Does 60% of what you put on your skin end up in your bloodstream?

We’ve heard it a thousand times.... your skin is your largest organ. Be careful what you put on it. Your skin is your largest organ. Whatever you put on it goes into your bloodstream. Your skin is your largest organ and it absorbs everything. Your skin is your largest organ, why do you think medicine patches work so well? Your skin is your largest organ, 60% of toxic ingredients make their way into your bloodstream. Yes, I really did read that on a popular natural skin care brand’s website. Scary stuff, huh? If that's true, the gal in this picture is in really big trouble.

We really dislike fear mongering as we hope you know by now. We believe in facts, education, hard science and credible research over scare tactics on the Internet from non-credible bloggers. If they were really skin care experts they would not be spreading this disinformation. Skin chemistry is a vast science and you cannot learn it from the Internet, or a blog post. However, a few hard facts should help us all just calm down, take a deep breath, and not get pulled into the hype.

First thing to understand is the difference between penetration and absorption:

Skin Penetration is the amount of a topical substance that exists between the top layer (stratum corneum) and the bottom layer (stratum basale.)  With skin penetration, the body does not absorb the chemical, and it cannot affect the body systems. This is the layer where cosmetics help our skin.

Skin Absorption occurs when the topically applied substance actually breaks the skin barrier to reach the bloodstream.  Whether this chemical becomes a risk is determined by what occurs after the absorption.  You body will either filter out the chemical via sweat or urine, or sometimes, accumulate. This is how compounded medicines work on our bodies.

The size of the molecule is only one determinant of whether something penetrates or actually gets absorbed. Transdermal medicine patches are engineered to create a molecule small enough to be absorbed into the body. Cosmetics ingredients would be completely wasted on us if they were engineered to be absorbed. The beauty industry wants your cosmetics to work on your skin just between the top and bottom layer. The last thing they want is for anything to get past your skin and be absorbed into your body.  So all cosmetics, no matter if they are natural or lab made, will be large molecule substances that only stay on the skin’s top layer.

The fact is that cosmetics are not capable of penetrating through your skin, and cosmetics are not absorbed into our bodies.  If they were able to be absorbed they would be classified as a drug, not a cosmetic. Serums, creams and oils do not absorb, but sit at the surface where they are supposed to, even those big “chemical” brands that everyone is questioning. You may think this sounds weird coming from us, a beauty brand. While we love natural skin care, we understand the biochemistry and find it upsetting that people are getting scared into their purchases. We want you to buy our products because you love them, not because you are scared of something else.

As with everything else in the world, it is always the dose that makes the poison. It is smart to know what's in the products you use and to know what works for you and what irritates you. However the biggest fear you should have with your products are "Will it work?" rather than "Will it end up in my bloodstream?".

Now sunscreen and sunblock, which are not cosmetics but actual drugs... that's another story altogether.  But I'll have to save that for a future post.

xo, Jacci 

Jacci Delaneau

Adventuress, animal activist and recovering cheese addict. Dreamer and doer. A patent holding serial entrepreneur, our founder Jacci, has traveled the world in search of bizarre beauty rituals, the planet’s most beautiful beaches, and the perfect pizza. She combines her background in Marine Biology and Organic Cosmetic Science to develop clean, high performance skin care using sustainable ocean based ingredients. Read more about Jacci.