Friday, May 2, 2008

Does Skin Really Breathe?

By Mitch Endick

The short answer to what that all-important skin care question is no. There is a popular notion advanced by some in the wellness and the skin care industry that defoliating, scrubbing and avoiding certain fabrics helps your skin to breath. The term breathing implies that air is transmitted or introduced into the body through the skin or that your body will not function properly if the pores are clogged. One ad even goes as far as to suggest that you are putting your skin at risk by not allowing it to breath. Now in all fairness, there is a small mammal, a species of mouse, that does literally breathe through the skin but for the rest of us skin is a rather impervious, waterproof organ.

The skin is an organ? Thats right, the skin is the largest organ of the human body, just as important as the heart, lungs and liver.

There are scads of products marketed under the general banner of breathable and it is easy to see how people can who do not know how the body functions may take some these claims seriously. A particularly misleading ad claims that using alcohol-based solutions on the face can reduce the amount of oxygen absorbed by the skin. Absorbed? The ad really lays it on thick by claiming the skin can suffocate and using their product can actually increase the oxygen content of the skin by a measurable amount. Again the claim is made that more oxygen will be absorbed into the skin by using their product on a regular basis. This outrageous claim is said to be backed up by clinical research though the source is not listed and has absolutely no basis in fact.

Oxygen is never absorbed through the skin but is supplied solely by the circulatory system of veins and capillaries under the surface of the skin. There are drugs that are introduced into the bloodstream through the skin by transdermal transfer. Most of us are familiar with nicotine and estrogen patches and a variety of other drugs that can be introduced through the skin in a relatively controlled way. There is ongoing research in to the subject of nanotechnology and how it may be used in skin care applications, but the average over-the-counter cosmetic product will not penetrate into or past the epidermal layer.

Still another example of how the language can be misused to sell a nonexistent concept appears in a cyberspace ad for cosmetic products. The claim is made that there exists a process of normal skin respiration and that the skin can be deprived of oxygen through the application of topical compounds. Now respiration can occur as part of a metabolic process in which cells give off carbon dioxide and fluids but this process occurs in the skin as part of the circulatory and respiratory systems. The skin can be deprived of oxygen by applying makeup or other types of skin care products. Topically applied compounds do not penetrate the skin as claimed by some products.

The list goes on and on with one unsubstantiated claim after another. These claims go beyond the colloquial use of a term like breathe which may imply simply that your skin may feel heavy or uncomfortable. Many brands of modern cosmetics marketed to women are lighter in consistency and do not feel as heavy on the skin. This is a desirable quality in contrast to the pancake makeup marketed in the past.

Good quality facial cosmetics can improve your look and when applied properly offer good results. So look for a cosmetic product that suits your needs and enhances your appearance without falling for too much hype.

Author Resource:- Mitch Endick is a short article writer for the popular
skin care web site He provides informative advice on skin care, acne prevention and cure, cosmetic, tanning and sun effects on the skin. His website, is full of skin care remedies and techniques.