Getting too far under your skin, that is…?
In esthetics, when we talk about penetration, it is important to specify the level at which a particular substance can penetrate. The level of penetration of a cosmetic formula is directly related to its depth of action as well as the purpose/goal/aim of that formula.
Levels of Percutaneous Penetration:
- Contact: Where cosmetic formulas make contact with the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, but do not penetrate. Their main action is cleansing the skin and are easily wiped clean. All facial cleansers are considered contact cosmetics. Products from the Sophyto range with contact properties: Purifying Silken Cleanser; Natural Glycolic Foaming Cleanser; Dual Action Exfoliating Treatment.
- Impregnation: Where cosmetic formulas stay on the surface of the skin to protect them and/or provide color. These formulas should be easily removed and they do not penetrate the skin. Sunscreens and color cosmetics are some examples of impregnation cosmetics.
- Absorption: Where some active ingredients can make their way down into the 12th layer of the stratum corneumto protect them against the environmental aggressors. Day and night moisturizers fall into this category. Products from the Sophyto range with absorption properties: Omega Daily Moisturizer; Balancing Daily Moisturizer; Marine Peptide Brightening Treatment.
- Penetration: Where formulas of small molecular size, such as those containing fat-soluble vitamins and amino acids, can penetrate into the spinous and basal layers of the epidermis. Products from the Sophyto range with penetration properties: pH Optimizing Restorative Toner; Anti Aging Antioxidant Serum; Multivitamin Facial Serum and Tocotrienol Super Skin Concentrate.
- Reabsorption: Where a formula crosses the epidermis and reaches the blood vessels located at the dermal andsubcutaneous level in order to be distributed throughout the body. Substances with such characteristics are considered drugs and not cosmetics.
What’s the difference between a topical drug and a cosmetic?
- A cosmetic is a product that is applied locally and has a local effect.
- A drug (topical) is a product that is applied locally but has a systemic (further reaching) effect.
What’s the deal with penetration enhancers?
A penetration enhancer is, as its name indicates, an agent that improves percutaneous penetration of ingredients to provide fast and long-lasting results. While not all penetration enhancers are toxic per se, it is a fact that they make penetration of toxic/harsh chemicals even easier.
Commonly used penetration enhancers:
- Aloe Vera
- Anionic Surfactants such as SLS (toxic)
- Fat-soluble vitamins (Synthetic vitamin A is toxic – if Vitamin A is required, it should ALWAYS be applied in whole food form)
- AHAs & BHAs (pH disruptor)
- Micronized particles (toxic)
- Nanoparticles (toxic)
If a penetration enhancer is to be used, it is important to take two aspects into consideration:
- The penetration enhancer MUST NOT be toxic.
- Toxic/harsh ingredients MUST NOT be added to the formula.
As we said before, the so-called ‘selective permeability’ of the skin is not fail-safe. It is important to remember that several commonly used chemicals in skin care do end up in our bloodstream and are carcinogenic, genotoxic, immunotoxicants, endocrine disruptors, etc.
Facilitating the penetration of noxious substances would be a humongous mistake – one that could potentially be extremely detrimental to our health.
Via Sophyto Blog