I want to discuss a clean beauty myth that I see spread around very often that not only discredits the clean beauty movement but also scares and confuses many people. While I believe those sharing the information are well intended, the simple act of regurgitating unfactual claims does more harm than good.
I believe it is essential for people to understand the facts instead of falling victim to fear-mongering and false information. We cannot make informed decisions regarding our wellness when we live in fear and confusion.
As someone who has studied holistic health, beauty, and skin science for thirteen years, I am passionate about providing factual information that can help others.
What we put on our skin, the body's largest organ, is essential for optimum health.
I want to preface this by saying that I am a huge advocate for non toxic beauty and lifestyle education. Teaching people how to switch to healthier products is a significant part of my mission. Knowledge is power, and when we are informed, we have a greater capacity to take make lifestyle changes that can support our wellness.
Clean Beauty Myth:
"60% of what you put on your skin gets absorbed in twenty-six seconds."
Fact: There is a difference between penetration and absorption
There is a significant difference between penetration and absorption. The ability of an ingredient to be absorbed into the bloodstream is very different than an ingredient penetrating the skin. The truth is that many ingredients cannot absorb into the bloodstream but can penetrate the skin.
The ability of an ingredient (molecule) to absorb and enter the bloodstream. When an ingredient is absorbed, it reaches the dermis, the bottom layer of the skin.
Just because an ingredient is absorbed into the bloodstream does not mean it will make biological changes. The accumulation of toxins known as "toxic load" is when health issues can arise.
The ability of an ingredient (molecule) to penetrate the bottom layer of the epidermis. The epidermis is the top layer of skin where beauty products are applied.
It is important to note that some products contain penetration enhancers, which can make it easier for ingredients to penetrate and absorb into the skin.
Food for thought.
If the skin absorbed everything it came in contact with, we would be able to pour alcohol on our skin, and we would be drunk. Just saying!
Fact: Timing Matters
Where did the "26 seconds for ingredients to absorb into the bloodstream" come from? Honestly, who knows? It probably was from a well-meaning person; (I'm guilty of saying it myself in the past); however, this false claim fuels science enthusiasts to discredit the clean beauty movement.
There is no proven method (at this time) that can estimate how quickly the ingredients in a beauty product can penetrate the skin or be absorbed. Every product has different ingredients, and their ability to penetrate or absorb will vary. Some beauty products have ingredients that will not absorb, just like some have ingredients with penetration enhancers. Many variables can affect the ability of a product to absorb or penetrate.
Factors that affect an ingredients ability to penetrate the skin
The health of the skin
The concentration of ingredients
A person's health
The area the product is applied
Fact: The skin has a filtration system
Many believe that the skin does not have a filtration system, a fallacy that creates confusion.
The skin has what is known as Langerhans cells which act as a filtration system for the body. The Langerhans cells act as immune surveillance, scanning for foreign matter to be discarded. Langerhan cells are found in the epidermis, the top layer of skin that beauty products are applied.
To get a picture of what Langherhan cells look like, imagine an octopus with tentacles that pick up foreign substances, carry them deeper into the skin, and deliver them to the lymph nodes to be eliminated. The Langerhans cells are constantly at work. Each time you apply products to your skin, the Langerhans cells kick into high gear and scan the ingredients to decide whether they are safe or not.
Does this mean we shouldn't worry about the ingredients in our beauty products?
We absolutely should be mindful of the ingredients in the products we use daily. Many beauty products on the market contain unhealthy ingredients that can accumulate in the body and contribute to health issues.
Clean Beauty Ingredients VS. Toxins
Whether you use clean beauty or products that contain harmful chemicals, the Langerhan cells still have to work hard to protect the body. Their main job is to scan for foreign matter, and if you use too many ingredients (even if they are clean or non toxic) it will bombard the filtration process.
The issue with using beauty products that contain a long list of ingredients is that it makes the body work harder. Products with too many ingredients (clean or not!) can kick your immune system into overdrive.
For this reason, I suggest learning to minimize the number of ingredients in your daily beauty products. Less is more.
Think about it like this. If your body is hyper-focused on scanning a long list of ingredients in your beauty products, it won't have as much time to repair and rejuvenate. By minimizing your ingredient load, your body can focus more on supporting your health and graceful aging.
Doing your own research is always essential. It is how we become empowered. I encourage you to take what I have discussed and let it inspire you to research. When we do our own research, we are better equipped with a set of tools and can draw our own conclusions. Knowledge is power.
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