Hi guys! Today I’m going to talk about one question which I was always curious about and that is the question on this blog post – just how deep do skincare products penetrate your skin? And how does that translate to the products which you choose to apply to your skin?
I’m sure that you would remember reading some articles stating that about 60% of whatever touches your skin is absorbed into your blood stream and therefore you should only use “all natural” and “organic” skincare or body care products. But is that really true or is it fear mongering like so many other articles out there? Logically speaking, I knew deep down that it’s quite literally impossible that 60% (where did that statistic even come from?!) of whatever touches your skin would be absorbed. If that’s really the case, what would be the use of eating? I could just tape a cucumber or a piece of meat to my skin and it would be absorbed right? Or I could just stick my finger in a glass of wine (I actually prefer vodka though..) and I would become drunk?
(Note that I’m NOT talking about those trans-dermal medicinal patches that are specially formulated to penetrate your skin and into your bloodstream. I’m referring to normal cosmetics products that you can buy over the counter.)
So, I turned to the website thebeautybrains.com in search of answers. The Beauty Brains website is run by 2 cosmetics scientists (Perry Romanowski and Randy Schueller) who have over 50 combined years of experience in formulating and testing beauty products. Their podcast (click here to listen) laid my fears to rest. In case you don’t have the time to listen through their whole podcast, I’ve summarised a few key things which are interesting and important to note.
1) Legitimate cosmetic products available over-the-counter do not penetrate deep enough to reach your bloodstream
Cosmetics, and especially skincare products, are designed to benefit only the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis and sometimes the dermis). It is already challenging enough to formulate products which can have ingredients penetrating the outer layer of the epidermis (which is called the stratum corneum), not to mention having the ingredients get past all 7 layers within the epidermis down to the dermis, past the subcutaneous layer and into your blood stream. The thing is, our skin is actually very very good at keeping stuff out of our bodies and it’s pretty difficult for ingredients in normal cosmetic products to get past it.
So what happens to most of the skincare or cosmetic products which we apply to our skin? Most of the stuff actually just remains in the outermost layer of the epidermis and gets sloughed away as part of the dead skin cells. In any case, even if some ingredients (a tiny percentage) actually successfully made it into our blood stream, our bodies do have a very efficient filtering mechanism in place to remove toxins. So unless you are buying your cosmetics or skincare products from dubious sources, there’s a really low chance that any contaminants could overwhelm the body’s natural filtering system and be hazardous to your health.
2) It is a myth that your body can absorb large amounts of chemicals through your skin
This is really the TL;DR of this whole post. Our body do not absorb large amounts of chemicals through our skin. Firstly, it’s not easy for ingredients to penetrate our skin right down to the blood stream. Secondly even if it makes it to our blood stream, most are not in significant amounts to pose any hazards to our bodies. It is way easier for any ingredient to enter your blood stream by ingesting it via your mouth than by applying it on your skin. If any product is actually able to change your skin metabolism rate, it would be considered a prescriptive drug (such as prescriptive retinoids) which only your doctor could prescribe it to you. Otherwise, if a product could be purchased over-the-counter and said product makes that claim, you could just consider it as marketing drivel.
I hope that this post helps to provide clarity to some of the confusing fear-mongering out there that makes unnecessary and exaggerated claims.
Thank you for reading!