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Dr. Alpana Mohta Ranka, MD, DNB, IFAAD, is a triple-board-certified dermatologist with over 100 research publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

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Hypochlorous Acid Spray for Skin: Why and How?

Updated: May 25

Hypochlorous acid spray is the new kid on the block! From dermatologists to skinfluencers, everyone's been talking about it. Its broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity helps reduce infection risk and promotes healing in cuts, scrapes, and other skin injuries.


For those who are chemistry enthusiasts, you might know it has a long history. Discovered in 1834, hypochlorous acid, or HOCl, has been utilized in medicine for its disinfectant properties, notably in wound care during World War I​. Okay, let's stop my history lesson right here and start discussing what this is and how it's relevant for skincare.


A woman spraying hypochlorous acid spray on her face with the text "Hypchlorous acid for skin: why and how?"

What is Hypochlorous Acid?

Hypochlorous acid is a naturally occurring substance produced by white blood cells as part of the body's immune response. It is an antimicrobial agent that fights infection and heals wounds. In skin care, hypochlorous acid is synthesized through the electrolysis of a saltwater solution, creating a stable, safe solution used in sprays and other topical applications​.


Benefits of Hypochlorous Acid Spray

1. Antimicrobial Properties

Hypochlorous acid is highly effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Unlike many antimicrobials and antibiotics, it does not lead to microbial resistance. Research shows its effectiveness against extensively drug-resistant and biofilm-producing strains in medical devices and chronic wounds.


It is also effective for bacteria causing acne, folliculitis, and other skin infections without causing irritation or tissue damage, unlike traditional antiseptics like hydrogen peroxide and alcohol.


2. Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Hypochlorous acid helps reduce inflammation and has research-proven benefits for the management of acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, and psoriasis. Its soothing properties can significantly diminish redness and swelling, providing relief for irritated skin​.


3. Promotes Healing

Hypochlorous acid supports the skin’s natural healing processes. A randomized control trial found that it promotes reepithelization and aids wound healing.


It also promotes wound closure and minimizes the risk of scarring, making it an excellent choice for post-procedure care, such as after microneedling or laser treatments​.


4. Safe and Non-Toxic

Hypochlorous acid is non-toxic and safe for all skin types, including sensitive skin and children. Unlike other disinfectants, it does not cause stinging or irritation, even when applied to open wounds. This gentleness is a significant advantage over more traditional antiseptics.


Uses of Hypochlorous Acid Spray

1. Acne Treatment

Hypochlorous acid can help control acne by targeting acne-causing bacteria and reducing inflammation. Regular use can prevent breakouts and promote clearer skin.


2. Wound Care

Hypochlorous acid effectively cleans and disinfects wounds, reduces the risk of infection, and speeds up healing. It is commonly used in hospitals for wound management and can be used at home for minor cuts and scrapes​.


3. Eczema and Psoriasis

The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of hypochlorous acid make it beneficial for managing eczema and psoriasis. It soothes irritated skin and helps prevent secondary infections, providing much-needed relief for those suffering from these chronic conditions.


4. Seborrheic Dermatitis and Dandruff

Hypochlorous acid spray can also benefit people with seborrheic dermatitis. This condition, characterized by greasy scales and patch-like areas, can cause dandruff and other scalp irritations. Hypochlorous acid clears out the flaky skin and reduces inflammation and redness in seborrheic dermatitis.


4. Post-Procedure Care

Hypochlorous acid can be used after cosmetic procedures to reduce inflammation and infection risk, promoting faster recovery. It is particularly useful after treatments like microneedling, radiofrequency, laser therapies, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels​.


5. Daily Skincare

Hypochlorous acid spray also works great as a daily facial mist to keep skin clean, hydrated, and balanced. It’s an excellent addition to any skincare routine, especially if you have oily and acne-prone skin. It's ideal for oily and acne-prone skin, and perfect for use after workouts or in hot, humid conditions.


It cleans pores and protects against environmental contaminants.


6. Disinfecting Makeup Brushes and Sponges

You could also use hypochlorous acid spray to disinfect makeup brushes and sponges between weekly deep cleanings. This reduces the risk of bacterial and fungal growth, ensuring that your makeup tools remain hygienic and safe for reuse.


Safety and Side Effects

Hypochlorous acid is remarkably safe and well-tolerated. It does not cause the irritation, dryness, or sensitivity often associated with traditional antiseptics. However, if you are a beginner, start with just weekly or twice-weekly usage and slowly increase the frequency up to three times a day as needed.


Always verify that the product is intended for skin use and avoid any formulations with added fragrances that might cause irritation​.


Precautions While Using Hypochlorous Acid

  1. Avoid if Sensitive to Chlorine: Do not use hypochlorous acid if you react negatively to chlorine-based products like bleach or chlorinated pool water.

  2. Corrosive to Metals: Hypochlorous acid can corrode metals such as silver, copper, and nickel, which may damage jewelry or other metallic items. Remove such items before use to prevent corrosion.

  3. Proper Storage: Store hypochlorous acid in opaque containers to shield it from UV light, which can break it down into less effective components.

  4. Temperature Control: Ensure the storage area maintains a temperature between 4 and 25°C, and limit exposure to higher temperatures to preserve the product's effectiveness.

