What You Should Know When Choosing Skincare Products

In today’s world, we are so bombarded with information that it is hard to determine what is real and what is used as a fear tactic to get you to buy a particular product. We are going to put your mind at ease with a little science. We want our customers to be informed so they can make the best choice for their skin. And of course, we always suggest Alō Goods!

What is the biggest factor when choosing skincare products?

First and foremost, ingredients are the biggest factor when choosing a Skincare Product. There is a reason the FDA has a list of banned ingredients that cannot be used in skincare products. The list of these products can be found on their website. But you should know that while companies must ensure their products are safe, they are not required to do any premarket testing in the United States. So although cosmetic and beauty products are regulated by the FDA (under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act), there is no FDA approval required for any combination of ingredients other than color additives. It is up to you to know what is in them and what is best for your skin.

A brief lesson on skin.

The skin consists of several layers which are grouped into the epidermis (the top layer), the dermis (next layer down) and the hypodermis (bottom layer of the skin). These layers are made up of human cells which are very complex structures with lots of barriers preventing chemicals from moving in, around, and out of them easily. So any chemical that is going to make it from outside the body all the way into our bloodstream has a long way to go. Absorption depends on molecule size, chemical solubility, the “vehicle” in which is it transported (i.e. your skincare product) and whether or not the chemical reacts with the enzymes in your skin. Our skin is an elimination system, we have over 4 million sweat glands, wow! In relation to naturally occurring chemicals escaping our bodies through our skin, our bodies do push toxins and toxic chemicals out through our skin, which is part of its job. We don’t always reuse the same hormones and chemicals internally and we are continually producing and consuming more, so our skin (along with our liver, kidneys, and lungs) is always working to detoxify our bodies.

Penetration and Absorption – what’s the difference?

Skin Absorption vs. Penetration

There is a difference between penetration and absorption. Penetration is when a chemical makes it into the deep layers of the skin, while absorption is when the chemical actually makes it to the bloodstream. These two terms are usually used interchangeably, which is not correct. While both are important considerations when choosing skincare, the absorption rate is the one you want to look at. Most chemicals, even if they can penetrate to the deepest levels of the skin, are too big to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

Oil and Water don’t mix… unless you make mayonnaise.

The outer layer of the epidermis is lipophilic (oil-loving) and hydrophobic (water-hating), which is why we don’t fill up with water every time it rains or we shower. Oils that do penetrate this top layer don’t make it much further. The deeper layers in the epidermis start to change in chemical composition and contain more water, making it harder for oil to penetrate since oil and water don’t mix.  Skincare companies use a handy trick to get past those skin defenders: the process of emulsification, where they blend oil with water to make an emulsion. An example of this is when mayonnaise is made, they effectively blend oil and water-based ingredients using egg yolk to bind them together. All of your lotions are generally a blend of oil and water with an emulsifier. This is why most people prefer lotions over thick creams; they like the feel of the lotion quickly absorbing rather than something thicker sitting on the outer layers of the skin. Some scientists can trap anti-aging compounds, which you want to go deeper into the skin, using a blend of oil and water. If a product is “amphiphilic” (both oil and water-loving), it can make it deeper into the layers of the skin, although absorption still depends on the chemicals in question, the molecule size and how it reacts with your skin.

Every chemical has a different absorption rate and to complicate things more; some chemicals react on the skin and make other chemical compounds more or less absorbable. Ethynol (alcohol), for example, is a common ingredient in skincare products that actually increases the absorption rate of other chemicals that are present. This is because it breaks down the skin’s natural barriers and because it pulls apart chemicals into individual constituents so they are small enough to absorb. So don’t think that one product, like a lotion, is absorbed into your bloodstream. The environment and our bodies work to break down those larger products into many chemical components.  If they are small enough to be absorbed, they will show up in the body as parts of the larger product, rather than the product as a whole. Again, every ingredient in your skincare products is important!

A note on water in your skincare products

If you use any skin care product that contains water, be sure it also contains a preservative. This includes products that contain water-based ingredients such as aloe vera, juices, teas, fruits, milks, and more.

Many people are against preservatives (for good reason), but everything in moderation – preservatives can be a wonderful thing (they keep us safe) when used wisely. This is one reason why our face masks are dry powders that you add the “water” to. Since the liquid (milk, yogurt, honey, etc.) is added just before use, a preservative is not needed.

All skin is unique.

Remember, we are all unique! All of us have different skin types depending on our age, skin color and environment. Even the seasons affect the ability of our skin to deal with certain chemicals. And the specific activity we are doing can affect how chemicals penetrate the skin and how they are further absorbed. People with skin disorders such as dermatitis or very dry skin can be sensitive to certain chemicals. The skin’s barrier properties can be compromised which means the defenses normally inherent in our skin are not functioning normally. It is impossible to put a figure on absorption rate, and it is impossible to estimate how much ends up in our bloodstream; every person is different and every chemical is different. You can question what you put on your skin but your body’s response to it will be individual.

The Final Verdict – Will what I put on my skin absorb into my body?

The final verdict to the question “Does our body absorb what we put on our skin” is yes and no. The chemists who say that our skin holds back the tide are generally right, our body’s largest organ protects us from the daily onslaught of chemicals and can stop them from getting into our bodies. On the other hand, the natural/holistic movement also has a point: while our skin is not a sponge, it is certainly taking in some of the ingredients that we apply and transporting them further down into the body. We are very happy to know that we are not blatantly absorbing everything we come in contact with.

Our advice to you is to read your labels, understand what you are putting on your skin and consider gentler alternatives if you need it. Stick with natural skincare products to ensure you are nourishing your skin. Here at Alō Goods, we take pride in nourishing the body from the outside in with all-natural, handmade products using only ingredients that would make Mother Nature proud. We are honest about our ingredients; all are listed in plain English and we use sustainable packaging. Remember, you are in charge of your body. And, we are here to help and answer any questions you may have.

Here are some links to where we sourced our information from and so you can do your own research:

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