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What are electrolytes? Are they any use in skincare?

What is an electrolyte? I know it has been too many decades since high school, for you and for me. This is a crucial factor in advertising: they know we remember that some words are important but they also know that we forgot what they mean, and they use those words to make money. So here it is (and this is where Wikipedia is most useful).

An electrolyte is a substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. The dissolved electrolyte separates into cations and anions, which disperse uniformly through the solvent. Electrically, such a solution is neutral. If an electric potential is applied to such a solution, the cations of the solution are drawn to the electrode that has an abundance of electrons, while the anions are drawn to the electrode that has a deficit of electrons. The movement of anions and cations in opposite directions within the solution amounts to a current. This includes most soluble salts, acids, and bases.

In short: if you dissolve salt (an electrolyte) in water, you got yourself a nice solution that will conduct electricity.

How can this be applied to skincare? It is really cheap to play with electricity and electrolytes, making this an ideal tool for extracting money from people. Sometimes they use the historical term “galvanic” (from Luigi Galvani, an Italian physician who discovered animal electricity).  If you look for “galvanic rejuvenation” you will find hundreds of gadgets that will promise to rejuvenate your skin. They won’t!

Living creatures, including us,  use ions and electricity for many sophisticated processes that evolved for millions of years. This does not mean that gross gadgets will do anything to improve your skin. If anything, they can mess up stuff.  [Exception: you can trust the physical therapist that is trying to accelerate the healing of a muscle lesion].

Our skin conducts electricity because there are electrolytes in it, for example, in sweat. Gadgets that measure galvanic skin response (the skin’s resistance to the passage of electrical current) have been used to sell homeopathic remedies, diagnose dental problems, suggest remedies for losing weight, diagnosing infections, etc.

This report is very instructive: https://quackwatch.org/related/electro/

and this https://quackwatch.org/device/reg/milstead/

In short, beware of anything electrical, they are gadgets electrical parts that produce low voltage, low-frequency currents. They have no therapeutic value. You can buy a Nuskin device that sells with a salt-containing solution and then produces small electric currents to make you think something is happening. Nothing useful will happen, for sure. But you may think your skin looks better because you spent money on the device and you keep spending money in the gels they sell you afterward.

In quackwatch.org you can find stuff like this: ” Using the most advanced technology with the NRF (NutriMost Resonant Frequency) biocommunication technology, the computer sends a signal to the body in the form of a virtual stimulus, your body responds with very subtle changes in the electrical properties of your skin and the hand cradle measures these changes and sends that information back to the computer; it’s like the computer’s asking your body a question and your body’s answering. . . .”.

My advice? Leave your skin electrolytes alone. [Exception: I am all for antiperspirants, which will decrease the amount of electrolytes you lose in sweat, but only because I don’t like the smell of sweat when bacteria are growing in there].

Trust your skin. When you take good care of it (nutrition, no UV, etc.) it will work its magic by itself. No external electricity required.

You don’t need to apply electricity to increase the penetration of food actives present in your skincare products.

 

 

 

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