Facepalme D’Or: “Structured Water”

Happy Friday, Shakers! It’s time for me to make a cup of tea, look back over my week, sift through all of the gobsmackingly, facepalmingly stupid things I have encountered, and award my Facepalme D’Or—the award for the flat-out dumbest thing a person or media presentation has tried to foist off on me this week.

So, in honor of President Obama's pledge to restore science to its rightful place, I award the Facepalme D’Or to Elysée Cosmetics for its “structured water complex”. I encountered this risible concept during a brief, lamentable exposure to the Home Shopping Network (HSN). I cannot find the relevant snippet of this HSN skin-care ad on YouTube, but Elysée's website repeats the same gobbledygook:
Structured Water Complex: Different waters resonate at different energy frequencies. Some of these frequencies are better at penetrating through the cellular wall tissue than others. Hexagonal structured water is proving to be the best. Similarly, cell wall tissue resonates at varying energy frequencies, this relating to age, location and condition of the cell tissue. Some of these frequencies absorb water easier than others. When water, with energy frequencies best suited for absorbing into the cell, is coupled with energy frequencies most successful in penetrating the cell wall, the result is more rapid hydration of the cells, than with regular pH balanced water. Structured Water technology utilized in our entire line of products combines energy signals with anti-aging ingredients to achieve the best available results. The task is to allow water to penetrate the cell wall easier (with less resistance) producing faster hydration of the cell tissue.
Codswallop. Notice the classic pseudoscientific gambit of vaguely referring to real scientific concepts, taking them out of context, and giving them groundless applications. In this case, Elysée invokes the concepts of nuclear magnetic resonance and cell signaling/signal transduction, and abuses them to hornswoggle the scientifically illiterate among us into buying $60-an-ounce water.

Like the Nobel Prize, the Facepalme D’Or can be shared. I therefore include all makers of contraptions for "changing the structure” of drinking water (I'm looking at you but will not link to you, Water Vitalizer Plus); high-dollar "clustered" bottled water (for shame, Zunami!), and Max Huber Research Labs, who continues to use its “deconstructed water” in Crème De La Mer products, even after the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority found there was no scientific evidence to support the company’s claims back in 2002.

No, medicine shows and their snakeoil are nothing new. But these particular hucksters are hiding behind science, and science has a lot of recovering to do after Bush's fondness for censoring scientists and eliminating scientific oversight, so I'm in a zero-tolerance kind of mood.

There's more about “structured” water and pseudoscience by chemist Stephen Lower, who has written a handy website debunking this whackaloonery.

And, check out ScienceBlogs’ Rightful Place blog.

Feel free to leave your own personal Facepalme D'Or nominees in comments.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus