden on the skin to address topical systems of congestion and rosacea.

  • Purify and cleanse wounds to help skin recover faster.

  • Reduce the appearance of redness and inflammation.

  • Reduce symptoms of eczema and seborrheic dermatitis by reducing itch, pain, and inflammation.

Hypochlorous Acid for Acne and Congested Skin

Hypochlorous acid helps congested skin by targeted microbes found on the surface of the skin. It can help purify while reducing topical skin redness making it great for those with acne-prone skin. It doesn’t reduce sebum levels or dry out the skin, making it a perfect addition to a skin regimen that also includes OTC acne products, which are known to often leave skin feeling dry and tight.

Hypochlorous Acid for Rosacea

Hypochlorous acid can also be beneficial for those with rosacea-prone skin for the same reason it is beneficial for those diagnosed with acne-prone skin. Hypochlorous acid has been shown to not dry out the skin, clog pores, and can actually reduce topical signs of inflammation.

Hypochlorous Acid for Eczema

Hypochlorous acid helps congested skin by targeted microbes found on the surface of the skin. It can help purify while reducing topical skin redness making it great for those with acne-prone skin. It doesn’t reduce sebum levels or dry out the skin, making it a perfect addition to a skin regimen that also includes OTC acne products, which are known to often leave skin feeling dry and tight.

Concentration Levels & Recommended Usage:

The recommended concentration of HOCl in skincare products is typically low, ranging from 0.005% to 0.02% hypochlorous acid. This concentration range has been found to be effective in providing the desired benefits, such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and wound maintenance properties. It is important to note that higher concentrations of HOCl do not necessarily mean better results. In fact, using a high concentration of HOCl may lead to skin irritation or other adverse effects. It is crucial to use HOCl at the appropriate concentration level for the intended purpose of the product. Higher levels of hypochlorous acid also mean higher levels of sodium hypochlorite, since they are at equilibrium, and sodium hypochlorite can lead to skin irritation. You can find higher levels of hypochlorous acid in disinfectants and homecare products.

What Type of Skincare Products is Hypochlorous Acid Typically Used In?

Due to numerous ingredient incompatibilities, a restrictive and narrow pH range for efficacy, and specialized production equipment needed during manufacturing, hypochlorous acid is not produced by many manufacturers and is limited to a few formats. Hypochlorous acid can be found in facial sprays, minimalist water-based serums, and wipes. Our Universal Skin Solution Hypochlorous Acid Spray is a superoxidized solution that contains 0.02% hypochlorous acid to purify skin and optically reduce redness and sensitized skin. This level is the optimal level for a cosmetic product to provide maximum efficacy while limiting unwanted levels of sodium hypochlorite. We start with a saline solution that undergoes electrolysis to produce a highly pure hypochlorous acid with a patented pH stabilizing system to keep it in the active form. While most brands start with standard sodium chloride as the salt in their saline solution we added a sea salt concentrated for its mineral profile and especially high in magnesium. Magnesium can help aid in skin soothing. It also received the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance and National Rosacea Society Seal of Acceptance.

Hypochlorous Acid Spray Benefits:

Hypochlorous acid spray provides numerous benefits to both face and body as listed below:

  • Cleanses

  • Purifies

  • Preps skin before skin procedures

  • Helps improve skin texture

  • Calms and soothes

  • Helps alleviate itchiness and irritation

  • Helps clean cuts and scrapes

  • Helps clear congestion

  • Helps control odor

  • Refreshes skin

  • Provides relief

  • Increases hydration

  • Helps support skin barrier

  • Optically reduces redness

  • Promotes healthier looking skin

We offer our Universal Skin Solution Hypochlorous Acid Spray in a size large enough for both face and body.

Is it Okay to Use Hypochlorous Acid Daily?

Yes, hypochlorous acid is generally safe for daily use in skincare products, as long as it is used in the recommended concentrations and individuals follow the recommended usage guidelines. HOCl is a gentle, non-cytotoxic ingredient that is suitable for daily use, even on sensitive skin.