  5. Usage Limit: Use the product within 12 months of opening and discard any unused product after this period or if it has expired.


How to Use Hypochlorous Acid Spray

  1. Cleanse: Start with a clean face.

  2. Spray: Hold the bottle a few inches away and spray a fine mist over the skin.

  3. Allow to Dry: Let the solution air dry. No need to rinse.

  4. Don’t Mix With Other Actives: Since hypochlorous acid is a weak acid, its pH can interfere with other actives like vitamin C, AHAs, BHAs, or retinol. However, once it dries down, you can safely apply your active serums. Therefore, don’t mix hypochlorous acid spray with other skincare actives, but you can layer other actives over it.

  5. Follow with Moisturizer: Apply your regular moisturizer to lock in hydration.

  6. Frequency of usage: You can use it one to three times a day.

For wound care, cleanse the area and apply the spray directly. Repeat as needed, depending on the severity of the wound​.


How to Choose the Right Hypochlorous Acid Spray

When selecting a hypochlorous acid spray, look for products with high purity and stability. A concentration of 0.0-0.02% at a pH of 3.5-6 is ideal for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Ensure the product is intended for skin use and check for any added ingredients that may cause irritation.


Best Hypochlorous Acid Sprays for Skin

Based on thorough research and reviews, here are some of the top-recommended hypochlorous acid sprays that are popular for their effectiveness and safety:


This spray is my top recommendation. Its soothing properties make it extremely effective for reducing redness and calming stressed skin. It's pH-balanced and approved by the National Eczema Association, making it suitable for sensitive skin types.

This FDA-cleared product has 0.011% hypochlorous acid. It is particularly recommended for individuals suffering from eczema. It's celebrated for its affordability and effectiveness in managing skin inflammation.


This is a stronger formulation with 0.02% hypochlorous acid. It is ideal for people with extremely sensitive skin, active acne, or severe eczema. The manufacturers claim that it is a vegan, organic, fragrance-free, alcohol-free, and hypoallergenic formula.


Some Frequently Asked Questions


Is hypochlorous acid safe in pregnancy?

Yes, hypochlorous acid is considered safe during pregnancy. It is a non-toxic, natural substance produced by the body's white blood cells and has been used safely in medical settings.


What is hypochlorous acid spray used for?

Hypochlorous acid spray is commonly used for its disinfectant properties, effectively killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi on surfaces. It's is used in skincare to reduce inflammation, heal wounds, and treat conditions like acne due to its antimicrobial properties.


How to make hypochlorous acid spray for skin?

Hypochlorous acid is produced through a process called electrolysis, where an electric current is applied to a solution of saltwater (sodium chloride and water). The electric current changes the chemical composition of the solution, separating the chloride from the sodium and binding it to a hydrogen and oxygen molecule to form HOCl.


While mixing salt and water and applying an electric current might seem simple, making hypochlorous acid at home is not practical or advisable because this process requires precise conditions, including specific voltages, electrode materials, and solution concentrations, to produce a stable and effective solution.


What is the best hypochlorous acid spray?

The best hypochlorous acid spray depends on its intended use. For skin care, my top recommendations are Tower 28 Beauty SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray, SkinSmart Antimicrobial Eczema Therapy Spray, and Curativa Bay Hypochlorous Skin Spray.


What are the side effects of hypochlorous acid?

Hypochlorous acid is generally safe and without significant side effects for most people. However, direct contact with high concentrations can cause mild skin irritation or a temporary burning sensation.


Can I use hypochlorous acid spray with skincare actives like vitamin C?

You can use hypochlorous acid spray with skincare actives such as vitamin C. To incorporate it effectively into your routine, apply the hypochlorous acid spray first and allow it to fully dry before applying any active ingredients. Hypochlorous acid is fast-acting, and once it dries, it won't interfere with other skincare products, including vitamin C serums.

 

How often should I use hypochlorous acid spray?

Hypochlorous acid spray can be used one to three times daily after cleansing and moisturizing for skin care. Follow specific product guidelines or medical advice for wound care or as a disinfectant.


How long is hypochlorous acid spray stable?

Hypochlorous acid spray should be used within 12 months of opening, as its stability is affected by exposure and storage conditions. Store it between 4 and 25°C, and although short periods of higher temperatures (up to 40°C) are tolerable for brief durations, prolonged exposure can degrade the product. To prevent breakdown, store hypochlorous acid in an opaque container away from UV light, as light can cause it to decompose into hydrochloric acid and oxygen.


Is hypochlorous acid safe for sensitive skin?

Yes, hypochlorous acid is safe and beneficial for sensitive skin due to its gentle, non-irritating properties. It helps soothe inflammation and kill bacteria without drying out the skin.


Does hypochlorous acid react with anything?

Hypochlorous acid can react with organic material and some chemicals, reducing its effectiveness as a disinfectant. For best results, only apply it to clean skin.


Does hypochlorous acid kill good bacteria?

Hypochlorous acid does not significantly disrupt the skin's natural microbiome at low concentrations typically found in skincare sprays. At concentrations around 0.01-0.02%, it only kills harmful bacteria.

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