H20 is h20, right? Not so in the beauty realm. With many products incorporating ’super’ water – from hexagonal to eloptic to energized to oxygenated to reverse osmosis – we thought it best to filter through the hype to see which were actually beneficial for the skin.

Water is primarily used as a solvent in cosmetics and personal care products, and helps form emulsions in which it is combined with oil to create creams and lotions. The quality and purity of this water (called process water) is monitored according to the FDA’s Guidance on Cosmetic Manufacturing Practice Guidelines and is meant to contain no intentionally added substances. So what do hexagonal, eloptic, energized, oxygenated and reverse osmosis waters have that make them different from good ol’ fashioned process water?

The difference can simply be in the structure, as is the case for hexagonal water. This type of water clusters h20 molecules in hexagons, which is supposed to be more successfully absorbed into the skin and result in a more detoxifying version of the liquid. Dr. Mu Shik John, the Japanese doctor who discovered the six-sided structure of water in the 60s, theorizes that “replenishing the hexagonal water in our bodies can increase vitality, slow the aging process and prevent disease” and that “aging is a loss of hexagonal water from organs, tissues and cells, and an overall decrease in total body water.”

There has been much debate on the actual benefits of this kind of water; Marta discussed her take on the subject in 2008; two years later the available scientific data is still slim to none. Retired chemistry professor Stephen Lower dedicates his spirited website Chem1.com to the “structured water pseudoscience and quackery”, shooting down all enhanced forms of water (and just about everything else). It’s hard to take the website seriously, though, since it treads on the border of it’s own quackery of the other extreme.

Upon searching for information on eloptic energized water, I came to realize that eloptic is a patented word. Scientist Thomas Hieronymous supposedly discovered this new form of energy, made up a word with the combination of the words electric and optic and then patented it in 1949. He also created the Psionic Hieronymous Machine, which was designed to detect the presence of any element by its individual frequency. The FDA has since branded the machine as a fake.

Eloptic energy is vaguely described as energy that is being radiated from or is in some manner given off, or forms a force field around, everything in our material world under normal conditions and without treatment. Each element that makes up our world gives off this energy. If I’m understanding this correctly, this would mean simply leaving purified water out on a table to “capture” this eloptic energy before incorporating it into the cosmetic. And this helps our skin, how? Ironically, Simply Divine Botanicals, which Marta recently reviewed, also contains this eloptic energized water.

Oxygenated water seems good in theory, but lacks practicality. On the premise that an intense blast of oxygen would prove beneficial to killing bacteria, anyone with acne-prone skin would wonder where to sign up. A 2004 Cosmetic Dermatology Journal article attributes the reduction of acne to the antimicrobial properties of the electrolyzed oxygenated water. That said, the results maintain that there was not a statistically significant reduction in the number of noninflammatory acne lesions or cysts between the treated and untreated side of the face. Medical professionals also wonder how a topical application of a product would remain oxygenated once the bottle is opened.

Reverse-osmosis is a filtration method that is meant to purify water. In that same vein, reverse osmosis water  in cosmetics would simply use this then filtered water, now devoid of any minerals or contaminants. It’s hard to see how more pure would NOT be better for the face, but some professionals suggest that ultrapure water could also be an aggressive chemical.

It’s hard not to balk at the sheer number of products being sold out there. On a simple Google search for the effects of energized water, I came across Stirwand, a quantam-age drinking tool that requires just 20 seconds of stirring in regular water to transform it into an energized upgrade. Viola!

As it seems, all these waters lack the scientific research to fully make claims on their individual effects for improving skin. Lesson: don’t buy oxygenated, eloptic, energized, or hexagonal water on its own to splash on your face. Perhaps buy a product that has other ingredients of substance, too.