How Much Skin Care Does Your Skin Absorb?

by Carole Bourne

I remember being shocked many, many years ago with the amount of chemicals found in one commercial lipstick – and an expensive one at that.  I was even more horrified with the percentage we ingest into our body from that one lipstick.  Yuk!  You’ll be shocked.  From that day on I switched to organic or as chemical free lipsticks and lip gloss as possible.

Over the years I’ve gradually changed all my skin care and health care products over to healthier options, and eliminated chemicals and artificial fragrances as much as possible.

So to share with you a few well researched facts on this topic,  I thought I’d hand you over to an expert in the area –  Ananda Mahony.

Ananda is a naturopath and skin care specialist who has been working in the nutraceutical research & development since 1998.  Her speciality now is organic skin care and helping people with skin issues.

She has a business in Brisbane, Australia and a free natural skin care education centre on line which is well worth checking out if you have skin problems.

Hope you find her article useful and informative.

We absorb up to 60%:

By Ananda Mahony

“We absorb up to 60% of what we apply to our skin” is an often cited factoid but is it actually true? Well I came across this research to show strong evidence that we do in fact absorb quite a bit of what is applied.

For example rates of skin absorption of contaminants in public drinking water were studied by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. The study found that the skin absorbed an average of 64% of the total contaminant dosage.

Underarm and gentilia absorb up to 100%:

In another study the face was found to be 2-6x more permeable than other body surfaces such as the torso.  And, the underarms and genitalia to be even more permeable.

In fact, the underarms and genitalia showed up to a 100% absorption estimate (Kasting, 2005).

The studies showed that absorption rate varies depending on the compound. Some examples include, caffeine, which is absorbed by the skin at 48% while DDT is absorbed at 10%.

Alarmingly  fragrance ingredients, showed a 100% absorption rate (Robinson et al, 2000).

So there is basis to this information and in some cases, research implications are worrisome, particularly in regard to phthalates which are found in artificial fragrances.

In any case regardless of actual percentage rates, it makes sense to know the ingredients in our skin care products so we know what we are applying and absorbing.    As I am sure you all know my bias, you will understand that I think  natural  & organic products are the obvious choice as it immediately cuts out artificial preservatives, fragrances and color compounds that are either suspected or confirmed to be harmful to us.


Ananda Mahony ND has an natural skin care educational centre on line.  You can visit by clicking here.

Thanks to benchilada’s for photo


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Syndrome April 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm

The studies showed that absorption rate varies depending on the compound. Some examples include, caffeine, which is absorbed by the skin at 48% while DDT is absorbed at 10%.


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