The Role of Absorption in Skin Care

The Role of Absorption in Skin Care

January 31, 2019

Each day, through her personal care routine, the average woman puts 168 chemicals on her skin. This number on its own seems alarmingly high, but it becomes even more worrisome when you consider how this exposure can be compounded over a lifetime. Our skin’s barrier is designed to keep moisture in and external irritants out, but many chemicals gain access through everyday skin care products. If you’re seeking to avoid parabens, phthalates and other dangerous chemicals, the best option is to design your own chemical-free skin care routine.

How Does the Skin Barrier Function?

The skin barrier, sometimes referred to as the lipid layer, is in the outermost layer of your skin, known as the stratum corneum. The epidermis is the body’s largest organ and is made up of 5 layers. All of these layers work to keep your body from absorbing bacteria, irritants, allergens and more. However, there are many chemicals that can still get through your skin barrier and end up in your bloodstream – this is known as dermal absorption.  

When you’re using chemical-free skin care products, dermal absorption isn’t something to worry about. But, if there are harsh or dangerous chemicals in your products, you could be damaging your skin barrier and exposing yourself to unsafe chemicals.

Do You Have a Damaged Skin Barrier?

The telltale signs of a damaged skin barrier are: dehydrated, itchy, sensitive and irritated skin. The barrier’s job is to block out irritants and when it fails to do that, the skin becomes sensitized and reactive. Those who live in in dry, harsh climates are more prone to skin barrier dysfunction, as are those with skin conditions like rosacea.

The Cumulative Effect of Chemicals

Phthalates, parabens, and sulfates are all dangerous chemicals found in common skin care products and known to be absorbed through the skin. The effects are alarming:


  • Sulfates, which are often used in cleansing agents, can act as irritants to the eyes, lungs and skin.
  • Synthetic fragrance ingredients can cause skin rashes, headaches, coughing, and other respiratory irritation.

Possible Cancer Risk

  • Sulfates also contain 1,4-dioxane which is a possible carcinogen among laboratory animals.
  • Phthalates are listed as a “probable human carcinogen” by the EPA and are found in products with fragrances, soaps and moisturizers.
  • Parabens are absorbed through the skin and accumulate in the body. These chemicals are thought to be endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen, possibly linking them to breast cancer.

For Chemical Free Skin Care, Try Theoderma

By using gentle products and adhering to a chemical-free skin care regimen, you can avoid dangerous chemicals, support your skin barrier and get healthier, more beautiful skin in the process. Try our Meet Your Match tool or shop our collection to find products perfectly designed for your skin.

Savy Guthrie has been a PA working in dermatology for 17 years and has worked in medicine for 20 years overall.  She has treated tens of thousands of patients, helping them achieve healthy, beautiful skin. 

Savy Guthrie is a dermatology PA with 17 years of patient care experience and is the founder of Theoderma Skin Care.

Savy with her dog

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