“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” (Lao Tzu)
Solvent – has the ability to dissolve and/or disperse other substances.
Water is used as a base for the oily compounds to be mixed in, with the help of an emulsifier. This allows a formulation to have the creamy and luscious sensation that we all enjoy in our products. Without water, we would be putting thick oil on our faces—hardly a pleasant experience!
History of Use:
Humble yet vital, water is quite probably the most important ingredient on the planet. For as long as there has been life on Earth, there has been water-- essential to the sustenance of all forms of species and civilizations. The use of water in cosmetic formulations can be traced back to thousands of years ago when the Ancient Greeks would add water to their honey and olive oil masks to make the formula more pleasant and easily spreadable. By around 19th century, the concept of emulsions slowly replaced ointments, this meant using an emulsifier ingredient that would allow for water and oils to be mixed together without separating. Water based emulsions, such as floral waters, became an integral part of skincare formulations. These often consisted of bee-wax and plant oils in need of a solvent.
Water is known as the “universal solvent”, pertaining to its ability to dissolve more substances than any other chemical. This is due to water’s chemical composition that gives it a unique physical characteristic - its polarity. Water is made up of one Oxygen and two Hydrogen molecules arranged in a bent manner. This arrangement means that one end of the water has a slightly positive charge, while the other end is more negatively charged. This dual-charge-polarity means that water can be attracted to many different types of compounds with various opposite charges---the Oxygen side would attract the positive, and the Hydrogen would attract the negatively charged. If this attraction between water and another compound becomes strong enough, then the forces holding the other compound together will be overcome and broken, which allows it to dissolve in water.
What does this wonderful solvent ability mean for your cosmetic formula? It means that using water as a base allows the different compounds to dissolve in the formula, and let the active ingredients be soaked up by your skin.
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