𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧? First, we need to understand what absorption is. Absorption is when a chemical (which remember, everything is a chemical so have no fear) makes its way 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙤 the bloodstream. So the claim made above is implying that 60% of what is applied to our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream.
Let’s break this down.
𝐅𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐧. Our skin’s primary function is to create a barrier to the outside world. It’s designed to ensure most things can’t penetrate through and does a superb job of stopping/getting rid of unwanted substances. Your skin barrier, or 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘮 𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘶𝘮, has its own armor in place to defend against bacteria and products.
𝐘𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐧. Our skin is made up of 3 basic layers: epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. Most skincare is designed to function on the topmost layer of our skin, our epidermis.
𝐂𝐨𝐬𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐲. This is where chemistry is crucial when formulating skincare products. Products require an effective delivery system to get into the deeper levels of our skin. Some chemicals, like glycerin and propanediol (which are humectants and are AWESOME), are great delivery agents that 𝒑𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆 deeper into the skin. Without an effective delivery system, products will only sit on the top layer of your skin.
𝐏𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 ≠ 𝐚𝐛𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. Another key factor to consider is 𝒑𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏, which is VERY different from absorption. Penetration is when a chemical makes its way into the different layers of your skin, BUT not into your bloodstream. Bear in mind the size of chemical molecules, its solubility, formulation, and how much is applied are other factors when talking about product penetration. Our body and skin metabolize chemicals all time: processing and expelling it from our system. Your body is very effective and capable of excreting substances that happen to get absorbed. Cosmetic products are created to penetrate your skin and not absorb into your bloodstream (and if it did, the FDA now classifies that as a drug, not a cosmetic ).
𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐠𝐞. Simply because SOME chemicals are capable of entering your bloodstream via your skin, does not mean ALL or even 60% of chemicals can, and there is NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to support this 60% claim. Think about it: when you soak in a bath, you don’t come out swelled up like a sponge.
If you hear this myth being reiterated, you now know the facts, so go ahead and slather on your favorite cream, serum, or lotion without fear.