Debunking Skincare Myths - Does our skin absorb 60% of skincare?

Debunking Skincare Myths - Does our skin absorb 60% of skincare?
Science is not my strength. Unfortunately, that does mean I must remember to not take everything on board as the gospel truth. In the past, I have been guilty of sharing articles claiming that 60% of the cosmetics we put on our skin ends up in the bloodstream. The concern is synthetic and toxic ingredients are entering our bodies and causing ill health. Only the other day, I saw a natural company using this same statement to market their skincare. They are by no means the only ones using this statistic. At the start of my green journey, I naively trusted that the people sharing this fact had done their homework but the more I learn, the wiser I become to those spreading "half truths". 

I highly recommend everyone reads the following excellent articles. Both explain why the statement about our bodies absorbing 60% is somewhat flawed. 

These articles explain that our skin is made up of layers (epidermis, dermis and hypodermis) so there is a distance which an ingredient must go before reaching the bloodstream. Not every ingredient will be absorbed. It is dependent on the chemical and the size of the molecules as to whether it will pass through. If you consider treatments such as nicotine and hormone patches, they are intended to be absorbed through the skin. If an ingredient does make it into the body, some will naturally pass through our system as we are designed to reject what is not needed. What we must remember is when it comes to skincare we are looking to treat the top layer of skin so cosmetics are not deliberately manufactured to penetrate all the way to our bloodstream. 

Whilst I am looking at this topic, I wanted to once again highlight the issue of gluten and food allergens in skincare. It is widely debated whether there is a need for gluten free cosmetics and skincare. I certainly understand the demand for them as my sister is coeliac. Of course, I have my own allergies and do not use any skincare that contains milk. I understand the concern for allergens in lipstick but should I really be concerned about them in body lotion? I have read that gluten molecules are too large to penetrate through to the bloodstream and a reaction to a product containing gluten is more likely to be down to other ingredients in the formula. There was a case in Australia of a woman who used goat milk soap and went on to suffer a severe allergic reaction when she ate goat cheese. The reaction did not happen overnight, she started using the soaps to treat eczema in 2009 and reacted in 2011. It is also worth remembering that eczema can cause broken skin and the skin layers are not as robust as they are meant to be. I am guessing eczema would leave you vulnerable to ingredients penetrating into the bloodstream. It was an unusual case but it certainly gets you thinking.

Some of us feel our daily lives are filled with undesirable synthetic ingredients and that is why I advocate natural and organic skincare. I am not entirely dismissing the idea that some ingredients appear to be making it into our bodies but I am saying that some scary facts floating around on the internet are not always accurate. It is unlikely we are are absorbing 60% of what we put on our skin.

Sarah x