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Chemical Reaction: An Update on Water

By: Steve Herman
Posted: October 26, 2006, from the October 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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What can it do in personal care? According to Sircuit Skin,6 “Heavy water is 10% heavier than H2O and is known as D2O (deuterium oxide). Not only will it hydrate and plump your cells, but it fights certain acne bacteria as well. It evaporates more slowly than regular water and provides necessary hydration and natural moisture to the skin. Heavy water is believed to be the original water and is found in all water on the planet.”

Other claims,7 “Heavy water has a higher resistance to vaporization, which helps it stay on the skin for longer periods of time, as it has more viscosity. This ‘thickness’ gives it a higher ‘plumping’” effect than regular water and the skin does not dry out as quickly or as deeply. It requires 10 times the energy for ionization than regular water, which makes it more protective against ultraviolet radiation. It inactivates certain acne bacteria, making it an ideal moisturizing agent for blemish-prone skin.” The properties of D2O are indeed measurably different from H2O: for example, the viscosity is about 11% higher at 25° C.

With all the high-tech ingredients in development, it is easy to overlook the significance of water. For such a small and apparently commonplace molecule, water has yet to yield all its secrets. The personal care industry has found both benefits and problems in its use. Its value has become schizophrenic, with some products designed to hydrate, and others attempting to counteract its negative effects. Water, water everywhere—what are we to do about it?


  1. Wernet et al., The Structure of the First Coordination Shell in Liquid Water, Science, 995–999 (May 14, 2004)
  2. M Gerstein, and M Levitt, Simulating Water and the Molecules of Life, Sci Am 279: 100–5 (Nov 1998)
  3. C Druckman, Dangerous When Wet, The New York Times Magazine (Feb 5, 2006)