Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Do Your Skincare Products Get Absorbed Into Your Bloodstream? March 19, 2013

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
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There is a persistent beauty myth circulating that the products you place on your skin penetrate into your bloodstream (see this article I found online as a perfect example of the perpetuation of this myth).  Sometimes beauty myths like this are promoted by the natural and organic beauty industry in order to sell their products, but, frankly in my opinion, this is a scare tactic and it irks me greatly.  (And please don’t get me started on the EWG and their Skin Deep website.  I am not the only one who is annoyed by the EWG.  See this post from The Beauty Brains for their perspective and an excellent, in my opinion again, explanation on how the EWG uses a little data in order to reach scary conclusions and create hysteria among consumers).

So just what are the facts about skincare product absorption into our bloodstream? This post will rely heavily on information from The Beauty Brains website since they have addressed this issue numerous times in varying permutations.  In the post Natural Bias on the Beauty Brains they explain:

… it is not true that whatever you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. Skin is designed to keep things out of your body. It is an excellent barrier to almost all chemicals. This is why doctors still have to give you shots or you have to take pills for most medicines. Some drugs, like those delivered through nicotine patches really work, but overall very few chemicals can penetrate your skin and get into your system!

And again in the post How Can You Stop Chemicals From Penetrating the Skin?:

Raylene really needs to know…I don’t like the idea of chemicals in cosmetics getting into my body. Is there anyway to block this? 

The Beauty Brains respond:

Since most ingredients don’t penetrate skin this isn’t really an issue. That’s because most chemicals are too large to diffuse through the skin. (Read this post on how much chemical exposure do you really get from cosmetics.)  In fact, you need special dermal patches, formulated with penetration enhancers, to get things like nicotine and sea sickness drugs through your skin and into your blood.

In the post The Impermeable Facts of Skin Penetration and Absorption from the website Personal Care Nathan Rivas does a great job breaking down the intricacies of this issue.  It turns out that this site does not allow other bloggers to copy and paste information from their articles free of charge.  The article offers an excellent explanation on this issue, so much so that the part I wanted to share here would have cost me $212 to do so.  Instead I urge you to click the above link to the article and read it since I do not have $212 to spend in order to share the information here :).

But just how much chemical exposure do we get each year from our beauty products?  The Beauty Brains explains in the post How Much Chemical Exposure Do You Really Get From Cosmetics?:

A few months ago we examined the question of whether your cosmetics were poisoning you. In this article we de-bunked the claim that you absorbed 5 pounds of damaging chemicals a year. This is just nonsense and not supported by science.

However, we recently found some published research about how much chemical exposure the average person gets each day from common products. Remember, this is how much you’re EXPOSED which is different than how much your body absorbs. How do you compare to the average person?

Chemical exposure per day from cosmetics

1. Lipstick: 0.024 g
2. Spray perfume: 0.53 g
3. Liquid foundation: 0.67 g
4. Solid antiperspirant: 0.79
5. Face cream: 2.05 g
6. Hairspray: 3.57 g
7. Skin lotion: 8.70 g
8. Shampoo: 12.8 g
9. Body wash: 14.5 g

Cosmetic chemical absorption

So, if you use all of these products every single day for a year, you are exposed to over 35 pounds of chemicals. Of course, many of these products are mainly water so if you subtract out the water, your non-water chemical exposure is about 5 pounds in a year.

That would mean if it were true that you absorbed 5 pounds of chemicals from cosmetics each year, your body would be absorbing everything put on your body. We know this isn’t true since we see bubbles washed down the drain and we have to remove make-up every night

Bottom Line:  The next time someone or a company tells you that the chemicals in the skincare product you are using are being absorbed into your bloodstream you will now know that this is just a persistent beauty myth.  Our skin functions as a protective barrier that keeps out chemicals instead of letting them in.  Very few chemicals penetrate our skin let alone get absorbed into our bloodstream.

Further Related Reading:

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12 Responses to “Do Your Skincare Products Get Absorbed Into Your Bloodstream?”

