The Impermeable Facts of Skin Penetration and Absorption

“Nanu-Nanu!”

Who would have guessed that Mork from Ork would have inspired such an interpretation of the scientific study of skin absorption?  While researching the topic, it is easy for the reader to be convinced that skin absorbs whatever it touches—just like the Mork & Mindy character and his habit of drinking liquids by sticking his finger in a glass.  While this would certainly make wine tasting parties fascinating to observe, the suggestion that skin absorbs whatever is applied to it is an irresponsible exaggeration of the facts.

Skin is a fascinatingly complicated system, designed to protect against external harms (bacteria, UV radiation, etc,) regulate body heat, and manage nutrient levels and water loss.  Many a chemical is frustrated at the inability to penetrate this protective barrier—but some substances can penetrate the skin and absorb into our bodies.  Whether these chemicals cause harm depends on the amounts that penetrates and are absorbed, and how the chemical acts once it is inside the body.  Does it throw a party and set up shop, or do the bouncers of your body show the chemical the door?

Is That a Horny Layer, or are you Just Happy to See Me?

Skin is comprised of three primary regions, the outer epidermis and middle dermis and the lowest area, the hypodermis.  The epidermis consists of multiple strata (i.e. layers,) with its superficial the most crucial in prevention of skin penetration.  This outermost layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum (flattened cells, also known as the horny layer,) serves as your body’s primary defense—and it’s dang good at its job.

The stratum corneum, thick with dead skin cells (mostly keratin) and various waxy substances, acts as a wall of protection from external moisture, chemicals, UV radiation and is your foremost guard against the bacterial world.  As these dead bits fall of, or exfoliated from the body, the lower layers of skin replenish the surface with additional keratin.

Meet the lower layers!  The stratum lucidum is the translucent, second layer of the epidermis in thicker areas, which sits atop the stratum granulosum.  The granulosum is responsible for keratin protein production.  The stratum spinosum and the lowest layer, the stratum basale, new cells are produced and pushed upwards.  Collectively, these layers form the flexible shield against your environment…and that’s the way they all became the Brady Bunch!

Let’s take a closer look (A microscopic glance!) at what substances penetrate skin, and which actually absorb into our bodies!

Penetrating and Absorbing the Facts

Not everything we touch or put on our skin is fully absorbed into our bodies.  Otherwise, we’d quite literally be drinking our own bathwater (or swell up like sponges during a swim!)  Wait, you say!  Doesn’t some water get into our skin to cause it to wrinkle?  Remember that dead skin cells fill the stratum corneum—these cells are Jiffy Popped as they soak up the water, which is what causes the “wrinkled” look.

Now, if water were to penetrate the surface layer of skin, we could end up with unpleasant fluid blisters, or as mentioned above never swim in a public pool again.  Luckily, this isn’t a risk, and after a short while, the water evaporates and our stratum corneum returns to normal.

The distinction between penetration and absorption is a crucial one where measurement of chemical risk is concerned.

  • Skin Penetration represents the amount of a topically chemical that exists between the top layer (stratum corneum) and the bottom layer (stratum basale.)  During penetration, the body does not yet absorb the chemical, and it cannot affect the body systems.
  • Skin Absorption occurs when the topically applied chemical breaks the skin barrier to reach the bloodstream.  Whether this chemical becomes a risk is determined by what occurs after absorption.  You body can filter (The bouncers!) out the chemical via bodily fluids, or bioaccumulation (build up) occurs.
  • Many variables affect the speed (or probability) of penetration and absorption.  First, the composition of the chemical to which skin is exposed.  The area of skin that is exposed (thinner-skinned areas are more susceptible to penetration and thicker skin is less) and the condition of the skin are all significant factors.

