TikTok has really become the place for trends. From butting-lifting leggings to makeup looks to fashion trends to viral products, the platform has so many trends that are intriguing and look so cool that you immediately want to try after watching a bunch of videos in a row about them. One TikTok trend that we saw popping up all over the place a few months ago was chlorophyll water. Suddenly, our "For You" pages were inundated with the drops that turn water into a mysterious deep green hue.
Apparently, everyone on TikTok was saying that if you add chlorophyll drops to water and drink it daily, you'll be blessed with glowing and clearer skin, more energy, less bloat, and less body odor (yep, you read that right). It all sounded equal parts "Amazing, I need this immediately," and "Hmm this sounds too good to be true." So, a couple of us at THE/THIRTY decided to be guinea pigs and try it out for two weeks to see if the drops were really that magical. And of course, because we wanted to be super thorough with our research, we asked some experts for their thoughts, too. Here's what we learned below.
What Is Chlorophyll?
Before we got too ahead of ourselves with the experiment, we decided to start with the basics. What exactly was this substance that was all over TikTok? "Chlorophyll literally means 'green in the leaf,' explains Nisha Chellam, MD, a physician at Parsley Health. "It is the green pigment found in plant leaves. Specifically, Chlorophyll comes from the chloroplasts of plants—the organelles that conduct photosynthesis. The reason it is green is that these pigments do not absorb the green spectrum of the light (electromagnetic spectrum) and so what you see is a reflection of the green in the light." While store-bought chlorophyll drops are the easiest way to try the trend out, Chellam says you can make your own by juicing parsley or arugula.
Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN, chef, nutritionist, Reiki master, and founder of the Culinary Alchemy program, says that the liquid supplement that we've been seeing on TikTok is actually chlorophyllin, which is a mixture of chlorophyll and sodium and copper salts that are more easily absorbed by the body.
As for its popularity, the experts we spoke to weren't too surprised by its rise, and they were all pretty happy that people were exploring the benefits of plants more. "Chlorophyll is by no means new, being discovered in the early 1800s, and superfood ingredients like this always circle back around!" says Whitney Tingle, co-founder and co-CEO of Sakara Life. "We are always thrilled to see more people becoming aware of the benefits and power of plants to use as a tool on their wellness journey."
But it's important to note that although the chlorophyll's health benefits seem promising, Poon says no food or supplement is going to be a silver bullet. "Optimal health and the healing of many conditions often require changes on many levels (diet, exercise, mental health, decreased stress, etc.)," she explains. "Even though you might see TikTok influencers clearing up their skin conditions with chlorophyll water, conditions like acne are complex and it might take more than adding one supplement to your regimen to heal your skin. That being said, eating more green vegetables and antioxidant-rich foods are a great first step towards realizing optimal health and healing."
The Health Benefits of Chlorophyll
1. It Detoxifies
Chellam explains that detoxification is a natural process—when the liver helps the body detox, it metabolizes, breaks down, and recycles hormones, food, or other substances we consume. She says that there are two phases to the process. In the first phase, many of the pre-cancerous substances in the body are broken down.
But sometimes, the detoxification process can actually create by-products that are cancer forming themselves. "For example, when estrogens get broken down there is a middle step when the same estrogen by-product can cause breast cancer," Chellam explains. "In the lab, some in vitro studies of cancer cell lines have shown that chlorophyll can potentially prevent this from happening. In phase two of detoxification, substances are made water-soluble so they can go into the blood (if the substance is a nutrient) or out the body via urine (if it is a toxin), chlorophyll can help promote this process and make it more efficient."
2. It Has Antioxidant Properties
"One of the best benefits of chlorophyllin is that it has significant antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are important plant compounds that help protect your body from damaging free radicals and disease," Poon says. "Research shows that chlorophyllin has been shown to have potential in supporting liver health and wound healing, protecting against cancer, as an internal deodorant, and as a topical treatment for acne and photoaging."
3. It Helps With Oxygenation
4. It Repairs
Chlorophyll's repairing properties are one of the reasons why it's so popular in the wellness community—and now TikTok, Chellam says. "Chlorophyll helps the process of repairing cell damage. When cells multiply small mistakes can occur, like DNA errors," she explains. "And you don't want these aging cells or cancerous cells to flourish by making even more copies of themselves. Chlorophyll pauses the cell multiplication. How does this help? Slowing the cell replication process gives the immune system time to repair any DNA errors or mistakes. In short: defective cells are stopped from wildly multiplying. This can translate into slowing the signs of aging and supporting skin health."
She also adds that chlorophyll from algae has also been shown to prevent cancer in in vitro lab tests—which is more motivation to add more leafy green vegetables and even some algae into your diet.
5. It Helps With Gut Health
6. It's Anti-Inflammatory
"Chlorophyll has been shown to reduce inflammation in wounds and promote wound healing," Chellam says. "People also claim it gives a glow to the skin. This can be due to its impact on DNA repair and allowing the body to 'clean up' by slowing the process of repair and can aid in reducing cystic acne."
How to Consume Chlorophyll
Photo:Jamie Grill Atlas/Stocksy
Through TikTok, you're probably most familiar with the chlorophyll that comes in the form of a liquid extract that you add to water. Chellam says the recommended dose is normally a dropperful, which contains 100mg, and it's okay to consume up to two to three full droppers at maximum daily. She suggests starting with the minimum dose recommended first and then working your way up based on the results you're seeing.
Most people over the age of 13 can consume chlorophyll, Chellam says. But there are caveats, like with any supplement. "The real caution is if you are taking medications. Medications get activated or broken down in the detox pathways of the liver," she explains. "And the same aspect that makes chlorophyll beneficial in the detox process (being a cytochrome P450 inhibitor) can impact your body's ability to metabolize medications, increasing side effects or even causing the body to hold higher levels of the medication without changes to the dosage." That's why it's important to check with your doctor first before starting any supplement or medication, even if you're not on a certain medication. It doesn't hurt to be extra careful!
