When you think about when you think of cholesterol? Chances are you’re not thinking about skin care products. Am I right? Well, you better start thinking about it because it has everything to do with your skin – more than you think. What I’m going to cover here today is everything you need to know about cholesterol with regards to your skin and beauty in general. Before I get started, I want you to head over to your medicine cabinet and I want you to take a close look at the ingredients that you see on some of the packages. Any of them contain this ingredient? If you say no, then I know you’re lying!
All About Cholesterol & Your Skin
Cholesterol is not only found in our bloodstream and other tissues but is very often an ingredient in the personal care and beauty products. While many people believe that all cholesterol is bad for the body, you need to know that there are a couple of types of cholesterol which exist.
Guess what, one of these are good, and yes, it’s a good form of cholesterol and ultimately good for your body. The HDH – high-density cholesterol is essential for the proper functioning of your arteries. What’s worse then? Well, it’s the LDH – low-density cholesterol that clogs the bloodstream and that’s the “bad stuff” so to speak.
Do skin care products require this ingredient? Is it necessary for these products to contain cholesterol? What is the purpose of cholesterol, and why it is added to beauty products? Are those the types of questions that you have? Keep reading and find out everything you need to know about this ingredient!
Where Does It Come From?
I’ll try not to get too scientific on you here. Cholesterol is a biomolecule and it gets synthesized in all animal cells. This is an essential process for all animal life, as it’s a structural component of the membranes, and also serves as a precursor for the synthesis of hormones, vitamin D and the acids that are excreted by the bile and are essential for the digestion of food. It also acts as a transport molecule and signal molecule within your cells. So, pretty much, this is a very important molecule in the body. Although many people down talk it and say bad things, it’s not all bad!
The cholesterol used in skin care and other cosmetics products is most often derived from lanolin (wool extract). As an alternative, it’s sometimes derived from squalene – a plant-based cholesterol source.
Uses of Cholesterol
Apart from the mentioned functions of cholesterol in the body, it also has a few uses in skin products. The top layer of the skin is called the stratum corneum and cholesterol is naturally found in this layer in a concentration of about 25%. The top, protective layer of skin also contains about 50% ceramides and 10-15% of the remaining layer are fatty acids.
The top layer is the protective layer, meaning, it’s constantly protecting against pollutants which come in contact with your skin. This layer prevents moisture from escaping and your skin drying out. When the cholesterol becomes depleted, the protective layer weakens. As a result, the skin becomes more prone to damage and dryness. Weathered, dry skin is very prone to wrinkles forming, along with other skin issues that I won’t even get into right now. Things can get really messy.
Fear not, that’s where cholesterol comes into play! Cholesterol helps the skin retain the normal function of the top layer, increasing the moisture retention and strengthening the overall health of the skin. Since cholesterol is a lipid, it also helps the skin with damage repair caused by excessive exfoliation or from using overly aggressive products. I know, it sounds strange, don’t ask too many questions, just trust me!
The Impact Of Cholesterol
A skin care product that aims to improve the health and quality of the skin should contain cholesterol, and most products contain from 0.1 to about 5 percent cholesterol, depending on the intended application.
The cholesterol level in the skin drops as we age, and most anti-aging products contain cholesterol as it has a repairing and protective effects on the skin.
Cholesterol is also commonly used as an emulsifier. Basic science taught us that water and oil don’t mix well and they become separated very easily. When needing to blend water-based and oil-based ingredients in a product, an emulsifier is added. Since cholesterol already has a nice, effect on the skin, and the much-needed ability to stabilize, it’s often used as an emulsifier.
Full Disclosure: People with high cholesterol should not worry at all. Topically applied cholesterol containing skin care products do not enter the bloodstream. You can check with your dermatologist if you’re concerned, but you have nothing to worry about, I promise.
Toxicity Levels of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is rated as safe to use in all skin care products by both the US CIR (Cosmetics Ingredient Review) Expert Panel and the EU Cosmetics Directive. The only comment that they have about this ingredient is that it should comply with all animal-by-product regulations.
After intensive testing, it’s been proven that cholesterol contained in cosmetics products does not cause any irritation, sensitivity or inflammation, and it’s safe to use. So, even if you have very sensitive skin, you can use any product containing this as it’s an ingredient that will not cause any issues at all.
Found in all animal cells, cholesterol is a very important molecule. It plays a very important role in living organisms. It’s found in cell membranes, in the blood, in bile acid, and as a precursor for the creation of many important molecules such as the steroid hormones, Vitamin D and other things.
In the skin care products, cholesterol plays a protective role on the skin, helping it heal, restore itself, and protect. It acts as an emulsifier in products, making it possible for oil-based and water-based ingredients to stay mixed.
So, this is a prime example as to why you cannot count out any skin care ingredient just because many people tell you it’s bad for you.