There are a number of scare statistics running about on the internet that state our bodies absorb a tremendous amount of topically applied chemicals.  A few interesting ones that I’ve come across:

  • Our skin absorbs ____ number of pounds of cosmetics each year
  • Our skin absorbs a high percentage of everything we apply to it each day/year/etc.
  • A chemical was found in human urine, therefore we are absorbing and slowly marching towards oblivion by said chemical
  • If skin didn’t absorb everything we apply to it, then why does a medication patch delivery work so well?

Such statements are exaggerations, distortions, or a little of both where skin penetration and absorption are concerned.  The composition of the chemical exposed to skin determines its possibility of entering the skin—primarily the molecule size and solubility of the chemical.

For the purpose of this paper, we’ll limit our scope to chemicals in skin care and cosmetics (you’re welcome!)

The design of cosmetic and skin care formulas is to benefit the outer layer of skin— absorption into the body would waste the effects of these products.  Antioxidants in skin care won’t do their job if they don’t stay in the layers of skin—it is challenging enough to develop a formula that enables an ingredient to penetrate the surface layer!  The majority of cosmetics are not soluble in skin (i.e. lipid, or fat-soluble) and are too large in molecule to fit through the stratum corneum.  Precisely because of these qualities, some skin care formulas require specially developed “penetration enhancers” to deliver ingredients like vitamin C or retinol.

This includes transdermal medication patches!  These types of medicine require formulation specifically for this purpose, requiring chemical engineering to create a molecule that is soluble in skin, and small enough to penetrate and absorb into the body.

Much controversy has arisen over the ingredients in skin care products that inadvertently absorb into our body and the possible risk to our health.  Does absorption equal harm?

Everything is a Risk, but Not Necessarily a Harm

Absorption into the body doesn’t equate to bodily harm.  What happens after a chemical is absorbed makes the distinction!  Our bodies design will filter out molecules and water, disposing of what doesn’t belong by excretion via bodily fluids.  Safety testing for the effect of ingredients that absorb into our bodies:

  • Evaluates how (and how long) we are exposed (topical or oral application, etc)
  • Composition of the ingredient, (molecule size, solubility, etc)
  • How the ingredient behaves after absorption

These are crucial points for research, as a study of how an ingredient reacted when fed to a test subject is somewhat relevant in understanding what happens when you drink your body lotion—but not as relevant in studies that demonstrate topical application.  This is a very, very important point to consider when reading the latest scare report on cosmetics and skin care.  Often, such reports cite research that fed large quantities of a pure substance to arrive at their conclusions—hardly honest use of a reference!

Determining the safety of a chemical in skin absorption is about risk assessment.  The toxicity of an ingredient is in the amount absorbed and accumulated, or “the dose makes the poison.”  The nutrients and substances we depend on for our health can kill us in a large enough amount.  When a chemical penetrates our skin and is absorbed into our bodies, is may be converted into another chemical form, metabolized or accumulate.

At the dose in which a chemical becomes harmful (toxic) is the threshold, less than this amount is safe, and more becomes a danger.  Our body is designed to break down chemicals into other forms that are easily excreted via fluids.  The threshold is the over/under amount of our bodies ability to process a chemical and still keep the body healthy.

Considering this, when you read about the latest scare over a chemical detected in urine, remember what we’ve just discussed!  A chemical eliminated from the system isn’t an indicator of threat to health, but your body working as intended and filtering the substance out.  The faster this process occurs, the less (if any) impact on your health.

Flushing out the Truth

It’s far too easy to present a frightening statistic in a believable manner, which is why it’s important to question the motives of a flashy headline that proclaims death by lipstick/body lotion/etc.  It’s also easy to present distorted research on skin penetration and absorption—as it can be complicated to research to find the truth.  The facts are that very little is capable of penetrating skin, and even less is absorbed into our body.  So the next time you read a headline, judge for yourself what’s true by asking questions and consider the source!

__________________________

Nathan Rivas is counting the weeks until he graduates with his Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University, and the months until he begins graduate school.  A strong believer in science, the written word, and coffee, he is thrilled to add a voice to the forum of Personal Care Truth.