In summary, it is generally safe to use HOCl daily in skincare products, as long as it is used in the recommended concentrations and following the recommended usage guidelines. However, it is important to discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional if any adverse effects occur.

Who Should Use Hypochlorous Acid?

Hypochlorous acid is known for its ability to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi, making it a popular ingredient in skincare products that target inflammatory conditions such as acne and rosacea that have a bacterial bioburden. It is also a good option for people with sensitive skin, as it is less likely to cause irritation compared to other ingredients. While it does purify the skin you don’t experience the dryness, burning, itching, or irritation like you would with alcohol.

Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) can be used by a wide range of people, including those with normal, oily, or dry skin. HOCl is generally well-tolerated by the skin and is considered safe for use by most individuals.

HOCl is particularly beneficial for individuals who are looking for a gentle yet effective skincare ingredient that can help improve the overall health and appearance of the skin. It can be used to help soothe and calm irritated or damaged skin.

Who Should Not Use Hypochlorous Acid?

As with any skincare ingredient, some individuals may be more sensitive to HOCl than others and may experience mild irritation. Individuals with a known sensitivity or allergy to chlorine or hypochlorite should avoid using HOCl. This is also heavily dependent on the product pH, formula stability, and hypochlorous acid concentration. Patch testing is always advised and chronic skin conditions should be evaluated by a doctor.

What Skincare Ingredients Pair Well with Hypochlorous Acid?

Hypochlorous Acid itself is not compatible with most ingredients which means that products containing hypochlorous acid are rather straight forward solutions containing only a few ingredients. It is a strong oxidizing agent and oxidizes most ingredients it comes in contact with. That being said, outside of formulating with it, hypochlorous acid products can be applied to the skin and other products layered on top. The key is to let the hypochlorous acid product fully dry on the skin before it comes in contact with other products, especially those that are antioxidants such as vitamin C.

A hypochlorous acid spray and serum can be layered with soothing and anti-inflammatory products containing ingredients such as niacinamide, beta-glucan, or colloidal oatmeal. Niacinamide has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can complement the anti-inflammatory benefits of HOCl. This combination can be particularly helpful for individuals with congestion or other inflammatory skin conditions.

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that can help to attract and retain moisture in the skin, providing hydration and plumping effects. When layered over HOCl, which has antimicrobial properties, this combination can help to support the skin's natural moisture barrier and prevent bacterial growth.

Use a hypochlorous acid spray or serum as a base before applying an OTC salicylic acid to help address congestion and breakouts. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that is effective in treating acne and other skin blemishes. When combined with HOCl, it can provide a dual action approach to your treatment plan, with the HOCl helping to reduce inflammation and the salicylic acid providing comedolytic properties.

Hypochlorous acid can layer well with a number of ingredients, including niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and salicylic acid. When combined with these ingredients, HOCl can provide a comprehensive approach to skincare, promoting overall skin health and enhancing its benefits.

Are There Any Ingredients that Should Not Be Used with Hypochlorous Acid?

Hypochlorous acid is sensitive to light, heat, and pH changes. It is important to choose skincare products containing hypochlorous acid that are formulated in a way that preserves the stability and efficacy of HOCl. Very pure salt, minimal metallic ion impurities, has to be used during the electrolysis or the shelf life and stability of the hypochlorous acid is negatively impacted. Even during the manufacturing process considerations need to be made such as the elimination of metal equipment that can be oxidized and rust in the presence of HOCl. HOCl has a number of incompatibilities and most ingredients cannot be added to the super-oxidized solution itself. Never mix your hypochlorous acid with other personal care products before applying on the skin or you could reduce the efficacy of your products. Layer by applying the hypochlorous acid spray, solution, or serum first and let dry before proceeding with other products.

DISCLAIMER: All skin care articles are intended to help educate on specific ingredients and skin care topics. Our articles are written to be informative and informational. Any reference to a specific patient experience is not a medical suggestion for treatment. Please note that any Prequel products with referenced ingredients are formulated for Cosmetic Use Only and NOT intended as replacements for physician advice and/or pharmaceutical product recommendations.



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