H2 for skin

The desire to have healthy, elastic, wrinkle-free, and young looking skin dates back to primeval times.1 One of the ways (which is still used today) to try and accomplish this is the ancient practice of bathing in springs and mineral waters.2 However, unlike most conventional practices of lotions, creams, oils, powders and other cosmetics that may not help and/or even have negative side effects,3-10 bathing in specific waters that have reductive characteristics seems to have great therapeutic application.11

girlh2One study12 tested a mineral water with reductive characteristics (most likely due to dissolved molecular hydrogen) and a prepared water containing molecular hydrogen. The results revealed that bathing in both of these waters decreased the oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) of human skin.12 This is an important observation because healthy skin has reductive characteristics,13 and the ORP of the skin increases by oxidative damage (from sun exposure) and also by aging (as measured by lipid-peroxide levels). 14 This relationship between redox potentials of the skin and aging has been investigated in more detail and shows that reductive waters lower the oxidation of the skin.15,16

Bathing in hydrogen water not only reduced the ORP of skin,17 but also improved its elasticity. Moreover, treating bleached hair with this water gave an improvement in fluency and gloss.17


One group of researchers18 gave hairless mice sunburns. They bathed one group in tap water and the other in hydrogen water. The skin of the mice bathed in hydrogen water showed significantly lower indices of skin injury and lower inflammatory cytokine levels.18 Another group of researchers performed a similar study19 and found that bathing mice in hydrogen water reduced the level of skin damage, increased activity of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase, lowered inflammatory cytokines, and prevented ultrastructure changes of the skin, suggesting hydrogen water can protect against UV-induced skin cell damage.19

This was further validated in another article20 where hydrogen water was shown to be very beneficial for UV induced skin cell damage. The study showed that Type-1 collagen was synthesized about two-fold more in the cells treated with hydrogen water. It also prevented DNA damage, cell death, and decreased levels of intracellular free radicals.  The study also reveals that in human subjects, bathing in hydrogen water for three months significantly improved wrinkles in the skin.  The authors concluded that hydrogen water might serve as a daily skin care to repress UVA-induced skin damage by scavenging free radicals and promoting type-1 collagen synthesis.20

Hydrogen water was also seen to prevent arsenic-impaired calcium signaling (which is involved in skin cancer) in keratinocytes (predominate cell type in skin) through both its antioxidant and non-antioxidant cell signaling effects.21 In other words, hydrogen not only exerts protection and benefits on the skin because it’s an antioxidant,22 but also as a cell signaling molecule.23


Somewhat ironically, proponents of ionized water advocate using the oxidizing acidic water from the anode,24 as opposed to the reducing water with molecular hydrogen from the cathode. As discussed here, this acidic water is touted as being an astringent for the skin and often referred to as “beauty water”.25  The idea is that because the skin pH is slightly acidic26 then the logical choice would be to use slightly acidic water for the skin. There may be some valid research for this concept to some extent27 simply because high pH water can have negative effects on the skin.

The main problem in using this acidic water from an ionizer is that it generally contains hypochlorous acid (click here for how), which is a strong oxidizer.28 Obviously, this is not the best choice for youthful, young-looking skin.29

The problem with using the reducing (alkaline) water is that its high pH is not good for your skin.27 However, this can easily be overcome by adding a few drops of lemon juice (or other organic acids) to the alkaline water. This gives you the acidic pH and the benefits of molecular hydrogen. The lemon juice itself may also exert beneficial effects.30


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  11. KATO, S., SAITOH, Y., IWAI, K. & MIWA, N. (2012). Hydrogen-rich electrolyzed warm water represses wrinkle formation against UVA ray together with type-I collagen production and oxidative-stress diminishment in fibroblasts and cell-injury prevention in keratinocytes. J Photochem Photobiol B 106, 24-33.
  12. Shiochi Okouchi, et al. Electrolyzed-Reduced Water as Artificial Hot Spring Water. Journal of the Balneological Society of Japan. V 53, No. 1, p. 1-9 2003)
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  14. H. Meffert, et al. Stable lipid peroixidation products in human skin: detection, ultraviolet light-induced increase, pathogenic importance. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. V 32, No. 11, p. 1397-1398
  15. OKOUCHI SHOICHI, et al. Relationships between ORP (Redox Potentials) and pH in Hot and Cold Spring Waters and in Human Skins. Journal of the Balneological Society of Japan. V 49. No. 2, p. 59-64. 1999
  16. OKOUCHI, SHOICHI, et al. “; Relationship between ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential) and pH in Spring Waters of Carbon Dioxide Type.” Journal of the Balneological Society of Japan 50.2 (2000): 94-101.
  17. Shochi Ocouchi, Hideyuki Ohnami, et al. Effect of Electrolyzed-Reduced Water as Artificial Hot Spring Water on Human Skin and Hair. Journal of the Balneological Society of Japan. V 55. No. 2, p. 55-63. 2005
  18. YOON, K. S., HUANG, X. Z., YOON, Y. S., KIM, S. K., SONG, S. B., CHANG, B. S., KIM, D. H. & LEE, K. J. (2011). Histological study on the effect of electrolyzed reduced water-bathing on UVB radiation-induced skin injury in hairless mice. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 34, 1671-7.
  19. IGNACIO, R. M., YOON, Y. S., SAJO, M. E. J., KIM, C. S., KIM, D. H., KIM, S. K. & LEE, K. J. (2013). The balneotherapy effect of hydrogen reduced water on UVB-mediated skin injury in hairless mice. Molecular & Cellular Toxicology 9, 15-21.
  20. KATO, S., SAITOH, Y., IWAI, K. & MIWA, N. (2012). Hydrogen-rich electrolyzed warm water represses wrinkle formation against UVA ray together with type-I collagen production and oxidative-stress diminishment in fibroblasts and cell-injury prevention in keratinocytes. J Photochem Photobiol B 106, 24-33.
  21. YU, W. T., CHIU, Y. C., LEE, C. H., YOSHIOKA, T. & YU, H. S. (2013). Hydrogen-enriched water restoration of impaired calcium propagation by arsenic in primary keratinocytes. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 77, 342-348.
  22. OHSAWA, I., ISHIKAWA, M., TAKAHASHI, K., WATANABE, M., NISHIMAKI, K., YAMAGATA, K., KATSURA, K., KATAYAMA, Y., ASOH, S. & OHTA, S. (2007). Hydrogen acts as a therapeutic antioxidant by selectively reducing cytotoxic oxygen radicals. Nat Med 13, 688-694.
  23. ITOH, T., HAMADA, N., TERAZAWA, R., ITO, M., OHNO, K., ICHIHARA, M. & NOZAWA, Y. (2011). Molecular hydrogen inhibits lipopolysaccharide/interferon gamma-induced nitric oxide production through modulation of signal transduction in macrophages. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 411, 143-9.
  24. Bulletin of the Monitoring and Guidance Dept. of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Pharmaceutical Monitoring Vol. 57, issued on October 19, 1992
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  28. Harris, Daniel C. Quantitative chemical analysis. Macmillan, 2010.
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  30. Calabrese, V., et al. “Oxidative stress and antioxidants at skin biosurface: a novel antioxidant from lemon oil capable of inhibiting oxidative damage to the skin.” Drugs under experimental and clinical research 25.6 (1998): 281-287.