How do skincare ingredients absorb into the skin?

The skin cells of the uppermost layer of the Epidermis, the stratum corneum (and the “glue” that holds them together) act as a natural barrier and defense system. It is difficult to achieve deep penetration of any topical product. But thanks to modern-day procedures, and product research, ingredient penetration can now be achieved. So take a brief look at how various methods are used to open up pathways and facilitate deeper penetration of active ingredients.

 

The skin cells of the uppermost layer of the Epidermis, the stratum corneum (and the “glue” that holds them together) act as a natural barrier and defense system. It is difficult to achieve deep penetration of any topical product. But thanks to modern-day procedures, and product research, ingredient penetration can now be achieved. So take a brief look at how various methods are used to open up pathways and facilitate deeper penetration of active ingredients.

1.Size of the molecule

Molecular structure is key to good penetration. This means that the size of the molecules used in topical ingredients must be smaller than the size of the opening of the pores of the skin, or the products will sit on the surface and not penetrate at all.

2. Delivery systems

Two main penetration enhancement ‘carriers’ used by top-rated product brands are

Liposomes and Nanoparticles. These molecules allow for enhanced transport across the various layers of the skin.

  1. a) Liposomes are used to store water-soluble active ingredients allowing enhanced transport across the various layers of the skin.
  2. b) Nanoparticles allow penetration of encapsulated active ingredients. These are excellent carriers for delivery of sunscreens, and Vitamins A and E.

3. Low pH

The skincare industry utilizes certain ingredients to great effect, because of their low pH. Examples of such ingredients are AHAs (alpha hydroxyl acids) and BHAs (beta- hydroxyl acids).

Your skin’s natural pH is between 4.5 and 5.5, which is slightly acidic. This acidic outer layer of your skin keeps bacteria and environmental pollution out and keeps lipids and moisture in. When a product’s pH is below your skin’s natural pH, the product is able to absorb easily in the deeper layers.

This is the exact principle that is used for in-clinic chemical skin peels. The pH of the AHAs or BHAs that are applied to the skin is very low, which allows for intense, yet controlled product penetration.

4Hyaluronic acid

The skin is made up of 68 to 90 percent water, and craves hydration. A dehydrated skin will remove the water content of the skincare product, leaving the active ingredients without the liquid required to make the transfer to the lower layers. The use of natural moisturisers such as hyaluronic acid in your facial and home care products is key to good penetration.

5. Microneedlingis the latest technique in the delivery of actives into the skin. By using a microneedling device, temporary controlled trauma is caused to the skin, allowing active ingredients to be pushed to the deeper layers through the micro-channels that are created.

 

In summary, it is imperative to shop for skincare brands that ensure product penetration. Visit your clinician or therapist to book treatments such as skin peels and microneedling. In this way, you are sure to be getting the most out of your products and treatments for continued health of your skin, as well as management of your skin concerns.