Magnesium Salt: Ingredient Focus

Posted on


Magnesium Salt INCI Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium salt is one of the main ingredients in Bones loves Bubbles' soon-to-be launched handmade skincare, but what's so special about it that it's included?

Magnesium's Role in the Human Body

As well as for other animals and plants, magnesium plays vitally important roles in the human body including in bone formation, enzyme reactions, DNA, protein formation, nerve and muscle functions, the immune system, regulating blood pressure and so on.  In short, it is a biochemically essential mineral for us and as such it's one of the most plentiful elements found in human cells.  The body is unable to produce magnesium so it's normally taken from food like spinach, kidney beans, bananas, linseed, cashew nuts, cocoa and more (there's a reason we need varied diets!).  A total of 25g is stored within the body and, of this, 60% is kept in the bones, with excess amounts being excreted.  Absorption of magnesium reduces with ageing and is negatively affected by drinking alcohol, smoking, and certain health conditions.  Low magnesium levels can cause muscle cramps, twitching, heart rhythm abnormalities and a range of other difficulties but it's highly unusual, although not impossible, to have too much.

Therapeutically, magnesium is considered to be helpful in pain management for people with neuropathic pain, period pains and migraine.  It can help to minimise migraine for some people but if you're ever considering supplementing with high doses of it for health reasons such as this do seek medical advice first.

Magnesium and the Skin

In terms of the skin specifically, magnesium helps to keep it moisturised and hydrated, in good repair, firmer and smoother.  When we are physically worn out, over-exercising, suffering from infection or chronic stress, something called 'oxidative stress' occurs.  During this, essential free radicals in our cells become out of control and overrun our antioxidant defence system, causing harm to our bodies.  On these occasions, magnesium protects our skin cells from the damage oxidative stress causes, including that from the sun's damaging UV rays (although it doesn't eliminate the need to wear suitable skin sun protection).  This is also why eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is always advisable, because they are packed with antioxidants so help keep free radicals in a healthy balance.  Another plus for magnesium is that it limits the release of stress hormones and this, in turn, reduces the opportunity for the inflammatory stress responses that cause acne, eczema, psoriasis and so on.

From a topical perspective, although the skin is generally considered impermeable to protect the body's inner organs, when applied to the skin magnesium can apparently penetrate through the outer layer via hair follicles and sweat glands under certain conditions.1 (Within the scientific community I understand there continues to be debate about this.)  The use of magnesium salts has been shown to increase the permeability of the dermis (the middle layer of the skin), improve moisture absorption, barrier repair and reduce inflammation when things go wrong, for instance in eczema and psoriasis.  A scientific trial showed that magnesium in combination with another substance was more effective than hydrocortisone cream in treating mild to moderate atopic dermatitis. 2

Many people will be aware of the qualities of the water of the Dead Sea which contains high quantities of magnesium salts as well as other minerals, and has a very long history of having been used for bathing to ease sore muscles and to alleviate inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, eczema and psoriasis.  There is scientific evidence in support of the efficacy of Dead Sea salts in this regard but magnesium salts are produced worldwide from a range of natural resources so reliance on the Dead Sea for magnesium salts isn't necessary.  Used in baths or combined with distilled water to make "oil," individuals can enjoy in the comfort of their own homes the benefits that magnesium salts give to muscles, joints and skin.

Magnesium  and Magnesium Production

Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element in the earth's crust where it's tied up with other minerals.  It readily bonds with other elements so it's hardly ever found as pure magnesium.  The type that's most readily available biologically is in rivers and the sea.  In its elemental form magnesium is a silvery, shiny grey metal but as magnesium chloride - a salt - it is white.

The Dead Sea is probably the most famous source of magnesium salt, and because of its unique mineral composition and high magnesium salt content, it continues to be a major tourist destination despite now being much diminished in scale.  Dead Sea salts are sold across the world, marketed by Jordan, Israel and, in far smaller amounts by Fair Trade retailer Zaytoun on behalf of the only Palestinian producer in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank. Sadly, as a result of the use of Dead Sea water for desalination, over extraction of minerals, and agricultural practices by Israel and Jordan, the levels of the Dead Sea have plummeted massively and are currently dropping at a rate of 1 metre a year.  Sinkholes have been appearing in the vicinity for some time affecting the lives of local people, and the Dead Sea's microscopic marine biology may be affected by decreasing water levels. 3  

Shore of Dead Sea at Jordan

Image (courtesy of @LoggaWiggler, Pixabay) shows magnesium salts on rocks on the shore of the Dead Sea at Jordan

Industrial production of magnesium is now led by China, although the USA were the main producers until very recently, and Israel, Brazil, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey are also manufacturers.  Other countries involved in production include Ukraine, Malaysia, South Korea, Iran, Australia and Canada, with Europe recently announcing a drive to increase its production to reduce its reliance on China. 

Whilst it's not always readily apparent to myself as a manufacturer where ingredients originate, I do my utmost to find out, with the intention of avoiding buying from countries that frequently commit extensive human rights abuses and flagrant environmental damage.  Having said that, in an increasingly dystopian world and country, I have to accept such things are relative.







Add a comment:

Leave a comment:
  • This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Add a comment