By Deanna Pai. Photo by: Getty Images.
First, there was Jamba Juice, where you could get strawberries and other assorted fruit spun together for a sweet slushy that doubled as dessert. That evolved into the (currently waning) trend of a juice spot on every corner, with all the leafy greens your heart could desire. And now, the tide has turned toward beauty waters, which are primarily...water.
But unlike what comes from your tap, these waters contain ingredients or have undergone treatments that—supposedly—give them serious skin care cred, like a brighter, clearer complexion, and the added benefit of antioxidants, which fend off damaging free radicals. Sounds awesome, right? We agree. It sounds so good, actually, that we're a little skeptical. So we've gone to the experts to find out if this is legit.
First, let's take a look at the waters. Some are infused, and they're especially easy to DIY. You can't click on an interview with a model of the moment without having to hear about her daily morning ritual of drinking hot water with lemon. (Although that does sound better than our daily morning ritual of body-checking people on the subway.) Rose water is a mainstay for Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon. And the Chalkboard Mag, a subsidiary of Pressed Juicery, is packed with recipes for skin-boosting tinctures. In May, it declared "Beauty Infusions" the next big thing, complete with a recipe that combines nettle leaf, goji berry, and red raspberry leaf—along with the option of adding seaweed. This combo delivers more B vitamins than you even knew existed, along with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can be converted to Vitamin A.
Other beauty waters are treated, or processed in some way that gives them special benefits (without having additional ingredients). One that caught our eye was Osmosis Skincare's Skin Perfection, which harnesses the power of "harmonized water"—stay with us here—to clear breakouts, calm rosacea, and control psoriasis and eczema. Harmonized water is water that can, somehow, alter the frequencies of our bodily cells. What this actually means for you is...well, we're still not sure. But what stands out is the recent study that showed that this water improved skin clarity and texture of acne-prone participants. Still, while these results seem compelling, it's not enough to legitimize harmonized water. "The difference between this study versus other studies is this was not published in a scientific journal, nor was it reviewed by its peers," says Keri Gans, R.D., a nutritionist in New York. "It could be promising and worth looking into more, but it’s definitely not worth basing conclusions."
Both kinds of water deserve a healthy dose of skepticism, partly because of all they promise. "When anything makes too many claims of too many wonderful things it can do, it’s a red flag," says Gans. If it can make your acne disappear, make your hair grow longer, and also overhaul your Bumble profile for you, it's probably too good to be true. Still, there are those who swear by these waters and post rave reviews describing how it worked for them. Beyond the possibility of placebo effect (which is surprisingly common) they might really be seeing results on their skin. Still, "it might be more the actual hydration that’s doing the trick," explains Gans. "The water, versus some secret ingredient, hydrates and plumps up your skin cells." So you might see a bit of a glow or softer skin—but it probably isn't the work of anything besides plain, old H2O.
To be fair, it's not like all supplements are snake oil. There are those in both pill and liquid forms that can actually have serious benefits and the independent research to back them up, like Researveage (a line of dissolvable collagen powders) and the hair-growth supplement Viviscal. Rose water, to Chantal's credit, is an OG, having been around for ages as a staple in global cuisine (and for good reason: A 2011 study revealed that it has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects). "Oral supplements or drinks can work in two ways," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., dermatologist and director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. "They can help improve intestinal health, which in turns reduces inflammation throughout your entire body. Second, they can provide nutrients that are absorbed into your blood stream that in turn support skin health." Most of these new beauty waters, on the other hand, don't have nearly the same amount of potency—since they're literally watered down. And even if you do have beneficial ingredients, like vitamin-rich goji berry, "the amounts that are in there are small, because they have to be," says Gans.
Our Verdict: "Will they be more beneficial for you than plain water? Probably not," says Gans. You're better off actually eating your antioxidants whole in the form of actual blueberries than, say, drinking the water that's been infused with them. But beyond the price tag, it's not like these will kill you—and if you don't drink water on the reg anyway, getting more H2O via these waters isn't a bad thing. "Anything that gets a person to drink more water is fine by me," she adds.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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