Do I Need Fancy Water?


The current time is 9:47 AM—I am paralyzed in front of the beverage cooler at my local C Town Supermarket trying to figure out which of the thousand bottles of water I'm staring at will hydrate me best. Here is alkaline water, there is Smartwater, plus a row of mineral-enriched water, right next to Diddy Water (Aqua Hydrate). It is easy to be cynical of any decanted H2O that costs more than a dollar 99, especially since it is free.99 to most homeowners and their dogs, but we are living in the Age of Wellness. You and I are but two decaying husks, looking for an elixir. Maybe hydrogen water will do the trick.

As much as I'd love to grab a Poland Spring and call it a day, my hand is beckoned by ergonomically-shaped bottles covered in health jargon. I've begun perusing bottled water with the scrutiny of a gemologist: All of them do different things, I think, but what are those things? Let's investigate together:

Do I need hydrogen water?

Excellent question. First of all, I think the return to water as the original healing substance—instead of injestible collagen, or restrictive cleanse diets, or mud, Shailene Woodley!—is genius. Since antiquity, hydrotherapy has been used to treat everything from alcoholism to immunity. Sebastian Kneipp, the bath oil king and one of the early champions of hydrotherapy, built a legacy on treating peasants, Popes, and Archduke Franz Ferdinand with his specific brand of accessible water-based healing. On the cosmetic side, it's the oldest trick in the book: "I drink 300 litres of water a day," says every woman we've ever interviewed. She catches the natural light, and the sun rises over her poreless skin like the calm Pacific. "That, and I exercise."

If water is the silver bullet to all of your skincare worries, Dr. Perricone's Hydrogen Water is a platinum harpoon. It's a hydrogen-richer version of regular water, it's very big in Japan, and it tastes like metal. Perricone water has yet to undergo clinical testing, but tons of studies back up claims of wrinkle prevention, increased antioxidant activity, and mice anti-obesity among a sea of other promising studies across all bodily functions.

I liken Dr. Perricone's Hydrogen Water to a kind of supplement—the good doctor himself drinks three cans a day, but I've taken to shotgunning one in the morning and again right before bed. Since most of the benefits are occuring on the molecular level, I cannot discern a marked change in how I'm feeling day to day. But I like the simplicity of super-charged water as an alternative to taking a handful of vitamins, so I'm going to stick with it for now. The full benefits, which you can browse here, are truly staggering. Yes, you need hydrogen water. Go get some right now!! I will wait.

Do I need alkaline water?

When I met alkaline water, I was 15 minutes into a very focused infrared sweat (and episode of House of Cards) at Los Angeles' Shape House. The kind, nurselike employees whose job is to facilitate and encourage perspiration served it to me bedside in large carafes with a straw. It tasted like garbage, but when you are losing thousands of liters of fluids every minute to a riveting political drama and the sweet embrace of a heated blanket, you drink it like it's Diet Coke.

Alkaline water has a pH of above 8, whereas tap water (and most of the water we consume) is pH neutral at around 7. Alkaline diets are recommended to balance out acidic diets, which can wreak havoc on your heart and esophagus and make you feel generally unwell. Essentia, a bodega staple sold alongside Fiji and Smartwater, has a pH of 9.5, making it very basic. You know what else is basic? Regular water. No offense to water, but it is maybe the most basic thing I can think of. The default pH, bottled or tapped or soda'ed, is fine, but if for some reason it is not, I will alert the news media immediately.

Do I need Voss?

I know in my heart that I don't, but that bottle! Add to cart. And while you're at it, please write the slogan for Voss' new fruit sparkling waters ("No to calories, yes to flavor") on my gravestone.

Do I need mineral water?

Yet another fabulous question. The FDA defines the label "mineral water" as containing over 250 ppm (parts per million) of mineral content. This normally presents itself as calcium or magnesium, and both are great for you—calcium fortifies bones and magnesium is known to be a heart-healthy. Water with a high contentration of these minerals is known as "hard water," a spooky term for a good dietary supplement. Apparently it corrodes kettles, or something, but I don't think that's an issue here.

The most popular brand of mineral water is historic San Pellegrino, a brand of fancy water I completely endorse. Not only does it strengthen your body from the inside, but stocking San Pellegrino in your home is a very sly way to let guests know you are both classy and loaded. If you enjoy the primal sensation that comes with drinking water exclusively "from the source" but do not possess the funds required to commit to this lifestyle, I would love to suggest Crystal Geyser, with the caveat that it is spring water and not mineral water. The difference is thrilling—you can read about it here.

Do I need electrolyte-rich water?

You do if you're an athlete: Bottled water with added electrolytes is formulated to aid your body's absorption process, so it's arguably the most hydrating. In addition to being a monument for the digital wellness movement, this recipe for electrolyte water on Dr. Oz's website looks like it tastes gross. Smartwater tastes divine and comes in several hangover-friendly sizes. Please don't make your own water.

Do I need 24-karat gold water?

My hunch is no, but I'd love to try it. If you or a loved one is a publicist who represents Acqua di Cristallo, please reach out to me as soon as possible. I'm parched.

—Brennan Kilbane

Photographed by Tom Newton.

But is it healthy? Figure it out here.