Can Beauty Care Products Penetrate Your Skin?

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So what’s the big deal with natural beauty products anyway? Can what you put on your skin really affect your health? The short answer is yes; beauty products can penetrate your skin. The process is called product penetration. That means the icky chemicals and preservatives in your beauty care products penetrate into your skin and can be carried into your bloodstream.

How Chemical Penetration Affects Your Skin
The  stratum corneum of our skin is semi-permeable 

The uppermost layer of our skin is called the stratum corneum. Although the stratum corneum acts as a protective barrier, it is semi-permeable and liquids or gases can pass through it. According to Milady’s Skin Care and Cosmetic Dictionary, “possibly as much as 60% of the chemicals in cosmetics and lotions are absorbed into the skin upon application” (Michalun). Dry skin is even more vulnerable, allowing chemicals in products to penetrate the skin’s layers easier.

Illness can also affect skin absorption rates, making them higher. Chemical penetration affects parts of your body differently. Our face and scalp have the highest skin absorption rates, absorption being “5-10 times higher than elsewhere” on our bodies (Michalun).

Although a majority of products applied to the skin do not penetrate the stratum corneum layer, the ones that do can have adverse effects.

Products that penetrate can:
  • Penetrate into the dermis skin layer and remain there
  • Store chemical compounds within the skin for hours after application
  • Penetrate into the dermis skin layer and be absorbed into the bloodstream

That being said, it does matter what you put onto your skin especially when it comes to your face and scalp.

How to Find Green, Natural Beauty Products
Think about all of the products that you apply to your face and scalp. You may come up with a list like the one below:

Beauty Products Applied to the Face
  • Lipstick
  • Lip balm 
  • Lip tint
  • Skin moisturizer 
  • Foundation
  • Face powder
  • Eye liner
  • Eye shadow
  • Blush
Beauty Products Applied to the Scalp
  • Scalp moisturizer
  • Balm
  • Butter
  • Gel or Jelly 
Check the beauty products that you use and examine the ingredients. Look for beauty products with all natural oils like sunflower, avocado, and sesame or butters like cocoa butter and shea butter.
Many natural cosmetics are filled with micas, a proven skin irritant, and titanium dioxide, a possible carcinogenic. Look for cosmetics without these synthetic fillers.

What ingredients are in your beauty care products?


Source: Michalun, Natalia, and M. Varinia Michalun. Milady's Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary. Australia: Milady Thomson Learning, 2001. Print.

Photo credits: Afromag and HowStuffWorks

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