Water in products/mold

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A number of our customers are asking me about the following:

1. Is it true that water is the number one cause of mold?
2. Is it true that the water in products will cause more harm than good to my skin?
3. Is it true that waterless products are the way to go in creating potent skin care formulations?

Instead of replying to every one of you, I thought of posting my two cents on the forum.

1. Water is not the key factor in creating mold. If water was the key source, then one would have come across mold in bottled water. With all the bottled water sold in the world it would have been reasonable to expect a mold issue at some point, or that the water manufacturers would have had to incorporate mold inhibitors in our water system and bottled waters. Making such statements not only misinforms people, but may invoke unfounded fear. It is not reasonable to deliberately misinform consumers to sell a product.

With regards to mold

… molds grow on dead organic matter everywhere in nature, their presence is only visible to the unaided eye when mold colonies grow. A mold colony does not comprise discrete organisms, but an interconnected network of hyphae called a mycelium. Nutrients and in some cases organelles may be transported throughout the mycelium. In artificial environments like buildings, humidity and temperature are often stable enough to foster the growth of mold colonies, commonly seen as a downy or furry coating growing on food or other surfaces. Some molds can begin growing at temperatures as low as 2°C. When conditions do not enable growth, molds may remain alive in a dormant state depending on the species, within a large range of temperatures before they die. The many different mold species vary enormously in their tolerance to temperature and humidity extremes. Certain molds can survive harsh conditions such as the snow-covered soils of Antarctica, refrigeration, highly acidic solvents, and even petroleum products such as jet fuel.

Good manufacturers of skin care products use a deionized water system coupled with UV lamps as a source of water in their formulations. Not all manufacturers take these extra steps and thus shy away from these types of formulations. It is our assumption that companies that cannot develop a stable water based formulation must have a poor manufacturing facility, or simply not know how to formulate!

2. One of the most important functions of a skin care product is to deliver and maintain moisture (water) in and on the epidermis (skin) for a prolonged amount of time. When it comes to skin, Water (H20) is necessary for the proper transportation of nutrients and messages and for the functioning of enzymes that enable skin to continually replace itself and slough off old, dead cells. In addition to water, effective formulations must also to help maintain a healthy pH on your skin. A waterless (or anhydrous) product has no water or moisture content so it fails to deliver hydration. Secondly, (and anyone who has taken grade 9 science would know this) a waterless product does not have a pH as there are no hydrogen ions floating in the product. pH, is the log of concentration of hydrogen ions and water (H2O is Hydrogen and Oxygen). A formulation with a healthy pH is something to consider when you want to take proper care of your skin. A waterless system does not have a pH. Just last week I was reading more literature on pH, let me share what I found…

--Considering the wealth of knowledge available suggesting that the natural skin pH is significantly lower than 5.5 namely around 4.7, it is surprising that the majority of cosmetic products are still formulated at value of around 6. On one hand, the industry is using active ingredients to help improve the quality of skin, yet on the other hand, sub-optimal cream bases are being used. If the base of a skin care formulation is chosen such that it not only feels right but also does not disturb the natural pH level, effective products can be created. Formulations with a pH of about 4.7 are beneficial for the skin as they maintain or even fortify the skin barrier and support the natural skin flora. At the same time, a pH of 4.0 to 5.0 helps reduce the use of preservatives and stabilizes many cosmetic active ingredients …

We know maintaining and supporting the proper pH on the skin is important (and research indicates that it is very important to youthful and healthy skin). Waterless products are thus not able to help our epidermis with maintaining and balancing its pH.

There is no validity in stating that water stretches the skin or harms the skin. Quite to the contrary, its importance to help with the pH and maintain cellular health are even more recognized.

3. Now this is the most intriguing question of all, as you may know the basic rule of solubility is: “like dissolves like”. That is, an oil based material will dissolve an oil based ingredient. More specifically, water will dissolve water loving ingredients. This is the first important rule that you will lean in an organic chemistry course. Why this is important, is that today many key ingredients are water based ingredients or cosmetic actives. If you do not use water in your formulation, you will not be able to incorporate a water based active in a waterless, or oil based product. This lack of water will make it impossible to incorporate the water based actives. This now leaves you with two possible scenarios: The first scenario is that you will be closing your product development door to almost 70 percent of the great water based and water loving ingredients that are out there. The Second scenario is that if you chose or claim that you are using those water based extracts then by default then you have water in your products!

I hope these responses help to clear up some of this confusion.

A message from your friendly neighborhood Isomers - the humble chemist.

Seek the science facts and not the science fiction and leave the second part to Hollywood!


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Oct 31, 2017
Easy to see why Manuella loves him. ;) That was great, and thank you Lori and Darius. My best, Layla
Oct 31, 2017
Thanks Lori and Darius. I appreciate all the information you provide, and your time in doing so.
Oct 31, 2017
Very informative!I was just reading about this science fiction as daruis said lol on another forum,and now this post! Thanks!
Oct 31, 2017
Darius, Many thanks for the chemistry lesson. There is always room to learn something new. Hope you are all staying warm up there! jill,nyc
Oct 31, 2017
Lori.. I haven't been on in a while... But reading this actually makes sense. There is so much confusing with all the information out in the world of skin care. This a topic I wouldn't fear speaking for myself. But.. there is no doubt people are sensitive to certain ingredients. I also can see the mold question being ask.. I truly believe in Isomers & given us the information we need & education. I hope this helps others. I always tell myself that Isomers is run by the owner, chemist & person who creates products for herself & family.. There is no middle man no fancy packaging. I can only find it two places the Lab.. Shop Nbc. Oh dare I say Ebay. My point is to read a response to peers with fears. Didn't mean for that to rhyme honestly.. Makes me as a Isomers user feel I am in the right place. That when in doubt ask.. There are no stupid questions and you can call the Lab. I have & they were so helpful. Blessings to All... Thank you to Isomers for keeping us informed. Each day is a gift. Always be true to yourself & good to yourself.

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