In Just 26 Seconds.....
There’s a popular message circulating around the internet stating - as if gospel,
“What you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body within 26 seconds.”
I used to believe this and actually posted the same statement on social media. But really, it isn’t true.
Stop for a minute and think about it. Our skin is an organ - the body’s largest. It’s primary functions are to regulate body temperature, protect us from bacteria, viruses, foreign matter and UV rays, prevent excess water loss, prevent injury to the underlying tissue, and provide our sense of touch and ability to feel pain and pleasure. And it does a damn good job.
The construct of the skin is quite fascinating actually and consists of 3 main layers :
Made up of flattened dead cells, the top of which is called the stratum corneum, surrounded by waxy lipids (oils) and keratin (protein) which create an oil loving and water hating environment.
The location of nerve endings, oil and sweat gland, and hair follicles. Living cells located in the dermis eventually die and migrate outward to the outer layer of the epidermis and are shed from the body.
Where we store fat to insulate our body temperature.
The epidermis is an effective shield. Truth is most substances just don’t get past the epidermis. Some do but most don’t. Which means that what we apply to our skin i.e., cosmetic, creams, gels, etc. largely remain at the level of the epidermis – far away from being absorbed into our bodies.
And that makes sense. Generally we want our soaps and cosmetics to enhance the look and feel of our skin where we see and feel it - at the outer layer. We wash dirt and oil off the surface. We scrub away excess dead skin build-up at the surface. We apply lubricants and oils to hold in moisture on the surface layer.
The Dilemma. It’s hard to say what kind of and when chemical molecules get through the epidermis to the dermis and get absorbed into our blood stream. Sometimes our skin is compromised by injury or disease. Sometimes the “right” combination of chemicals are able to penetrate (the patch). What then?
It’s complicated, yet.... I believe that it is reasonable to avoid questionable ingredients when it comes to skin care, (food and medicine too). Reasonable to strive to make sensible choices – to consider the validity of what one hears and reads. Reasonable to not panic, to avoid scare mongering and appreciate the complexities of chemistry and science and the wonders of the human body.
Personally, I believe that there is so much more to discover and learn.