  1. I completely disagree with this post. To be honest. How do you explain Castor Oil packs? using them on your stomach… the oil gets absorbed into your body and can help break up scar tissues among other many evasive problems, etc. How about Progesterone cream? You rub that on your wrists, thighs, etc and it gets absorbed in, or try rubbing Garlic on the bottom of your feet – you will TASTE the garlic not long after doing that. There is proof that at least 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. Many people don’t want to recognize this because they are scared to have to change over their products but it is absolutely true.

  2. VNikol Says:

    I too agree with Britanie, and urge those who don’t believe products are absorbed by the skin to always error on the side of caution. After being diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer, my mother in law was advised by her wonderful physician at The Cancer Treatment Center to immediately discontinue use of conventional deodorant & other commercial skincare products as other women have also been told by their doctors following diagnosis. In my experience, it seems this issue always draws a dividing line between conventionalists and purists with varying degrees of supportive evidence (studies, professional views and the like) but as someone who has personally benefited from DIY products, natural remedies & alternative supplementation where conventional products & prescriptions either worsened conditions or failed to resolve, I am all for a more holistic, natural & safer alternative. In this day & age, chemical safety changes too often with new warnings, recalls & bans occurring too consistently to chance it. Ingredients lists read like an encyclopedia of hazards to the educated eye which is why companies rely on emotion-stirring marketing to sway consumers away from what really goes into their product lines.

  3. Eli Says:

    I’m studying Medicine and hope to combine it with Nutrition and Beauty. I always research the ingredients on the labels of my products and many ingredients are made of molecules too large to be absorbed by the skin and many are absorble. If they are absorbable-most likely are meant to be absorbed. These purists are just taking it too far because there’s money that can be made from people who are worried and don’t have their facts straight. They know that most people won’t research every single ingredient so they are taking advantage. It’s good to tell people the truth and the whole truth-and the truth is if everything was absorbed by our bloodstream we would be dead by now. This makes me mad because I love my natural alternative beauty products and I encourage people to use them but I don’t tell people that they are absorbing the ingredients. Its just like how some Black people with Afros tell people that relaxing (perming as Americans call it) is absolutely dangerous but there are safe hair perming kits now and many Africans with permed hair are having healthier stronger hair. People who are following this whole Natural movement should be real and not exaggerate or keep information one sided. Just because you are a fan, an advocate or promoter of something doesn’t mean you should mislead people. God did a wonderful job of giving skin that keeps a lot of substances out and allows some substances in. Just know your facts. If you want a truly natural or organic regimen wash your hair thoroughly with warm water and use rosemary, mint or cayenne pepper and sulphur with extra virgin olive oil to keep dandruff at bay and to stimulate hair growth. Use natural shea butter to moisturise skin. Wash with black soap. I love my black soap. Exfoliate skin with sea salt. Use lemon as deodorant. Don’t eat processed sugar, rather use sugar cane juice. And the list goes on.

  4. kumar Says:

    What about Hair color’s like loreal?

  5. kristen Says:

    If topical products do not get absorbed into your body/blood stream then please explain to me how the Birth Control Patch works? Or the Nicotine Patch?

  6. lis Says:

    a lot of makeup does get into your body. i have learned the cause of my pain in my body and head and nerve issues begin after putting on certain makeup. after three days in a row of wearing the makeup it got really bad, my heart responding, i couldve died. this article is wrong, and i am not the first person to have learned this through personal experience. some women have died frim heart attacks from makeup or spray tans.

  7. […] However, there are some substances that CAN penetrate into your bloodstream. That’s why we have birth control and nicotine patches capable to working from skin contact (Note: They are formulated especially with ingredients capable of penetrating). (More from an esthetician-😉 […]

  8. As a maker of patented BIOLOGICAL GREEN(TM) products, a term with a legal definition, there’s quite a bit of quantitative data (data of the best kind) that measures the chemicals in personal care products and cosmetics in blood samples. The conclusions that many chemicals on skin penetrate porous skin and enter the blood stream are unassailable (impossible to disprove). What’s the purpose behind nicotine patches, if not for the chemicals to enter the blood stream? also has published results of tests of cosmetics on teenage girls proving many chemicals they applied on their skin in the test were later measured in their blood and urine.

  9. […] Do Your Skincare Products Get Absorbed Into Your Bloodstream? The Impermeable Facts of Skin Penetration and Absorption […]

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