  • Tmsig

    havw not finished reading yet///but i have to say its look exciting

  • http://twitter.com/essentialU Kayla Fioravanti

    You had my attention at “nanu-nanu”!

    Thank you for clarifying that finding chemicals in urine is simply proof that the human works like it should be working!@

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nathan-Rivas/100001195250784 Nathan Rivas

      Kayla, you are welcome! “Chemicals detected in urine” seems like a battle cry for the internet scare campaigns, when this doesn’t equate to a bodily harm. There are a lot of variables to consider, but I’ve yet to see an asterisk next to a urine du jour headline!

  • sigal

    Nathan, id like to ask you about pregnant woman-by applying creams with aha -does aha can indanger their pragnancy?does aha accumilate in the body?
    thank you
    sigal

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nathan-Rivas/100001195250784 Nathan Rivas

      Sigal, this is a discussion that each expectant mother would have with their obstetrician, as there are many variables that can impact skin penetration. However, if you are asking about the penetrative abilities of AHAs in skin care applications, glycolic and lactic acids do not penetrate beyond the lower layers of skin, nor were they designed to do so. AHAs do not bio-accumulate in skin.

      • sigal

        Nathan thank you for the quick answer.can you say the same about retinol?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=557766933 Dani Abrahams

    Oh Nathan, for someone so caught up in Academic Credentials an undergrad doesn’t make you a Chemist! As for the “written word” there’s a saying, you can’t believe everything you read. There are many falsities in the “written word”.

    As for this post, I appreciate you attempting to debunk skin absorption. Funny, there are MD’s and PhD’s who created the research you debate. Would you be arrogant enough to say an MD doesn’t know as much as someone who doesn’t have their undergrad? Maybe…depending on the student but highly unlikely. “The suggestion that skin absorbs whatever is applied to it is an irresponsible exaggeration of the facts”. Facts are not science –as the dictionary is not literature. –Martin H. Fischer.
    You quote “Absorption into the body doesn’t equate to bodily harm”. Really? Have you read the contraindications for a Fentayl patch? The manufacturer even recommends the use of gloves when applying the patch. FYI, there are levels of patches; some are fast acting, within 10 minutes others are spread out according to dose. Now, I can tell you from experience that a UA will show positive for drugs with the use of a fentayl patch and will do so from 3-10 days after the patch is removed. The Isopropyl myristate (inactive ingredient) helps with the absorption, but it doesn’t do all of the work.
    Did you think to research smoking patches at all? It’s the same concept.
    Another aspect of skin absorption not mentioned is food allergies. Now a person with an anaphylactic response to peanuts can touch them and go into shock. That doesn’t just go for peanuts particularly, that can also be cross-containments of peanuts as well. The skin does provide some protection but it in no way stops the use of an Epi-Pen. Your research shows you that absorption into the body doesn’t equate to harm, tell that to a person with an allergy.
    While I commend all of your research and dedication to the sciences, you have much to learn. I wish you all of the best in your graduate studies. I’m sure there is a future scientist in you yet one the chemical industry will pry upon. My hope for you is that you learn to think outside the box.
    The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them. ~William Lawrence Bragg

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nathan-Rivas/100001195250784 Nathan Rivas

      Dani, it appears you didn’t take the time to read my paper, which explicitly stated that I was limiting the discussion to cosmetic ingredients and skin penetration; otherwise, the article would have been of epic length (and, inappropriate for PCT, no?)

      The Fentanyl patch that you are referring to is a transdermal medication. Now, that’s just irritating. I specifically addressed transdermal patch medications and that there is no extrapolative relevance to the discussion of cosmetic ingredients and/or their penetrative effects on skin. The stratum corneum functions as a barrier to keep many substances out and it does its job so well that transdermal patch medications in this method require engineering for molecule size and solubility, which is the case in delivery systems. The molecules must be small enough to pass through skin (even this isn’t possible with some medicines,) using a membrane to deliver the drug into skin while sealed from outside interaction by the patch back layer.

