Why You Should Try Electrolyte-Infused Skincare

Electrolytes are probably the first thing you reach for when you go for a run or hit the gym. They're probably also the remedy your doctor ordered the last time you got sick with a stomach bug. Generally, electrolytes are known as a component of sports drinks and other rehydration beverages, and though they might sound mysterious, they're actually pretty simple. Minerals including sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium are all examples of electrolytes, and they each carry either a positive or negative electric charge that helps the body stay hydrated and function properly (via Cleveland Clinic).

Your skin is one body part that can benefit from electrolytes, though you don't have to guzzle Gatorade to get glowy skin. Meet electrolyte-infused skincare. Just as you might sip electrolyte-rich drinks when feeling parched, one way to boost dry or dehydrated skin could be slathering on topical products containing electrically charged minerals.

For beauty junkies, this isn't exactly a novel concept; electrolytes were being touted as "the new big skincare trend" in 2020, according to The Telegraph. Electrolytes may still not be mainstream enough yet to have made it into your skincare cabinet — but that's all about to change. Here's how these minerals could transform your skin and what products to look for.

How electrolytes work for your skin

Between antioxidants, chemical exfoliators, collagen boosters, and a dizzying number of other skincare ingredients on the market, do you really need to add electrolytes to the list? Actually, yes, according to some experts. "When skin loses electrolytes, it looks and feels depleted," Desiree Stordahl, Senior Research & Education Manager for skincare brand Paula's Choice, revealed to Elle. "Electrolytes in skincare step in to replenish that moisture balance and strengthen skin's barrier."

Moisture and a bulletproof skin barrier (the outer layer of skin that protects the body but can also be highly susceptible to damage) are reasons enough to try electrolyte-infused skincare, but these products don't stop there. "Skin cells are optimized when electrolytes are optimized, and they are able to use other actives if they are optimally functioning," Dr. Morgan Rabach, board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of skin and cosmetic clinic LM Medical, explained to InStyle. Translation: Electrolytes boost the efficacy of the other skincare ingredients you have in your lineup.

Keep in mind, though, that electrolyte-loaded skincare hasn't been around as long as some other tried-and-true products, meaning more research is needed to understand exactly how these hydrators work. Still, as Dr. Bruce Robinson, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology, told Healthline, "On paper, it makes sense." Expect electrolyte skincare formulas to continue to improve with time.

What to look for in electrolyte-infused products

Clearly, you wouldn't rub your post-workout drink on your face, but that doesn't mean just any made-for-your-skin product claiming to have electrolytes is a good idea either. For one, electrolytes alone might not be enough to rescue dull, thirsty skin. "The skin is very finicky sometimes, so it only lets certain things in. That's why it's a good protective barrier," Dr. Bruce Robinson explained to Healthline. "In order for mineral electrolytes to penetrate and reach the deeper layers of skin, they need to be linked to a skin-identical molecule." These include lactate, gluconate, and pyroglutamic acid (PCA) — so scan skincare labels for these terms before making a purchase.

Additionally, while some ingredients may be known as electrolyte powerhouses, like coconut water, they might not be as effective when applied to the skin — at least not without the right formula to back them up. "['Electrolyte-charged' coconut water and seaweed] are great sources of electrolytes — when you drink or eat them," Paula Begoun, founder of Paula's Choice, shared with Glamour. "But in skincare, make sure they're formulated with PCA or one of its brethren to get the electrolyte benefits."

And by the way, you don't have to overhaul your entire skincare routine with electrolyte-infused steps. Because these minerals are great for locking in hydration, start with swapping your current moisturizer for one containing electrolytes.