Is water bad for my skin?

When you have sensitive skin, everything has the potential to become an irritant. Everything that is, except water – right?

In recent months, a growing number of reports have suggested that water may be harmful to sensitive skin. Given the many variations in tap water and bottled water, these claims are difficult to prove. But seeing as just about everyone uses water during his or her daily skincare regime, we thought it was worth investigating…


Is tap water safe to use on skin?

Most tap water is subject to tightly controlled testing and perfectly safe to use. However, you will find natural variations in the quality of the tap water in different areas.

‘Hard’ water has a higher mineral content than ‘soft’ water, and it’s these minerals (magnesium, calcium, and iron, for instance) which can cause irritation.

You’ll know you’re in a hard water area if soapy products create less lather than usual, making it more difficult to rinse away residue from your soap or cleaning products – and this may increase the sensitivity of delicate complexions.

Solution: Use a cotton cloth to wipe away all cleaning products. If you live in a hard water area, try ion exchange resins to soften your water supply.


Can I absorb harmful chemicals through water?

Your skin can’t ‘absorb’ chemicals from water, but mineral-rich water and over-cleansing could have a slightly abrasive or drying effect on sensitive skin. In terms of where the risk lies, you are more likely to be absorbing harsh chemicals via your facial soap or cleanser.

Solution: Choose a cleanser that is free from detergents and specially formulated for very sensitive skin. Pai’s Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser provides a gentle action that’s alcohol and detergent free. If you should want to avoid water, it can be removed effectively using cotton wool.


Should I cleanse with bottled water?

Some celebrities swear by bottled water as a remedy for clear skin and shiny hair. In reality, bottled (or mineral) water is likely to be just as mineral-rich as tap water, and may irritate those with sensitive skin in exactly the same way that hard water can.

It’s also not great for the environment!

Solution: If your tap water is hard, consider using a water softener. This may prove particularly beneficial if you suffer from a certain condition, such as eczema.

If you are going to use bottled water, it’s a good idea to choose a brand that has a calcium level of below 100ppm.

Scottish Highland waters tend to be naturally softer, as they come from granite and peat areas where there is minimal limestone.


Could I be allergic to water?

Aquagenic urticaria, or water allergy, is a very rare disease where any type of water (hard or soft, tap or bottled, hot or cold) feels painful on contact with skin. The reaction causes the appearance of itchy hives.

If you are finding yourself extremely sensitive to water, and none of tried and tested solutions have helped, it may be a good idea to speak your doctor about the possibility of aquagenic urticaria.

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