      Even with molecule size appropriateness, in many instances a penetration enhancer must be used to facilitate entry into the layers of the epidermis.

      I am not sure how you feel this is remotely relevant to the discussion; it is almost as if you didn’t even bother to read the article, just the headline.

      Food allergies and skin absorption, again, are off topic.

      I am particularly confounded by your statement of “Funny, there are MDs and PhDs who created the research you debate…” Ok, which research is that? That we absorb everything we touch, or that we absorb pounds of cosmetics on an annual basis? Please, provide a reference for this claim; I will wait on pins and needles.

      I am not sure what your attack on my last quarter as a student accomplishes; I have two courses left, both of which are electives. OK, I guess I need to finish my Topics in Film course before I am capable of participating in academic research.

      Incidentally, earning an academic degree does not immunize you from debate. On the contrary, such education should teach one the value and growth inherent in having your work and beliefs challenged.

      And I do agree that you can’t believe everything written, a concept of which that has crossed my mind several times while I read your post. Thank you for the feedback (and don’t forget citations for your earlier claims!)

      • Baden Holt

        “The molecules must be small enough to pass through skin (even this isn’t possible with some medicines,)”

        How about just use caution and reference personal intuition.
        “I put this on my skin and I feel sick/good. Repeat test. Change/keep cosmetic product.
        If you think I’m ignorant, see you in 100 years :)

        Live, love, laugh.

  • Anonymous

    welll…I donno if you have heard but many places you will find it mentioned that skin absorbs 60% of what is put on it…it sounds crazy coz skin is designed to keep things out and not take in…and then these creams are coming with fancy anti-oxidants n collagens which are supposedly large molecules which cannot even penetrate the upper layer of the skin…..so are they any effective apart from being on the first layer and providing moisture as mucha s they can from the outside???

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nathan-Rivas/100001195250784 Nathan Rivas

      I haven’t seen a single instance of credible research to document the 60% absorption rate of what we apply to skin. If you find such a research document, please pass it on!

      Antioxidants do penetrate skin, but there are necessary steps required to compensate for pH, formula instability and solubility to facilitate the penetration of skin. Antioxidants penetrate skin to assist skin on a cellular level, working to counteract the reactive oxygen species (i.e. the free radicals we always hear about,) that our systems produce in the energy production process (Even our bodies can’t produce clean energy!) Anyway, the short answer to your antioxidant question is yes, these can potentially benefit skin.

      Collagen molecules are too large, and cannot penetrate skin to make good on their promises!

      • Dene62

        I would like to think that the answer to this 60% issue is within my post on the same subject, posted today. http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/01/skin-is-our-largest-organ/

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nathan-Rivas/100001195250784 Nathan Rivas

          Thank you Dene! It was a great post, and I am glad to see that you directly addressed the common misunderstandings where cosmetic product skin penetration and absorption is concerned. The distinction between cosmetics and a product that was specifically engineered for skin penetration (like the infamous transdermal patch argument.)

  • http://www.belongerbotanicals.com/ Ann Belonger

    Much controversy involved. Ultimately each individual will sort through all the information available and come to their own conclusion as to what makes sense to them.

  • sigal

    Nathan hi
    does retinol and paraben penentrate into the blood?can they cause any harm to our body?
    your well writen article has raised meny questions in my head and -thanks
    Is there any list of an harmful ingriedients?

  • Dene Godfrey

    Amanda-Marie, you make several valid points, and it is true that there may be some nanomaterials over which there may be concern, but it is facile to group ALL nanomaterials together and treat them as a single entity with a single identical toxicological profile, and this is one of the main problems in this area.
    I am disappointed that you choose to cite the EWG and CFSC as credible sources of (scientific) information. They are closely-linked lobby groups with their own agenda, with no basis in science – no more, no less.

