What is hypochlorous acid? | POPSUGAR Beauty

  • You may start noticing hypochlorous acid listed on your skin care products.
  • Hypochlorous acid is a naturally occurring molecule in the body, but it can also be made for skin care.
  • The skincare ingredient has many benefits, from reducing inflammation to killing bacteria.

If you’re someone who reads your beauty product packaging, you might notice a new ingredient being called out. Along with star skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, hypochlorous acid is starting to pop up more and more — but what is it? And what does it do?

To start, let’s make one thing clear: hypochlorous acid is not necessarily a New ingredient, just like niacinamide was around long before we started hearing everyone talk about it on TikTok. Hypochlorous acid just hasn’t had time to shine – until now. There’s a lot this skincare ingredient can do, so it’s no surprise that you’re going to start seeing more and more products formulated with it. To get the inside scoop on hypochlorous acid, keep reading.

What is hypochlorous acid?

Hypochlorous acid, abbreviated as HOCl, can actually be found in the body as a naturally occurring molecule. “We’ve known about hypochlorous acid for a long time,” dual-board certified plastic surgeon Kelly Killeen, MD, FACS, told POPSUGAR. “It’s what your white blood cells make to fight infections and kill bacteria and viruses.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “HOCl attacks invading pathogens, breaking down cell walls before destroying unhealthy invaders.”

But the hypochlorous acid in your beauty products does not come from the body. “We’ve replicated HOCl in a high-quality formula that replicates the skin’s ability to protect and repair itself,” says Karen Hayes, CEO and co-founder of S’eau Prima. “It’s a powerful molecule that naturally restores skin to a healthy state.”

The benefits of hypochlorous acid

Hypochlorous acid is commonly used in the medical field, holding a variety of benefits for the skin. It can soothe irritation, reduce inflammation, improve the skin’s moisture barrier, protect against environmental aggressors, and balance the skin’s pH levels. But its long list of benefits doesn’t end there.

“There has been a lot of talk in the plastic surgery world about its use as irrigation around implants, as it kills bacteria and prevents biofilms and is safe to use inside the body,” explains the Dr Killeen. “But also to treat minor wound issues like spitting sutures, which is a chronic problem in plastic surgery patients.”

What is unique about hypochlorous acid is that it can be used just about anywhere. “It’s a great ingredient because it’s super safe,” says Dr. Killeen. “You can get it in patients’ eyes, nose, ears, mouths, any orifice, and it won’t hurt them, which is really rare for disinfectants and antiseptics.”

This is also why many piercers recommend the aftercare ingredient to clean the puncture hole and prevent infection.


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♬ Eagle Arm – Chris Alan Lee

Using hypochlorous acid on sensitive skin

Unlike some ingredients that are great but not so good for those with easily irritated or sensitive skin, hypochlorous acid really can be used by everyone, including those who suffer from eczema and rosacea. “It is non-tissue damaging, safe for acne-prone skin, and accepted by the National Eczema Association,” board-certified dermatologist Muneeb Shah, MD, said in a TikTok video about the ingredient.

Dr. Killeen says she has seen hypochlorous acid used primarily in two ways. The first has to do with reducing the risk of infection. “It reduces the number of bacteria, it reduces the number of fungi, the number of viruses,” she says. “It just keeps the critters out, which is really helpful when you have any type of skin problem. Because eczema is bad enough, but eczema infection makes it worse 10 time.” The same can be said for acne and psoriasis.

The second most common use of hypochlorous acid is inflammation by preventing the release of histamine. “When you have hives or an allergic reaction, your body releases histamine, and that’s what causes the swelling,” says Dr. Killeen. “Hypochlorous acid does a very good job of preventing that from happening.”

Best Hypochlorous Acid Products

A little hypochlorous acid goes a long way, but it needs to be used regularly to see results – think frequency rather than quantity. You can find it in a variety of different product types, from face mists, like Foundational Face Mist ($48), to serums, like SOS Intensive Redness Relief Serum ($34).

“It’s a choice of form – we know that hypochlorous acid works best as a face mist because it’s easy to apply, it provides an even application of the ingredient, and it helps other products you use look better. absorb, which makes them more effective,” Hayes says.

Tower 28 first launched with a face mist called SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray ($28) before moving into a serum format. “The serum has been amazing for a lot of patients who already love the spray – [it] takes it to the next level,” says Dr. Killeen.

Simply apply it – either by spraying it directly onto the skin or by patting it on – and go about your day while the hypochlorous acid works its magic.

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