Little wonder our skin is feeling parched. Winter is usually tough enough, with the endless drying-out by central heating, but this year we are stuck indoors most hours of the day.
And if we do venture outside our faces must contend with freezing winds and the coldest weather in a decade.
Thankfully, there is a new ingredient now supercharging skin potions — electrolytes. Yes, the same refreshing and hydrating compounds found in sports drinks could be just what your dehydrated skin needs.
When you remember that skin’s primary function is to keep stuff out, it’s no surprise that the skincare industry has a tough job getting good-for-it substances inside. That includes moisture, which has a tendency to leach out of upper skin layers and evaporate from the surface. This can leave you feeling tight just hours after applying your face cream.
Inge van Lotringen tests beauty products on sale in the UK containing electrolytes (file image)
Yet natural hydration should be easy. Skin has an intricate web of minuscule channels called ‘aquaporins’ permeating its layers, whose job is to distribute moisture evenly so skin stays soft and supple. Water is supposed to flow freely through this inbuilt irrigation network. But this doesn’t always happen, especially when skin is compromised by age or environmental factors.
Cosmetics expert Paula Begoun, of Paula’s Choice skincare, says: ‘Vital skin-hydrating agents like hyaluronic acid and glycerine, as well as plain water, need assistance to spur their movement through these water channels.’ And electrolytes, it seems, are the ideal assistants.
‘Electrolytes — ingredients that create an electrical charge once mixed with fluids — help hydrators, and other active ingredients swimming along, get to where they are needed, and in exactly the right amount,’ explains Paula.
Like a finely tuned distribution system, these compounds and minerals that help cells function ensure the skin’s moisture levels are balanced. And that tackles more than just dry skin, as repair and regenerative processes only work properly when hydration is perfectly calibrated. So electrolytes are a catalyst for overall skin health and good looks. But which supercharged products make for moisture-bomb magic? Read on to find out . . .
Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial Hydrating Masque, £44, spacenk.com
Inge said Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial Hydrating Masque (pictured) is best applied before bed to wake up plumper
With a gel texture that belies the richness at its heart, this electrolyte and coconut water cocktail also packs a battery of ceramides and squalene to furnish skin with essential lipids, alongside collagen-boosters. Slap on before bed and wake up plumper, or use as a pre-Zoom water-infusing, skin-smoothing mask. 3/5
Algenist Splash Absolute Hydration Replenishing Sleeping Pack, £44, cultbeauty.co.uk
Inge said Algenist Splash Absolute Hydration Replenishing Sleeping Pack (pictured) is a treat from the deep
Invented by the Koreans, this ‘sleeping pack’ is a rich, bouncy gel that drenches skin overnight without leaving an oil slick. This one is heavily algae-extract based, from its mineral electrolytes to its humectants to its skin cell-regenerating, anti-ageing alguronic acid. A treat from the deep. 3/5
Paula’s Choice Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturiser, £32, paulaschoice.co.uk
Inge said Paula’s Choice Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturiser (pictured) provides a lasting feeling of hydration
This cream is like a cloudburst: almost mousse-like in consistency, it breaks into liquid on the skin and spirits away into your pores. Despite its lightness, the feeling of hydration lasts, thanks to not just electrolytes but masses of water-binding agents and skin barrier-building lipids. Apply anytime, alone or under face oil or SPF. 5/5
Crème de la Mer The Moisturizing Cream, from £125, cremedelamer.co.uk
Inge said Crème de la Mer The Moisturizing Cream (pictured) is ultra-rich and turns liquidy when you massage it in
Hailed as the ultimate elixir of youth at its inception, La Mer has had a tough time in recent years, accused of being anything from overpriced (its critics have a point) to containing ‘toxic’ mineral oil (it doesn’t). But the unction has got a lot going for it: it teems with bio-available electrolytes plus a high level of nourishing algae extracts and vitamins. Ultra-rich, it turns liquidy when you massage it in, and is known to calm upset skin. 4/5
Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Makeup SPF45, £36, esteelauder.co.uk
Inge said Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Makeup SPF45 (pictured) provides a glowy finish
This doesn’t have electrolytes but does have ‘ion-charged water’, which the brand says ‘increases moisture within the skin while allowing other hydrating ingredients to penetrate more deeply’. Sound familiar? Ions are the electrical charges that electrolytes produce when dissolved in the aquaporins, so they have similar moisture-boosting benefits. Providing a glowy finish and lasting, non-oily comfort that lasts all day, the technology seems to work. It also comes in 20 different shades to suit all skins. 3/5