  • Anonymous

    Amanda-Marie, your frustration comes through in your post. I feel your pain. If I may point out: hundreds of years ago we thought the earth was flat, we thought that plagues on the kingdom were the wrath of God due to the indiscretions of the king with his mistress and both men and women were using white lead powder either as or in their face powder…this does not make me personally feel safer using “products that have been safely used for hundreds of years.”
    “Nano scale ingredients in cosmetics” This is from an IT guy: http://www.idea.ideabing.com/2010/08/15/nanotechnology-in-cosmetics/
    Paper written regarding nano from April 2009: http://www.observatorynano.eu/project/filesystem/files/Cosmetics%20report-April%2009.pdf
    Nanowerk: http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=1505.php
    NanoVIP from a surgeon’s perspective: http://www.nanovip.com/nanotechnology-and-surgery-a-surgeon%e2%80%99s-perspective.html
    Dovepress scientific & med research: http://www.dovepress.com/use-and-potential-of-nanotechnology-in-cosmetic-dermatology-peer-reviewed-article-CCID
    ACS publications: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/bk-2007-0961.ch011
    Doc from the UK from 2008: http://www.which.co.uk/documents/pdf/nanotechnology-and-cosmetics-161175.pdf
    USDL on Occupational Skin Exposure: This is for the manufacturing industry, not for the end use customer. However absolutely should these folks be protected. Snippets from paper: ” Allergic contact dermatitis is present in virtually every industry, including agriculture, chemical manufacturing, rubber industry, wood, painting, bakeries, pulp and paper mills, and many others.” I’ve worked in a bakery and was given an MSDS form. “Estimates of the amount of chemicals absorbed through the skin as discussed below assume that the chemicals passively diffuse through this dead skin barrier and are then carried into the body by the blood flow supplied to the dermis.” Please note the word “assume.” This paper also brings up how inhalation is a problem, too. “A number of conditions can affect the rate at which chemicals penetrate the skin. Physically damaged skin or skin damaged from chemical irritation or sensitization will generally absorb chemicals at a much greater rate than intact skin. Organic solvents which defat the skin and damage the stratum corneum may also result in an enhanced rate of chemical absorption.” “The lethal dose to the skin which results in death to 50% of exposed animals …administered by continuous contact for 24 hours (or less if death occurs within 24 hours) with the bare skin of albino rabbits weighing between two and three kilograms each…” I could have done without this.
    Pub Med study of infertility & spontaneous abortion from female hairdressers: Interesting. Study conducted on 16907 women in their forties from 1997-1999. This is an abstract and doesn’t provide enough information (age during pregnancy, health at that time, any diseases, weight, diet and exercize habits, etc.). It seems contrary to common sense that the non-smokers seemed to have the most risk.

    Is it true that the first nanoparticles were used back in 1961?

    gloriaswanson43

  • Amritha

    I have a question which am unable to assess whether relevant or irrelevant to this specific topic.I am a celiac and I am getting paranoid by whats in this cream or whats in that powder. If there is gluten in these cosmetics , will it affect me?Does the presence or absence of gluten in cosmetics /personal care make a difference or is it one more urban legend?

    • http://www.sterlingminerals.com/ Katherine

      Hello Amritha,

      The Mayo Clinic is clear on this very question and I hope it alleviates some of your concern.  Those with celiac disease are not affected by things we apply to the skin, but is always related to what we ingest. 

      If you were to apply a lipstick let’s say, then this is something that could be ingested in small amounts and there would be concern for this.  But something you apply to the skin is not going to extrapolate to symptoms of celiac disease and there has been no evidence to support this to the contrary.

