Sunscreen, mineral oil, parabens - are they absorbed into the blood stream?


Interesting post by Dr. Mercola from a study done in 2009. Although we absolutely don't use any mineral oil, no BPA in our containers and if our creams did actually absorb that easily into your "bloodstream" it would be a good thing. However, I'm not so sure our skin allows that - that's why it's called a barrier. I've asked some experts (other than me of course!) and I'll let you know what they say. Essential oils do, in fact, absorb fairly quickly into the blood stream, but again, that can be a very good thing. But Dr. Mercola makes some pretty bold statements about the permeability of the skin. I've highlighted those statements I find particularly questionable - to quote:

Now these are Dr. Mercola's words not mine: "Remember, your skin is your largest organ -- and also the thinnest. Less than 1/10th of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable. Most items you rub on  your skin will end up in your bloodstream, and will be distributed throughout your body. This is why I'm so fond of saying "don't put anything on your body that you wouldn't eat if you had to..." and a petrochemical is certainly not something you would eat!

Putting chemicals on your skin may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body.

However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs. And once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down. When you add up daily exposure over the course of a lifetime, it really adds up."  End of quote!


First and foremost, the reason you should choose a nature-based, earth-based product is NOT because of all the scare tactics and the particularly scary discussion about everything being absorbed into the blood stream and then to your organs! Good grief - and this is a Medical Doctor, who, of course, has his own "certified organic" skin care line - just a thought.

The reason we started our business was that we didn't want the mineral oil, the parabens, the sharp harsh fragrances and particularly because of all the products that were accumulating in the bathroom closet not being used because they DID NOT WORK!  I stopped using parabens when I finally found they were the culprit for my breakouts! We discovered the same thing with my daughter. I'm not saying that's true of everyone, but it is a distinct possibility. I didn't even know about the endocrine disruptor thing back in 2002! I just started looking at the ingredients on some of the most expensive products, and looked each of those ingredients up in one of my first books on cosmetic safety and efficacy. The book is written by a cosmetic scientist, Michael Rutledge, "Product of Misinformation - Demystifying Cosmetics and Personal Care Claims, Terms and Ingredients." 

I wrote an article (before Paula Begoun or Skin Deep) on my first website called "Analyze This", where I took each ingredient individually and "analyzed" a 2 oz jar of "Re-Storation by Z. Bigatti", which cost $150.00 in 2002! I looked up what was said about each ingredient and what exactly was that particular ingredient doing, or NOT doing, for your skin. Was it doing anything bad to your body and, regardless, why would you pay that much for a cream that has this junk in it anyway?!  One of the main ingredients of this expensive cream, at that time, was petrolatum and mineral oil - cheap, cheap, cheap. Regardless of the fact they are petroleum products, the molecules are too big to go anywhere to do any good at all. I'll have to find a way to post that original "Analyze This" article even though I was a rank amateur at the time and had not yet learned about the benefits of essential oils or even what Superoxide Dismutase is (thank you Dr. Perricone), it still gives you a clear indication of why you don't need a lot of synthetic ingredients that cost a lot when nature has already provided you with something much better. With one very important exception - at this point in time, "nature" has not provided you with a lot of good choices for preservatives unless you want the cream to smell like the blend of essential oils that are doing the preservation. Believe me - we are all looking for the Holy Grail. Some think they have found it; I don't think so. They (the preservative system) may be approved for organic certification, but they are still processed. Not saying we aren't testing and hoping, because we are.


