From Lab to Beauty Shelf: The Journey of Hypochlorous Acid in Skincare

Hypochlorous Acid, abbreviated as HOCl, is a gentle acid and a natural antimicrobial substance produced by immune cells within the body. It serves as the primary chemical defense mechanism against foreign pathogens. Through an electrolytic process, it can be artificially generated for Products in disinfectants and skincare products. This process involves subjecting a saline solution, which consists of sodium chloride dissolved in water, to electrolysis. This leads to the equilibrium production of both Hypochlorous Acid and sodium hypochlorite (OCl-), which represents a different chemical species.

While personal care products may indicate the percentage of hypochlorous acid on their packaging, the true benchmark is the level of free available chlorine. A 0.02% hypochlorous acid solution is technically equivalent to a 200 ppm free available chlorine solution. Remarkably, even at a modest dose of 200 ppm, hypochlorous acid proves to be a more effective disinfectant compared to bleach in germ elimination. Additionally, it is exceptionally gentle, allowing individuals with conditions like eczema, rosacea, and dermatitis to apply it topically without experiencing irritation. This compound possesses a distinctive versatility, as it can serve both as an EPA registered disinfectant and find skincare products and medical devices such as wound-healing solutions. The concentration plays a pivotal role in determining the appropriate format and usage.

Products of Hypochlorous Acid in Skincare

Hypochlorous Acid serves various purposes in skincare, encompassing the following:

Antimicrobial Properties: Hypochlorous Acid functions by oxidizing membrane-bound complexes within bacterial cells. Its effectiveness extends to combating viruses and fungi at different concentrations. This attribute contributes to skin purification and cleansing, making it a valuable component in wound care as a medical device.

Anti-Inflammatory Characteristics: Hypochlorous acid possesses anti-inflammatory attributes, rendering it beneficial for individuals experiencing inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and/or acne. It diminishes the binding of inflammatory cytokines and hinders proinflammatory mediators.

Wound Recovery: When employed as a wound healing agent, Hypochlorous Acid is classified as an FDA registered Class III medical device. In the United States, wound care solutions typically range from 100-200 ppm Cl (free available chlorine). This accelerates the tissue repair process by mitigating inflammation. Additionally, it alleviates pain and pruritus (itching), contributing to more effective wound maintenance

What is the Optimal pH Range for Hypochlorous Acid in Skincare?

When considering Hypochlorous Acid in skincare, it's crucial to account for its reactivity in comparison to hypochlorite. Various factors come into play during production, filling, and storage of the product. The pH of the formula and its stability are paramount as they directly impact the concentration of hypochlorous acid. The most potent form, hypochlorous acid, prevails predominantly within the pH range of 3-6. Beyond this range, it transforms into sodium hypochlorite. Examining the dissociation curve of hypochlorous acid reveals that a product is most effective when it exists in its least dissociated state, HOCl. There exists a narrow margin; excessively high pH levels lead to a bleaching effect, while overly low pH levels result in the production of low chlorine gas. At pH 5.5, you essentially have 100% Hypochlorous Acid, whereas at pH 12, you have nearly 100% sodium hypochlorite. It's important to note that higher concentrations of hypochlorous acid in a product lead to a shorter shelf life. A rough estimate suggests that a 200 ppm (or 0.02% hypochlorous acid) product has a shelf life of approximately 1 year from production, but storing the product in a cool environment can extend its longevity.

Advantages of Hypochlorous Acid in Skincare:

While antioxidants play a vital role in skincare, the potent oxidizing properties of hypochlorous acid provide remarkable benefits. As a super-oxidized solution, hypochlorous acid can:

  • Diminish bacterial bioburden on the skin, addressing issues like congestion and rosacea.
  • Cleanse and purify wounds, promoting accelerated skin recovery.
  • Minimize the visibility of redness and inflammation.
  • Alleviate symptoms associated with eczema and seborrheic dermatitis, such as itchiness, pain, and inflammation.

Hypochlorous Acid Concentration Levels & Recommended Usage:

In skincare products, the recommended concentration of HOCl typically falls within the low range of 0.005% (50 ppm) to 0.02% (200 ppm). This concentration range has proven effective in delivering desired benefits, including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties. It's important to bear in mind that higher concentrations of HOCl do not necessarily equate to better results. In fact, excessive use of highly concentrated HOCl may result in skin irritation or other undesirable effects. Therefore, it's vital to employ HOCl at the appropriate concentration level based on the product's intended purpose. Additionally, higher levels of hypochlorous acid correlate with increased levels of sodium hypochlorite, as they exist in equilibrium, and this can potentially lead to skin irritation. Products with elevated levels of hypochlorous acid are commonly found in disinfectants and household care items.

Is it Safe to Incorporate Hypochlorous Acid into Daily Skincare Routine?

Absolutely, hypochlorous acid can be safely integrated into your daily skincare regimen, provided it is used in accordance with recommended concentrations and usage guidelines. HOCl is a mild, non-cytotoxic component that is well-suited for daily apply, even on sensitive skin types.

In summary Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl) is generally safe for daily use in skincare, following recommended concentrations and guidelines. It's suitable for various skin types, especially sensitive or inflamed conditions like acne and rosacea. Individuals allergic to chlorine or with specific skin sensitivities should exercise caution. HOCl pairs well with limited ingredients due to its oxidizing nature. Always let HOCl products dry before applying other products, particularly antioxidants like vitamin C. Additionally, ensure products containing HOCl are formulated to preserve stability and efficacy. Avoid mixing HOCl with other skincare products to maintain effectiveness.