There's a lot of conflicting information about how much our skin absorbs. Some sources say 60-70%, while others say none at all.
The skin as an elimination system
Our skin is an elimination system. It has more than four million sweat glands, and adult humans shed about 9 pounds of skin every year on average. The skin eliminates naturally-occurring chemicals, as well as toxic chemicals.
Penetration Vs. absorption
Penetration is when a chemical reaches the deeper layers of the skin, while absorption is when it makes it into the blood. However, some people use these terms interchangeably, which isn't correct.
Both factors are vital considerations when choosing skincare products, but our concern is the absorption rate. Most chemicals are too large to be absorbed into the bloodstream, even if they can reach the deepest levels of the skin. So is there hope?
The chemical factors
Well, every chemical has a different absorption rate. Also, some chemicals react while on the body and make other chemical compounds less or more absorbable.
For example, ethanol is a common ingredient in skincare products. It increases absorption rates of other ingredients present because it breaks down the skin's protective barriers and because it breaks chemicals into individual constituents small enough for the skin to absorb.
However, silicone additives, such as dimethicone, remain on the skin and don't allow anything to absorb.
SO, DOES MY SKIN ABSORB ENTIRE PRODUCTS?
Both the environment and our bodies break down the products into many small chemical components. If these components are small enough for the skin to absorb, they will show up in the body as fractions of the larger product, not the product as a whole.
VARIATIONS BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS
Remember that everyone's chemical makeup is different. This factor makes it challenging for scientists to do accurate studies on absorption rates and chemical reactions on the body.
When creating a formula for topical medication, organic chemists make some generalizations about human chemistry. That's why some people can use certain products with no issues, but others suffer from severe irritation.
Does our body absorb what we apply on our skin?
In conclusion, the answer is yes and no. Here's why. Our skin absorbs things that make it into our bloodstream, but the answer isn't as simple as "60 to 70 percent of everything we apply."
Some things absorb immediately into our bodies, especially if there are other chemicals there that increase their absorption rate. However, most products don't absorb directly into the blood through the skin, though they often penetrate the deeper layers of our skin.
RESEARCH ON SPECIFIC CHEMICALS
Since there's no clear answer on absorption rates in general, we suggest that you research absorption and penetration rates of the specific chemicals or additives that are of concern to you.
At Sole Toscana, we stick with natural, organic skincare products to ensure that we are nourishing our skin and bodies. We're also happy to know our skin doesn't blatantly absorb everything we apply on it.
The Sole Toscana Beauty Team