      This is an article from the Mayo Clinic you may find interesting and should help explain it in full detail.

      http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/celiac-disease/AN01623

  • Jon

    I can tell you as nurse practitioner that OP either has an agenda or is just not being fully accurate here. First, he makes the assumption that everyone has equally and fully functioned skin defenses. On daily basis we see people with compromised skin either from environmental (the sun) or internal (auto-immune). Just common sense when applying anything on your skin. Avoid cosmetics with synthetic fragrances because we simple don’t know which chemicals they are including (as its often proprietary). Stay as natural as possible in what your put on your skin or food you consume.

    • Dene Godfrey

      And I can tell you that the origin of a substance has no bearing whatsoever on its toxicology, be it natural or synthetic, so to suggest staying “as natural as possible” in what you put on your skin is not very useful advice. 21 of the EU’s 26 “fragrance allergens” are natural. There are many other natural products that cause skin problems or worse e.g. at least one species of Amazonion frog secretes a toxin so potent that the touch of a finger absorbs enough poison to kill a grown man. “Natural” doesn’t mean safe, any more than “synthetic” means dangerous – to suggest otherwise is to deal in meaningless generalistion – it’s not even a good “rule of thumb”. One only need avoid cosmetics that contain ingredients that you know cause a skin problem – suggesting a blanket avoidance of, e.g. fragranced products, is unneccesary, as the majority of the population don’t have any issues. It is unfortunate that some individuals do have issues with some cosmetic ingredients, but that’s no reason to cry “foul” and suggest that EVERYONE avoids them.

  • belle vita

    AIDS??? Even if you were trying to make some conspiracy theory argument wouldn’t you mean HIV since AIDS is not the same as HIV and most likely people get HIV first. You just showed how ignorant you are.

  • RIGHT

    So….topically applied medications aren’t ACTUALLY absorbed?? Hogwash dude.

    • http://www.sterlingminerals.com/ Katherine

      Actually it is a completely different type of topical application that also involves nano particles and penetration enhancers. Cosmetics are not drugs so pharma cannot be compared to cosmetics and if cosmetics could do what drugs do, then they are no longer a cosmetic and would require FDA approval as an OTC drug. It is vital that you don’t confuse the two as so many try to correlate the two categories as doing the same when it comes to penetrating our skin to the level of the blood brain barrier. There is no scientific data that supports this theory as is regurgitated by the NGO’s on a recurring basis.

      Now if you can provide the scientific data as it pertains to human research, not animals since these do not extrapolate, then those of us at PCT would appreciate any new recent research that has come to light to support the fiction of cosmetics doing same as drugs.

      • Rodolfo_Baraldini

        On the skin , there is not a traffic light, able to give the green to a molecules distinguishing if it is formulated in the OTC, drugs, cosmetics ; or red, if it is in the polluted water.

        Different formulations are able to improve or reduce permeation, penetration and absorbtion of each molecule, but every molecule has a specific capacity of skin permeation, penetration and absorbtion in function of specific chemical-phisical factors. It is a nonsense the tentative to demonstrate that if it is a cosmetic , cannot penetrate. We need only to demonstrated that, if it penetrate, it cannot damage.

        • http://www.sterlingminerals.com/ Katherine

          though a decent commentary and on some points I will agree @Rodolfo_Baraldini:disqus however the differences in cosmetics vs drug are in fact relevant and to dismiss this tentative is a mistake. Again with all due respect perhaps reread my comment since I addressed to the level of the blood brain barrier, not that our skin cannot absorb within the surface layers of the epidermis, period.

          My point was obvious and absorption has many variables. However I was addressing the comment made about drugs through skin solely. Without getting too involved I tried to make it as simple as possible. Although you may have been wishing to clarify further other than what I initially stated then it would ideal if you could present the peered reviewed studies of cosmetics penetrating to the blood brain barrier which is where they would need to travel which presents the harm that is so often reported incorrectly, which in turn would make these a drug if that was their intention. Unintentionally is where the proof needs to be presented, not theory.

          Thanks

          • Rodolfo_Baraldini

            What is a drug? What is a cosmetic? the answer lies in the conventions and laws that define the two product categories.

