The importance of our tough and beautiful skin
Our beautiful skin forms an essential part of our defence system. It is the body’s shield in a world full of pollutants and microbes. To do its job well it must be both tough, and protective, yet supple and well oiled.
Your skin care routine is an essential aspect your health and beauty. To ensure that the body’s largest organ, the skin, remains healthy, vital and vibrant we must understand the structure of the skin and how it functions
This understanding will help us to keep our skins looking young and vibrant, ensuring that it can continue to protect our internal systems from harm.
Biological facts – the structure of the skin
We have on average 6.5 metres of skin covering our body surface. It weighs in at around 3.5 kilograms. Its function is to protect our internal organs, muscles and skeleton from external elements. It also provides us with sensation and controls our body temperature.
The top layer of the skin is called the epidermis, the outermost layer of which is known as the stratum corneum. This is the part of the skin that we can see. It is supported by the dermis, which in turn is supported by subcutaneous fatty tissue also known as the hypodermis.
The colour of your skin is determined by the epidermis through the production of melanin. The epidermis also produces new skin cells. The immune function of the skin is boosted by the Langerhans cells that are present in the epidermis.
The depth of the epidermis varies depending on where it is located on the body. On the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, it is thick and tough. On the eyelids, on the other hand, it is just 0.05mm thick.
The epidermis produces new skin cells at its base. It then pushes them up toward the surface of the skin. It takes approximately 28 days for the new cells to reach the surface of the skin. This is why we usually gauge the effectiveness of a change in skin care routine after 28 days have passed. We shed the skin cells that reach the surface to make space for new ones.
Beneath the epidermis, lies the dermis. It is responsible for regulating body temperature through the generation of perspiration. It also provides the body with sensation as it hosts the nerve endings. This is a vital protective measure, ensuring that we take action when our skin is at risk of damage.
The dermis also hosts the blood vessels that provide vital oxygen and nutrients to the skin. It provides sebum to the skin, keeping it supple and moist. Your body hair is rooted in the dermis where each hair is attached to a muscle the arrector pili. When activated these muscles cause goosebumps.
Next, we have the hypodermis, that subcutaneous layer of fat. This layer of skin contains the connective tissue that attaches the skin to the bones and muscles. The fatty layer helps to control the body temperature and provides padding for the internal organs, muscles and bones. It serves as a support structure for the nerves and blood vessels that run through the dermis.
Skin is a vital part of general health
The skin is vital to the production of vitamin D which it produces from the sun’s UVB rays. The body uses vitamin D to control calcium levels ensuring strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is vital to the good health of all the body’s cells, keeping them genetically on track and preventing cancer.
Skincare products are not all created equal and will not all penetrate the skin to the same degree. How much is absorbed by the skin will depend on the many characteristics of the product as well as the skin itself. The quality of the ingredients, the size and solubility of the molecules and the general formulation of the product are important determinants of how well it will absorb into the skin. The general condition of the skin can also affect absorbency.
When we understand the basics of how these products and our skin interacts, we can make the most effective use of the products, ensuring that we have soft, protective and vibrant skin that shines with good health