At that time, we also had been through an amazing array of totally worthless yet expensive products developed by pharmaceutical companies. My daughter, who has had eczema since birth, and I needed something better. In my research I became acutely aware that it is always a good idea to use products as close to nature as possible. NO - they do not have to have the USDA seal - only very few product lines have that and the majority of those are just a bunch of oils, maybe some butters, melted down and put in a jar - essentially that's a balm! You can easily do this at home people!!  It takes a lot more expense, expertise, extensive research and testing, testing, testing to make a real cream or lotion that actually affects the health of your skin and doesn't rot in less than 2 weeks! Creams and lotions are emulsions - meaning the oil and the water have to figure out how to get mixed together. Think of homemade mayonnaise or vinaigrette's. So - we use "emulsifiers".  In the beginning I used beeswax and borax - it worked but not always and not for long periods of time, besides borax was getting a bad rap at that time. Most of us use what we call Emulsifying wax NF - we use the vegetable based one. Once you've done your testing, testing, testing (did I say testing, testing, testing?) - you can figure out how much emulsifier and preservative you need for the percentage of oils, butters and water in your formula. It is a science, it's interesting and it's fun. By using water in your cream, you can add all sorts of great ingredients that come directly from botanical sources; i.e., blackwillow bark extract, among many others. Many companies are trying to figure out how to make their products meet the organic standards set up by the USDA for AGRICULTURE! So - they're telling us we have to have an organic emulsifier, an organic or approved preservative, etc. What does this mean to you? It means that almost all products that are creams or lotions and have been "certified organic" by the USDA have sacrificed quality for marketing. Look for yourself - what do most of them have at the top of their list of ingredients? Hmmm - organic alcohol! Yep, it may even be organic grape alcohol - it's alcohol nonetheless. They are using that ingredient as their "organic" and "approved" preservative. Do you know that it takes a very large percentage of alcohol to preserve any cream? David Steinberg, the "preservative guru for cosmetic companies" says that alcohol (denatured in the cosmetic world) is "active against everything but dependent on concentration."  Although actually he's not 100% correct on this, because alcohol isn't totally effective against molds - but that's another blog. He tells us that when the "concentration falls below 15% alcohol actually becomes a growth medium." So, that means we need at least 15 to 20%, and probably more than that, depending on how many botanical ingredients are included and what the percentage of water to lipids is - bacteria grows in water, not oils (lipids). Do you also know what alcohol, regardless if it is organic or not, does to your skin? I think you do.


I'm just not sure I agree with his bold statements about the permeability of the skin. We learned in nursing school that the skin is a barrier, but it only takes a little bit of knowledge and experience to realize that the permeability of most people's skin certainly depends on the health of an individual (diabetics for sure), their age, their ethnicity, and many other variables. Not saying I totally disagree, but there is still much debate out there and to boldly go where no one has is a bit too much marketing prose.

We changed to "as close to nature" as possible just because that's how we live our lives in general. Dr. Mercola has a profit incentive (his own certified organic skin care line), when he says to look for the USDA seal, that is just a bunch of hog wash! A lot of politics in play I'm afraid. Do look at the ingredients - always look at the ingredients. Look for oils and butters that are natural and are at the top of the list. You NEED a preservative!! Unless you want to use your cream in one week or two (probably less in the summertime) - and it certainly couldn't/shouldn't sit on a shelf for very long if at all. That's why most of the USDA certified organic skin care products are made without water! Water causes the bacteria to grow. So do you really want a greasy balm all the time? It's excellent for some applications and we make a great one. But for every day hand and body cream -  give me a thick, rich cream made from certified organic oils and butters - NOT shea extract, but shea butter! You can't make a CREAM without water - that's why it's called an emulsion. These products actually HEAL skin issues, not just cover them up like the dermatology/pharmaceutical products that are thrown at you. Steroids eventually thin the skin and make it less of an effective barrier.


If you want healthy, hydrated, regenerated skin tissue, find products that have ingredients that are plant-based oils and butters at the beginning of the ingredient list, not as extracts at the end of the list. Botanical extracts are awesome and they will often come at the end because you don't need a lot and often they are "tinctures", which are alcohol based extracts. Essential oils will also be listed at the end of the list because there are safety limits for the percentage allowed or needed. You really don't want a large percentage of either of those. Ethical cosmetic formulators research and know the percentage of each ingredient that they need to formulate a particular product to allow it to perform the way they want it to - and that should be to be beneficial for your skin and not harmful to your body. My advice? Look for those formulators and companies who are more interested in the health of your skin than they are about how the USDA certified organic seal will affect their bottom line. Oh - and yes, I do have a profit incentive here, but that is not what motivates our company.

Thanks for listening!