I Washed My Face With Seltzer to See Whether All the Hype Is Actually True

Wendy Rose Gould
Cleansing with sparkling water is particularly trendy in Korea and Japan, two countries that have gifted us with a wealth of skincare innovations. Here’s what happened when we tried washing our face with seltzer.

Yep, skincare’s latest “it ingredient” is sparkling water.

As a self-proclaimed skincare junkie, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’ve introduced a lot of wacky ingredients into my skincare regimen over the years. Bright yellow turmeric is a notable example, as are ingredients like matcha, coffee grounds, egg yolks, and even mayonnaise. Perhaps the least messy of them all is sparkling water, which people have apparently been using as a face wash.

Yep, I’m talking about carbonated beverages that purr delightfully the second you crack them open. All that fizzy action has to go somewhere, so why not your face? Splurgey oxygen facials at luxe salons are totally a thing, as are bubbly face masks that expand on your face until they reach comical-cloud proportions. I’ve indulged in both (Bliss Spa’s Triple Oxygen Facial is legendary) and each left my skin noticeably more radiant. Eager to see if washing my face with seltzer water could do the same, I reached out to a few skincare experts for some input and even tried out seltzer cleansing myself.

Are There Benefits to Washing Your Face With Sparkling Water?

Cleansing with seltzer water is particularly trendy in Korea and Japan right now, two countries that have gifted us with a wealth of skincare innovations. It’s no wonder that the Western world has been quick to experiment with the bubbly action, and now people across the globe swear by it.

“There are basically three [claimed] benefits to using seltzer on your face,” says Dr. Adarsh Mudgil, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in New York. “First, its slightly acidic pH matches that of our skin. Second, the fizz factor helps to clean the skin and unclog pores more than non-sparkling water. Finally, the carbon dioxide content helps to improve circulation to the skin's surface.”

But does the process of washing your face with sparkling water actually live up to the claims? Mudgil says that “it certainly can’t hurt” to try it out, and Dr. Hal Weitzbuch, a board-certified dermatologist based in Calabasas, California, agrees. If it’s working for you, then there’s no harm in keeping it in your regimen.

“However, if anyone decides to do this treatment, they should use plain seltzer water that doesn’t have any sweetener or flavor, as [additional ingredients] may cause issues on the skin,” Weitzbuch says. So save your tangerine LaCroix for drinking.

Basically, neither dermatologist we spoke to felt compelled enough to say that cleansing with seltzer was a sure thing that definitely works, neither wagged their finger at the idea, either. Perhaps in a few years’ time, with a compelling study or two out there, we’ll have a more concise answer.

Putting Sparkling Water Cleansing to the Test

You’ve got a few different options when it comes to washing your face with seltzer water. The first is to use it like a toner following your regular cleanser. Simply splash it onto your face, spritz it on with a spray bottle, or dab onto your skin with a cotton ball. An alternative option, which allows the seltzer to really penetrate your pores, is to dip your face in a seltzer water bath for about five to 10 seconds.

In the name of beauty, I tried both the splash method and the dip method. While the latter was probably more effective, the splash method was a better fit for me. First of all, it felt a lot less wasteful since I was only using a small handful of sparkling water at a time versus dumping an entire bottle into a bowl. Second, the tingly sensation was almost too much in the dip method—to the point that I’d even say it stung. I still got that bubbly carbonated sensation by splashing, but not to an extreme effect.

Interestingly, the tingling sensation felt more noticeable on my cheeks and chin versus my nose and forehead. I’m not sure of the reasoning, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s because my cheek and chin tend to be more congested. After washing my face with seltzer water, my skin did seem to feel slightly more energized and “fresh.” I do think there’s something to the 5.5 pH (the same pH as our skin) because my face felt very balanced. Not squeaky dry or too oily, just comfortable.

As for the glow factor, if there was a major difference, I didn’t notice it either immediately or in the hours that followed. When comparing the DIY seltzer cleanse to an oxygen facial or even an inexpensive bubble mask, the service and product were definitely superior in terms of generating serious, notable glow. Still, my skin felt good after the seltzer cleanse and that might just matter more.

In the end, I’d say that the seltzer cleanse is a fun one to try and could, over time, lead to clearer and brighter skin if it ultimately lives up to all those pore-cleansing, circulating claims. And like both dermatologists said, it doesn’t hurt to try. If you do decide to integrate it into your regimen, Weitzbuch says it should be supplemental to your cleansing and moisturizing regimen. Also, you may want to invest in a water carbonating machine to save yourself some cash.

Related: Surprising Ways to Cook With Seltzer Water