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Détoxifier sa peau : vrai ou faux ?

Can we detoxify our skin: myth or reality?

Creams, serums, masks... over the past few years, products labeled as "detox" have been emerging in the cosmetics market, promising to detoxify, purify, and purge the skin of its numerous toxins. But is this really the case? We explain everything in this article.

How does the body eliminate toxic substances?

The body has five emunctories, that is, organs or systems that participate in the elimination of toxins and metabolic waste from the body.

  • The liver: as the body's main filter, it metabolizes essential metals, such as copper and zinc, but also neutralizes harmful heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury to prepare them for excretion from the body. Liver cells also produce groups of enzymes that regulate the metabolism of orally administered drugs and play a significant role in the body's defense against toxins by breaking them down into non-toxic products. Similarly, ingested alcohol (ethanol) is absorbed by liver cells to be transformed into acetaldehyde and then into acetate, before being eliminated through the kidneys;

  • Theintestine: Peyer's patches, lymphoid follicles located in the terminal part of the small intestine (ileum) largely composed of B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes, eliminate parasites and other foreign substances before nutrients are absorbed into the blood;

  • The kidneys: they filter and eliminate toxic waste produced by the normal functioning of the body and transported by the blood, such as urea, uric acid, or creatinine, as well as foreign substances such as drug residues, before excreting them in the urine. They also regulate and maintain the necessary amount of water and mineral substances (sodium, potassium, calcium...) in the body;

  • The immune system: this perfectly orchestrated network of cells and molecules is designed to recognize foreign substances and eliminate them from the body. The components of the immune system are at work in the blood plasma, in the lymph, and even in the small spaces between cells. It thus protects the body from foreign and dangerous pathogens (viruses, bacteria, or parasites) that enter the body.

  • The respiratory system : inside the nose, fine hairs trap dirt, other large particles, as well as potentially infectious microorganisms that can be inhaled and reach the lungs. The smaller particles that make it to the lungs are expelled from the respiratory tract by mucus and with each breath due to the inhaled oxygen and the expelled carbon dioxide.

Contrary to what one might sometimes read, toxins cannot be eliminated through the skin or pores. Indeed, the skin does not participate in the detoxification of the body. However, a few studies indicate that the skin naturally eliminates traces of heavy metals and body waste through perspiration and sebum secretion. Nevertheless, the studies on this subject are still limited and the methodology used in these studies is considered dubious by the scientific community.

However, the skin plays a significant role in protecting the body from harmful substances, whether they are microorganisms, heavy metals, or chemical toxins, by forming a physical barrier and secreting substances, such as sweat and sebum, which can help maintain the skin's balance and prevent the accumulation of harmful substances on the skin's surface.

Can cosmetic treatments detoxify the skin?

The term "detoxification" originally refers to a medical procedure aimed at ridding the body of dangerous, often lethal, levels of alcohol, drugs, or poisons through medicinal treatments. However, this term has become popularized in the cosmetic industry to describe products that claim to remove toxins from the skin and purify it.

However, the promise of ridding the skin of toxins with detox treatments is far from reality. It is not possible to detoxify the skin from the outside. Moreover, this concept of "skin detoxification" is not based on any convincing and solid scientific evidence, and is not recognized by the medical community.

However, it is important to clarify that there is a difference between products that claim to purge the skin of toxins present in the body and those that can help defend the skin against toxins present in the environment. Antioxidants, for example, can help counteract the negative effects of environmental toxins by interrupting the damage caused by free radicals when used as part of a daily routine.

However, when other emunctories are saturated with various toxins (tobacco, alcohol, poor diet, medications, etc.), it can impact the health of the skin: the skin becomes pale, it can lead to the appearance of pimples, cause inflammation that manifests as redness and itching, or lead to an increase in signs of aging. To maintain/regain "healthy" skin, one should consider:

  • prioritize foods rich in nutrients, fiber, quality proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods, which are high in sugars, saturated fats, and salt;

  • Drinking enough water: thewater helps to flush toxins from the body, and promotes hydrated skin. It is recommended to drink at least 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day ;

  • Avoiding toxic substances: steer clear of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Indeed, these toxic substances can have a negative impact on skin health: alcohol can lead to skin dehydration and increase the production of free radicals, tobacco can reduce blood circulation, while drugs can cause a loss of elasticity and inflammation of the skin;

  • Managing Stress: Stress can disrupt the body's hormonal balance, which can affect the health of the skin. Meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques can help reduce stress;

  • Engaging in regular physical activity : Physical exercise stimulates blood and lymphatic circulation, which can help eliminate toxins from the body. It is recommended to do at least 30 minutes of exercise per day;

  • Getting sufficient sleep: Sleep plays a significant role in skin regeneration and the elimination of toxins from the body. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you get enough sleep: the amount of sleep required can vary from person to person, but it is generally recommended to sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night;

  • Daily skincare routine: Using gentle and suitable skincare products for your skin type can help maintain a healthy skin barrier and prevent the buildup of toxins on the skin's surface. Certain treatments can help maintain skin health by removing impurities and dead skin cells, reducing excess sebum, and hydrating the skin.


  • KIAT H. & al. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (2015).


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