Hypochlorous Acid Spray: Meet the Bacteria-Busting Skin Savior

Hypochlorous Acid Spray: Meet the Bacteria-Busting Skin Savior featured image
Tower 29

Hypochlorous acid sounds like an intense skin-care ingredient, but we’re going to break it down for you. Your skin naturally produces hypochlorous acid when it’s trying to fight off infections, explain cosmetic chemists Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu. It’s a “weak acid that’s used as an antimicrobial because of its ability to break apart cell membranes,” they add. They say it’s in skin care or cleaning agents. You were likely using it during COVID while disinfecting. It also had a big moment combating maskne at the height of the pandemic. It’s naturally found in white blood cells, says Founder and CEO of Tower 28 Amy Liu. There, it helps combat inflammation and harmful bacteria. It’s long been used by doctors in wound healing, she adds. The ingredient is now trending in over-the-counter acne and eczema products.

Hypochlorous acid in skin care

“Our innate immune system uses it to kill invading pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi. Exogenous hypochlorous acid has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, notes New York dermatologist Hadley King, MD. She notes that studies have demonstrated hypochlorous acid promotes re-epithelialization in wound healing, with low cytotoxicity to skin cells. “Wound specialists use hypochlorous for abrasions, burns, post-op care and scar prevention,” says president and CEO of Simple Science, Mike Schreiber.

“More recently, dermatologists have been recommending hypochlorous acid for chronic breakouts, eczema, dermal aftercare, skin fatigue, and bumpy skin. The benefits for your skin are endless,” says Schreiber. “Try it for piercing aftercare, prickly allergy-prone skin, hormonal breakouts, post-gym cleansing, pore tightening, itchy scalp, rashy cheeks, skin detox, morning hydration and more.”

Fu and Lu say it’s a skin-soother and an antimicrobial, which can help reduce acne breakouts. “When used in skin care, it triggers an immune boost, signaling your body to repair and soothe a myriad of skin irritations, including acne, sunburn and eczema. It’s both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial,” explains Liu.

“Bacteria on the skin can often lead to flares of eczema, so treatments that help to limit potentially harmful bacteria on the skin can be helpful for preventing and treating eczema,” says Dr. King. Dilute bleach baths are a popular option for eczema “but an easier option is to use hypochlorous acid, which kills bacteria in the same way that bleach does, but without bleaching fabric or otherwise being difficult to use,” she notes. Plus, “we don’t worry about microbial resistance the way we do with topical or oral antibiotics.”

Formulator and CEO of Elina Organics, Elina Fedotova, notes that in high concentrations it can be damaging. However, when formulated correctly by a professional “in a very diluted form, it is not damaging to the skin and can effectively reduce inflammation by killing pathogens and calm severely inflamed complexions,” says Fedotova. Therefore, she considers hypochlorous acid treatments more like medicine used short term versus using it as part of your everyday regimen.

Skin-care products to try with hypochlorous acid

“Probably one of the most notable skin-care products with hypochlorous acid is Tower 28 SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray ($28). We’d say it’s a great starting place to see if this works for you,” say Fu and Lu. The bottle of hypochlorous acid has been viral online and Hailey Bieber is even a fan. It’s a super gentle and PH balanced formula. “It works wonders on angry, stressed out skin from head to toe,” says Liu of one of the first products she formulated when creating the brand. She says it saved her skin amidst severe eczema.

Due to the success, Tower 28 ended up expanding to create a more targeted serum ($34). Additionally, “These two products both have the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance. I recommend them to anyone looking to achieve happier, healthy-looking skin,” says Liu. Dr. King backs up the Tower 28 recommendations as well.

Dr. King recommends FDA-cleared Eczemol OTC Topical Spray ($31), “an easy spray option to deliver hypochlorous acid in a non-irritating formulation.” It’s great for eczema, itch, acne, hand sanitizing etc. She also notes S’eau Prima Foundational Face Mist ($48) as another option.

SkinSmart Antimicrobial makes several hypochlorous acid sprays that are rigorously tested, FDA-cleared, affordable and made in the USA, says Schreiber. He suggests SkinSmart Antimicrobial Eczema Therapy ($18) for eczema sufferers. Additionally, to add hypochlorous acid to your everyday skin-care regimen, try SkinSmart’s Facial Cleanser ($18). A TikTok favorite, this light mist is great alternative to stinging toners, and perfect for post-gym cleansing,” says Schreiber.

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