            There is no law that says that the substances contained in a cosmetic can not penetrate the skin or be absorbed.

            Nor, as it seems to your specific interest, no law that says that the substances contained in cosmetics can not penetrate the blood-brain barrier.

            The legend reads: “cosmetics can not penetrate or be absorbed” is a meme without any scientific or legal basis. It is also a nonsense because in the skin or in tissues (including the blood-brain barrier) there is not a traffic light that allows substances to pass through or not, according to what is written on the product label.

  • jaklmt

    At risk of sounding ridiculous, I have a question about how well red wine might absorb through the skin during a “red wine body wrap?” The person is on a table that is covered with heating pad, blankets and plastic on top. Then the legs, arms and across the belly is wrapped or draped in material that has been soaked in a mix of red wine and warm water. The person is wrapped, almost cocoon fashion and is left to soak in the wine and warmth. However, my question is, are they soaking in the alcohol to a point where they could become intoxicated?

    • Rodolfo_Baraldini

      I try to give an answer based on the limitated information you gave.
      The Wrapping seems a semi-occlusive system where the evaporation of water and ethanol is retarded.
      In normal condition of topical exposition the evaporation of ethanol and water assure a very limitated penetration.
      The flow of potential penetration through the integer and mature skin of the wine is anyway low and the final systemic absorbtion should be not relevant in term of intoxication.
      Anyway the risk assessment and the toxicological evaluation have to be performed by an expert, considering the duration of the treatment and other risk factors.
      In my ignorance, as example in this kind of treatment I could be more concerned for the short time reaction to the common additives of wine, as the sulphites, then for the acetaldehyde and ethanol.

  • nmcard

    I dont like your article. Its like you are suggesting we shouldnt be concerned about these toxins as our body will pass them and that we should take this accumulative bombardment lightly. With cancer rates soaring we need to eliminate every toxin possible that we ingest and put on our skin- not to mention a louder protest of these toxic chemicals may help move them out of our products that ultimately end up in our water sources of which then we absolutely ingest.

  • toni

    Firstly I think your missing the point that our skin is our biggest organ as our biggest organ why would it not be capable of absorbing at least some of what we put on it and secondly I can literarily smell the difference between a natural organic product and a chemical one so what does that say I no which one I would rather use x

    • Dene Godfrey

      Toni – can you please explain your understanding of the relationship between size and absorption capability? Using your logic, an elephant’s skin would absorb more than that of a mouse. Yes, skin CAN absorb some substances, but this is in no way conected to the size of the skin itself, but to the size and chemical nature of the substance in question.
      Whether or not you actually think you can “literally smell the difference between a natural organic product and a chemical one” (and I think you mean “synthetic”, rather than “chemical”, as everything is a “chemical”) I guarantee that you can’t. Each substance has a unique interaction with your olefactory receptors, and there can be no possible distinction between “natural organic” and synthetic that is distinguishable by smell alone. “Organic” is an entirely subjective concept, and it is entirely unrelated to any specific sensory properties. If you were to be exposed to a substance that had been manufactured in accordance with “organic” procedures, and then the same substance that had been manufactured synthetically, you would not be able to detect the difference, no matter how dearly you would like to think you could.

  • http://ladyslingsthebooze.tublr.com/ atropos_of_nothing

    Nathan—-great article, and you deserve much respect (and maybe a fentanyl patch of your own ;) ) for replying to each of these comments with such patience and civility.
    I often wonder what it is that inspires people, when confronted with clearly-stated and accessible scientific breakdowns of the misinformation they’re being sold, to double down on their commitment to the woo. Especially since the woo is usually costing them money! Maybe I overestimate the degree to which other people’s cheapness matches my own, or maybe I underestimate the degree to which people desperately want to believe that if they spend enough on the right products, they can buy protection from everything they don’t understand.
    I wish, man—I’d be throwing every penny I have at a Sunk-Cost Fallacy Nullification Ray.