Different Water Used in Cosmetic Formulating

There are a wide variety of water types that you can use when formulating cosmetics.  Distilled, deionized, purified or tap water are all options for cosmetic formulators.  Here is the difference between all of them.cosmetic water

Tap water – When you get the water right from the drinking fountain or city water supply, it’s filled with a small amount of metal and mineral ions.  Often this will not have any effect on your cosmetic formula but it can especially if you are using any soap based ingredient.  Since you can’t control the level of ions in a formula it’s best to formulate with something that is a little better purified than tap water.

Distilled water – This is the oldest form of purifying water.  In this process water is boiled in a still.  The vapor is collected in a condenser and cooled to reform the water.  Theoretically, it removes all traces of contaminants except those that boil at a temperature lower than water such as some alcohols.  It also will absorb Carbon Dioxide from the air so the pH will typically be lower (pH 4.5 – 5.0).

Deionized water – This is water in which the non-water related ions have been removed.  Tap water is usually filled with ions from the soil including sodium, calcium & magnesium plus metal ions from the pipes such as iron and copper.  It is deionized by sending it through an ion exchange column which is a tube that contains a resin which will selectively bind with ions in water.  Ionized water goes in and deionized water comes out.  This process doesn’t remove organic contaminants, viruses or bacteria.

Demineralized water – This water is sent through an ion exchange process.  It’s pretty much the same thing as deionized water.  There really is no difference when it comes to formulating cosmetics.

Ultra Pure water – When you want just pure H2O this is what you want.  The water is first demineralized then it is sent through an electrodeionization process.  This is great for electronics and pharmaceuticals.  It’s probably over-kill for cosmetics.

There you have it, all the different water you might use when making cosmetic formulas.  It’s important to note that whatever water you use if you are making a cosmetic the only proper way to list it is on the ingredient list is WATER.

36 thoughts on “Different Water Used in Cosmetic Formulating

  1. Avatar
    Chandni Tholiya says:

    Hi, is it necessary to formulate any skin products with distilled water ?? can i use drinking water to formulate the products .
    Like boiling the drinking water letting it cool down & then using it for formulation !!
    What difference it will make ??

  2. Avatar
    Venus says:

    Hi Perry,
    Thanks for the useful information.
    Wonder if the mineral and/or electrolyte contained in the drinking water will affect the cosmetics ingredients performance? E.g: electrolyte sensitive ingredients? Also, do we need more preservative if we are using normal filtered drinking water?

    Appreciate your reply.

    Thank you

    • Avatar
      Perry Romanowski says:

      Yes, electrolyte content can affect some cosmetic formulas. For example, it can make emulsions less stable. You always need enough preservative to make sure microbes don’t grow in your product. This is true no matter what water you are using. And it is not a simple matter to say deionized water need less preservative than tap water. Preservation is more complicated than that.

  3. Avatar
    Felix says:

    Hi Perry. My lotion is taking too long to rub and disappear on the skin. How can I reverse this and make the lotion disappear with one or two rubs on the skin?

  4. Avatar
    Edrian says:

    Hi Perry,

    I have few questions regarding a product that was suggested to me.
    1.Where does “High functional reducing ionic water electrolyzed(S-100) from JAPAN” can be classified?
    2.they are promoting it as preservative free system at alkali pH, is there a such formulation?
    3. How does it stack up with other preservative system?

    thank you in advance for your response.

    • Avatar
      Perry Romanowski says:

      1. I don’t know. I’ve not used that water but I guess it would be deionized water
      2. You would still need preservatives in your formula no matter what water you use.
      3. It’s not a preservative system.

  5. Avatar
    Olaide says:

    Hi Perry, thanks for this information.
    I heard water gotten from air conditioner discharge is distilled.. I don’t know if it’s safe to collect and use for my hair care formulas. My 2nd question is if there are microbes in the water can I just go ahead and use and hope my preservatives takes care of them or I need to make sure the water is microbe free.

    • Avatar
      Perry Romanowski says:

      No. Don’t use water you know is contaminated! That is the number one rule of product preservation. Don’t start with a contaminated product.
      I wouldn’t use air conditioner discharged water.

  6. Avatar
    Emily Grierson says:

    Hi perry I am thinking of formulating face products using thermal water (from source). would I need to distill it and if so would this remove all the mineral content? is there a purification proccess that doesn’t remove minerals and if so would having minerals in the product affect the stability? thankyou hope to hear back from you, kind regards Emily

    • Avatar
      Perry Romanowski says:

      Distilling the water would remove all the minerals. You could boil the water to kill off any microbes. You could also irradiate it to kill microbes. You have to be able to show the water is safe.

  7. Avatar
    Danni says:

    Hi Perry, thanks for this information!

    Can you use ozone-purified water? I’m using “Kemidant L Plus” (from akema.it) as a preservative. My non-comedogenic formula uses Aloe Vera with glycerin at a 6-1 ratio and less than 3% hemp/argan oils with hyaluronic acid…

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Avatar
      Perry Romanowski says:

      You can. It just might result in some stability issues, but maybe not. It depends on the quality of the mineral water.

  8. Avatar
    Oluwaseun Oluloro says:

    Thank you so much for the effort you have put in this forum.
    I will like to know if boiling water to 100 degrees Celsius and filtering it will make my formulation safe across a range of products, because I cannot afford a deionizer at this time?
    Or what is the best way to get cheap and safe water for my products that will be for commercial sales?
    Thank you.

    • Avatar
      Perry Romanowski says:

      It depends on the quality of the water you are using. Boiling will kill microbes but it won’t do anything for the metal ions in the water. For that you’ll need to include a chealating agent.

  9. Avatar
    Brenda says:

    Hi Perry fantastic advice thank you!!!! I am making a diy Lascorbic acid serum for myself and friends. I purchased deionised water for this as apparently it would be more stable for the LAA? I am also making Hyaluronic acid serum/ and a homemade rose water spray. Can I use the deionised water for those two products aswell or would distilled water be better? PS…I don’t mind boiling the deionised water if need be? Thanking you in advance!

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