Last night, you tried out a new skin product. It seemed to go well; it felt nice going on, didn’t leave weird residue and even smelled kind of nice. Is it a keeper? To decide that, you need to know the answer to the nagging query, “Did penetration occur?” Skin products are often advertised as having active ingredients that penetrate your skin, but how can you tell for sure? Here are some of the things you need to know about penetration that your mother never told you.
In the cosmetic world, penetration refers to the ability of cosmetic ingredients to sink into the lower skin cells layers. However, with skin supplies, as in other cases (ahem), there are certain times in which penetration is desirable and others when it is not. On the cosmetic end, if a beauty supplier wants to improve the feel of the formula on the skin or product’s water resistance, he or she will want the product to penetrate.
However, other suppliers may claim that their products penetrate skin to make the “active ingredient’ more effective. In such instances, they may declare their products contain ingredients that interact with the metabolism of the skin cells, working skin wonders such as collagen production or even wrinkle removal. The truth of the matter is that, in the United States, any product affecting skin metabolism is considered a drug. If products existed that could actually accomplish these great feats, they would thus be considered drugs and subject to more extensive testing than they were given before they were marketed in the US.
Despite the fact that legitimate claims of product penetration are for usually non -cosmetic reasons, there are certain times in which you do want the product to penetrate. If this is the case, you may want to consider following your application with an emulsifier or solvent.
Emulsifiers form “micelles” in a solution which can surround “active ingredients.” When applied to the skin, emulsifiers penetrate into the skin and bring whatever is inside the micelle within it. The ability of emulsifiers to penetrate increases when the emulsion’s particle size decreases, so micro-emulsions and nano-emulsions work best. Phosphatideylacholine is a good example of an excellent penetration ingredient.
Solvents, such as propylene glycol can also enhance penetration by shuttling soluble ingredients from the top layers of the skin into the deeper layers.
In practicing safe penetration, certain products are a no no. Cleanser penetration can lead to irritation of skin because cleansers are designed to be removed. In addition, cosmetics which are only designed to make superficial differences should not be allowed to penetrate to living skin cells where it can interfere with skin metabolism.
If you are considering trying out a new skin product in the next few days, we hope you know the ins and outs of penetration. Let us know how your experience went. We would love to hear from you.