Poon advises pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid the chlorophyll water trend as she says there is no research about the effects of chlorophyll or chlorophyllin in this group.
When consuming the drops, you might experience some side effects. "Chlorophyll (especially the kind made from algae which has 40% more fiber than in vegetables) has more fiber and resists digestion. It may even cause a bloating sensation if someone does not have the proper gut bacteria to digest this fiber," Chellam says. You might also notice diarrhea or coloring of the stool or urine.
And you don't want to apply it to the skin directly as it can cause a burning sensation. Again, check with your doctor first and start with the lowest dose first to see how your body reacts to it.
As for finding the right drops for you, Chellam says sourcing and doing your research is important. "Chlorophyll extract created through a heated process can become inflammatory and cause increased damage to the cells," she explains. "Chlorophyll by nature is not water-soluble and is often extracted using chemicals, on top of that, heat is said to destroy its 'superpowers' and make it toxic. It's important to do your research and consult your doctor before integrating any new supplements into your diet to assure it's safe and coming from a trusted source."
Our Honest Reviews
When testing the trend, we consumed the Sakara Life's Detox Water Drops every day for 14 days. The drops contain 100mg of chlorophyllin per serving, and one serving size is about three dropperfuls. The recommended daily dosage is three times a day, but each of us varied our usage. We documented any changes and observations—see what we thought below.
Erin Jahns, Senior Beauty Editor
I'm going to be 100% real with y'all. These drops do not taste great—it's like drinking dirt with a pinch of essence de grass—but after I got used to my nightly ritual (a quick 8 ounces down the hatchet at bedtime) I got used to it and found the whole thing easier to stomach. Especially once I started noticing a few nice benefits. First things first, I always notice my skin looks clearer when I'm drinking more water, so just the added extra cup I'm sure was helpful on that front. I'm not sure if it's the drops or not, but I haven't gotten a single zit since I started the experiment. The whites of my eyes are brighter and less red, I'm more regular (sorry, TMI!), and I've also felt less bloated in the morning and throughout the day, in general. Now, none of these side effects were SUPER noticeable or miraculous, but I definitely have detected some subtle changes in my system. It's definitely not doing any harm and while I believe doing your best to live a clean and healthy lifestyle overall is the best thing you can do for your skin, I'm excited to keep following the chlorophyll wave.
Sarah Yang, Managing Editor
When I saw the trend on TikTok, I was pretty skeptical at first. I think it's my job as a wellness editor to be highly skeptical of everything that touts tons of benefits. But my colleagues were talking about the trend so much and wanting to try it, so I gave into peer pressure and decided to give it a try, too. I heard that the taste wasn't great—pond water was the main description I was seeing—but I wasn't too worried about it beforehand. My sense of smell and taste isn't that great after an accident a few years ago, so I thought I could handle pretty much any "funky" tasting food or drink.
Well, I was kind of wrong there. When I first added the drops to a glass of water I was so mesmerized by how they mixed into the water. It's a very soothing-to-the-eyes experience and that alone is pretty cool! But, when it came time to drink it… well, let's say it's never going to be my refreshing drink of choice. It tasted very "green" and yes, I could see why people were comparing it to pond water or scum. While the taste wasn't great, I powered through for the 14 days because I was committed to the experiment. And at the end of the two weeks, I was kind of used to the taste. I was not as consistent with my drops usage—I did one serving a day for sure, but some days I would do just one and other days I would do the full three servings.
As for the results, it felt good to be mindfully drinking more water each day. By having to drink about 16 ounces for each serving, it was an automatic hydration moment. My main skin gripe isn't acne, but dryness, and I felt that the drops and drinking more water during the day helped in that department. And I don't really have any digestive problems (in fact, I'm very regular—TMI, sorry!), but I did feel less bloated throughout the day which was a nice bonus.
I think I'll have to take the drops more to see how it affects my energy and if there are any body odor benefits, but overall, I thought the drops were a good way to get more water and added nutrients into your system. Because it's a natural product, it doesn't hurt to try if you don't foresee any health issues—of course, it's always smart to double-check with your doctor before adding a new supplement or medication to your routine.
Schuyler Youngstrom, Manager, Email & Partnerships
As with any easily influenced millennial on TikTok, I was so excited to try out the buzzy chlorophyll trend. I immediately ripped open the Sakara Detox Water and expected a beautifully green, tasteless substance that would solve all my skincare and health problems. Not *quite*. If you've ever swam in a river or fresh-water pond and accidentally opened your mouth underwater, that's exactly what this tastes like. An earthy, dare I say fishy?!, taste that I can only describe as pond water. No biggie though, when properly chilled, it goes down easily, and with the tip from my co-worker to use a straw, you eventually don't even notice it.
I was mostly intrigued by the chlorophyll trend for the claims that your body odor completely vanishes. I'm not sure two weeks was a long enough time to test this theory out, but even after transitioning over to natural deodorant, I absolutely can say my body odor isn't as intense, without using any deodorizing product at all (I don't leave the house often, okay!) I also noticed within a week of drinking the beverage three times a day, my skin was more supple and less dry, my belly bloat had gone down significantly and I felt more hydrated throughout the day. I was already drinking a gallon of water a day before this, so adding the additional chlorophyll nutrients to that routine definitely improved the hydration. I'll absolutely continue to take the drops for a daily boost of nutrients to my diet.
One note: If you get any of the dropper's liquid on your skin (as I did) be prepared to look like Elphaba for the rest of the day. It definitely stains your skin and clothes, so perhaps a word of caution if you're mixing your drink on the go!