Does the Ion Shotnizer really help ingredients penetrate skin?

Karen is curious… I live in Asia currently and this one of the most popular products on the beauty aisle now.It is made by Japan Gals Co. Ltd, and its acts like a facial massager (it’s called the “ion shotnizer“). It has two switches and the red light releases a positive ionic wave and enables “deep cleansing of negatively charged dirt particles which are impossible to remove by normal facial washing”. While the green light releases a negative ionic wave which “brings skincare products into deep layers of skin”. It does not vibrate or use light. Does this sound like hocus pocus to you?

The Beauty Brains respond:

Hocus pocus? Naw.
Psuedoscience? Yep!

What is iontophoresis?

The idea that electric charge can help ingredients penetrate skin is not new. Around the turn of the 20th century the French physician Stéphane Leduc proved that electricity could be used to move compounds through the skin. In an experiment that would be considered appalling by today’s standards he connected two rabbits to the same electrical circuit. The first rabbit was connected to the positive pole which was covered in a pad soaked in strychnine sulphate; the second rabbit was connected to the negative pole which was saturated with potassium cyanide. When the switch was flipped the positive electrode repelled the positively charged strychnine ions into the first rabbit causing it to go into convulsions. Likewise the negative electrode repelled the negatively charged cyanide ions into the second rabbit which poisoned it. When the current was reversed, neither rabbit was harmed because the electrodes attracted the strychnine and cyanide rather than repelling them.  This experiment shows that if an organism is connected to a complete electrical circuit, the electrodes can “push” ions with the same charge through the skin.

Does this mean the ion shotnizer really works?

No, it doesn’t. First of all, the shotnizer does not form a compete electrical circuit (it can only act as the positive or negative side.) Second, it’s unlikely that the two AA batteries that power the unit will produce sufficient energy. Third, even if there was a complete circuit and enough power, only certain types of ions (those with the right size, solubility, and charge) will penetrate skin.

But what about their claim that it will get rid of “negatively charged dirt particles which are impossible to remove by normal facial washing?” This claim makes no sense because that’s not how the charge interaction between skin and dirt works. When skin is damaged it has more of a negative charge which means that positive charged particles are more likely to stick to it. They basically have it backwards. Besides, who’s to say that any kind of ionic treatment would remove dirt particles better than a mild detergent?

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Unless the good folks at “Japan Gals Co. Ltd” can produce evidence that this gadget does what they say, I have to say that the ion shotnizer is hocus poo-poo.

Reference: Iontophoresis and Desincrustation