For years, my friend Esther’s Korean mother has been using carbonated water to cleanse her face.
She’d collect leftover La Croix around the house and pour it into a bowl. Or, when she wasn’t feeling guilty, would buy a few boxes, investing in dozens of cans of beauty water. While others drank the fizzy flavors in Pamplemousse, Coconut, Peach-Pear, or Tangerine, she splashed it onto her pores, swearing that it brightened her complexion.
I was intrigued. Cleansing your face with not only water – but carbonated water – was seriously bougie business. And La Croix used not for drinking but for beautifying was an act that was Mariah Carey-level rich. And so I decided I’d try my own luck with this method, investing in a carbonated water machine.
Digging into this trend I realized there was real science behind it. Called the “sparkling water facial,” (I call it the “La Croix Special”) this method has been used for the past few years throughout Korea and Japan. According to one doctor who told Cosmopolitan, sparkling water not only helps cleanse your skin but apparently the carbonation is really great at removing dirt and oil. “For example, at room temperature, carbonated water becomes a vasodilator, meaning it triggers your blood vessels to open up, bringing the blood supply to your skin’s tissue,” a certain Dr. Engelman told the publication. In short, carbonation helps with circulation, which then allows the skin to have a healthier glow.
Another reason is that water has a pH level of 7, whereas carbonated water is more acidic, at 5.5. It’s the magical number that’s balanced with your skin’s own acidic level. AKA while your skin becomes hardened from water (a reason many people use toners to balance out your skin again), it stays at peace and happy with the slightly acidic carbonated water.
I decided to try this out for myself and when my SodaStream finally came in November as part of one of my only pre-holiday purchases, I went straight to work. The device, which is powered by a C02 canister, instantly pumps carbonation into any drinkable liquid, from water to apple juice, to Hawaiian Punch (yes, I tried, don’t ask why). With two 5-second pumps, your boring tap water becomes a bootleg Perrier and tastes kinda like it, too. Immediately, I went to work, pumping water from my SodaStream directly into a large salad bowl. I didn’t realize this but doing so was much more work than I’d realized.
Alas, I’d take the salad bowl and pour the sparkly water into my sink, pulling the grid drain upwards. And with that, I went straight to splashing. Using a pH-balancing cleanser from Missha, I pampered my skin until my face tickled with fizz. Note: sparkling water is SUPER painful when it goes into your nose – so heed with caution. After cleansing I noticed that there was a real difference to my complexion. It didn’t feel as dry as if I’d used tap water. The sensation was as if I’d gone to get a mini microdermabrasion, my skin feeling smooth.
I tried this for an entire week from morning to night realizing that it wasn’t sustainable to do it any longer. For one, it takes ~real determination~ to stick with this regimen. And two, the acidity isn’t always so great for your skin, especially for those with sensitive skin, like me.
All in all, yes, I did get a nice exfoliation action for an entire week. And my skin felt super clean, if not pampered. But was it worth all the trouble? I’m not sure. Though Esther’s mother would probably beg to differ. That woman and her flawless, wrinkleless face is winning. And sparkling. La Croix is doing wonders, and I can’t help but wonder if Pamplemousse really is that much better than the rest.