The believe that thermal water has health giving properties can be found in many places in the world as well as distinct times of human history. There are many examples of empiric evidences of its health properties as well as myths and miracles which provoke a great confusion of what are really the properties of thermal water. In this article we will go trough some studies, public information of retail thermal water products and my own opinion so you can decide to include them or not into your beauty regime.

First, What is thermal water?

Thermal water is mineral water that come from thermal springs. Thermal water is strongly linked with geothermal activity. The composition of the water depends on the soil structure in which flows as well as the temperature at which is exposed. Thermal water can be classified in several categories considering the temperature at what it flows out from the ground, the amount of disolved substances in the water and the chemical composition.

There is a great link between the composition of the water and the location where it flows out. Each thermal water has its one unique composition that varies slightly overtime as is a natural mixture.

What is in thermal water sprays?

Here a table of the composition found in the more popular thermal water sprays (data collected from Bacle et al., Int J Dermatol 1999, brand marketing materials):

Composition (mg/L or ppm) Avène La Roche-Posay Vichy Uriage
Total dry residue 207 444 5120 11000
Sodium 4.8 10 1860 2360
Potassium 0.7 2.2 99.6 45.5
Calcium 42.7 140 150.6 600
Magnesium 21.2 4.9 12.3 125
Chlorides 5.4 25 357 3500
Bicarbonates 226.7 396 4776.3 402
Sulfates 14 30 Trace 2862
Nitrates 1.4 Trace Trace < 100
Silica (SiO2) 10.6 30 42
Selenium 0.060
Strontium 0.260
Zinc 0.022 0.16
Copper 0.005 0.075
Manganese 0.154
Iron 0.015
pH 7.4 6.9 7.00 6.77

The first thing to notice is the great difference of the dry residue. Uriage is the most highly mineralised water with 55 times more mineral content than Avène, which has the lower one.

We can see a “-” character in the table when the brand does not provide the concentration of a specific compound. It is quite normal as each brand likes to highlight some of the components so it reinforces the marketing message behind.

What can canned thermal water do for your skin?

I have done a bit of research to get a scientific idea of what can be expected from those products. I have to admit it was hard to find something serious, but I eventually did. In any case, I realised that all studies I came across are actually sponsored by the companies that sold them, so they should be taken with a pinch of salt. Avène and La Roche-Posey are the products with more published studies speak about, which does not mean they are better products or not, just that more information is out there. Many of the studies I found are not performed on human but they are in-vitro. This actually gives you a limited vision of what are the real benefits of these waters.

Considering these non-independent studies, thermal water contain antiradical properties, helps  immunomodulatory and antiinflammatory capacities, slows the development of ultraviolet B-induced skin tumors, helps to treat psoriasis, scars and ocular nanoinfections.

The funny thing of the studies I real is that the testing conditions are almost impossible to reproduce at home with a thermal water spry. As an example some of the properties before named are proven when by applying high-pressure showers or specific diets that include drinking thermal water daily.

In other words, a bit confusing for my taste… which is a bit sad. :(

Will I buy canned thermal water?

Actually I do. I am not expecting miracles or any of the promises given by the brands. I like to use thermal water because of the freshness effect I got after applying it, specially in the summer or after exercise. I specially like those highly mineralised ones as I can leave them dry out on my face without feeling tighten skin.

The other reason is that I realised it helps to set the makeup on my face in a more natural way. After doing the makeup I just spray over my face a bit of water and voilà, I got a finest finishing.

I hope those tips are useful for you.

Iwona Urbanka



Studies Reference

F Beauvais, JL Garcia-Mace & F Joly, In vitro effects of Uriage spring water on the apoptosis of human eosinophils1998.

C Merial-Kieny, N Castex-Rizzi, B Selas, S Mery & D Guerrero, Avène Thermal Spring Water: an active component with specific properties, 2011.

S Seite, Thermal waters as cosmeceuticals: La Roche-Posay thermal spring water example2013.


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