Something I hear a lot from clients is “I like to let my skin breathe” or “I know I should let me skin breathe”. Generally what they’re talking about is keeping the skin free-from heavy creams or foundations, in their mind, to allow it to “breathe”.
Whilst I’m all in favour of keeping the skin free-from unnecessarily heavy moisturisers and synthetic chemical-laden makeup, I feel it’s important to dispel the myth as to whether it actually breathes.
While the skin does require an oxygen supply to function and remain healthy, no measurable amount (almost negligible) comes from the open air. If our skin relied on oxygen from the air surrounding it alone then we’d all suffocate whilst swimming or taking a bath! The main oxygen supply comes from the respiratory system i.e. the lungs (we are human and not amphibian after all!) then via the blood supply found in the dermis and is transferred from the capillaries to the cells by diffusion.
Whilst we’re on the subject of occlusives and acne, some people may ask if the product is “non-comedogenic” does that mean it’s better in someway. The answer is no, not really. All non-comedogenic really means is that the ingredient or product won’t clog the pores. The issue here however is not really about ‘clogging’ the pore but rather ‘covering’ the pore and preventing the skin from functioning optimally. By interfering with its natural functions such as secretion and desquamation, then you can cause a blockage within the pore i.e. a comedone.
So to summarise the original question “does your skin breathe”, the answer is NO or at least not how you’d think. The more accurate term when removing that heavy foundation would be “I’m allowing my skin to carry out it’s natural metabolic functions”.