Our skin does a pretty good job of keeping things out of our blood stream, but there is a lot of controversy out there about just how much your stratum corneum (the top layer of your skin) actually absorbs. Skin care ingredients are either absorbed into your skin cells before entering your blood circulation; they pass between skin cells before entering blood circulation; or are absorbed into glands, and quite often retained and stored in those glands, before being excreted out of the body (source). This can either be good news or bad news – we do want the good guys to penetrate the stratum corneum, like Vitamin C and E, while keeping the more harmful ingredients, like Retinol-A, out.
It is impossible to put a figure on this absorption rate and it is impossible to estimate how much ends up in our bloodstream. Every person is different and every chemical is different, however,due to this uncertainty, it is always good to question what you put on your skin!
Here are 5 Tips for Cleaning up your Skin Care Routine:
1. Look for Products Made with Simple, Organic Ingredients
If the ingredients list is endlessly long or you can't decipher a lot of it, chances are there are chemicals in your skin care products. Look for products that are made with ingredients you recognise! Things like natural clays and minerals and nourishing butters and oils. The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database allows you to search for ingredients and find out how toxic they are (or are not). Check it out!
2. Avoid Fragrances
Fragrance is another way of saying "hidden chemicals". Found in many skin care products, fragrances are considered "trade secrets" and companies are not required to tell you the actual ingredients being used. Much safer to opt for products that are scented with therapeutic grade essential oils. Essential oils are derived from the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Totally natural!
3. Go Minimal!
How many products currently make up your daily hair and skin care routine? Cleanser, toner, moisturiser, cover up, lip balm, mascara, shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, perfume... cutting back on the products you use will not only save you money, but will also cut down on the amount of packaging you need to dispose of. Better to use fewer, safer products, than an army of toxic ones.
4. Try Natural, Home Remedies
Sometimes simple, natural ingredients, commonly found in your pantry can do as good of a job (or better). Try using coconut oil as a moisturiser and makeup remover, sugar for a body scrub, baking soda to exfoliate your face, or raw honey, turmeric and cinnamon as a face mask. If it’s safe to eat, it’s safe to put on your skin.
Here are some of our fave, simple, skin care DIYs:
Where you spend and invest your money is a powerful way of voting everyday to support a healthy planet - and support the companies whose values support that, too! If many of us switch our spending habits to preference organic, vegan, cruelty-free products it signals to the beauty industry that in order to stay relevant, companies need to drop their harmful ingredients and practices. Every time you purchase an organic product you tell the world you want farmers to grow safe and sustainable crops and you want companies to utilise them. Every time you buy something that is vegan and cruelty-free, you tell the world that the world's climate and animal protection matters. Stop supporting companies that harm the Earth and harm your body!