Hypochlorous Acid for Skin: Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects

We spoke to a few skin experts to get the scoop on hypochlorous acid and how to use it. Here’s everything you need to know.

Meet the experts:

  • Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist and product developer based in New Jersey.
  • Jessica Houston is a double-licensed aesthetician at Beautybeez in Los Angeles.
  • Jaimie DeRosa, MD, is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in Boston and Palm Beach.

What is hypochlorous acid?

“Hypochlorous acid is a substance that our bodies naturally produce within our white blood cells, it works to kill bacteria and irritants that are harmful to us,” says DeRosa. In layman’s terms, it’s nature’s disinfectant — used to combat inflammation and speed up the body’s natural healing processes.

In the science world, hypochlorous acid is replicated by combining salt, water, vinegar, and electrolysis. The result is a formula that replicates your skin’s natural ability to fight bacteria and heal. When that formula is concentrated correctly and added to your favorite skin and hair care products, you can give your face and scalp a boost of healing energy anytime you need it. 

In higher concentrations, hypochlorous acid can be found in common cleaners, like Clorox. It’s used to disinfect surfaces, sanitize medical equipment, “and has even been documented to kill coronavirus,” says King. 

What are the benefits of using hypochlorous acid?

“Hypochlorous acid is a powerful killer of bacteria, viruses, and even fungus,” says DeRosa. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a great treatment for a variety of skin challenges, from cystic acne to sunburns.

“It fights bacteria that cause clogged pores and acne,” says Houston. “It also speeds up the healing process of cystic acne and repairs damage.” In other words, it not only prevents future breakouts but helps eliminate any signs of past breakouts too.

But it gets better. Hypochlorous acid combats redness and inflammation associated with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It calms puffy or angry skin and gently cleanses to prevent future flare ups. “It’s also really good to help reduce itching,” says DeRosa, so you won’t be tempted to scratch your skin and spread the infection.