Basic Skin Knowledge

Basic Skin Structure

The skin is the largest body organ, with a surface of around 2 metres squared and is about 17% of the total body weight for an adult person.

The skin is an elastic tissue that is 1- 4 mm thick and its main objective is protecting the body against dehydration and daily, external impact. For optimum protection the skin must stay healthy.

The 3 layers of your skin

Top Layer of skin is the Epidermis:

The epidermis is composed of 5 layers with the top most layer of being dead cells that are being constantly released from the surface.

The main protection barrier is found here, preventing micro organisms from invading the body and water from evaporating (the reason why your skin will not dry out).

The epidermis produces melanin, which provided protection against the UV radiation of the sun.

The Middle layer is the Dermis:

The dermis is the layer of skin with its strong and elastic properties.

The dermis is composed of various individual tissue e.g. hair follicles, sweat glands, sebaceous glands and nerve cells that provide the sense of touch, cool, heat and pain.

Additional dermis components are collagen and elastin which provide strength and elasticity to the skin and water binding molecules.

The underlying Layer is the Subcutaneous Layer:

The subcutaneous layer of the skin is made up of water, blood and fat deposits. The fat or lipid layer provides insulation, energy storage and protection against pressures.

How Skin Functions

Skin is technically the largest organ of the body and has 7 main functions.

These functions are

  1. The main function of skin is to provide Protection from various damaging conditions
    • protection from ultraviolet(UV) radiation or sun damage
    • protection from dehydration – production of sebum (oil) by the sebaceous glands
    • protection from micro-organisms – bacteria, virus or fungal invasion
    • protection from mechanical trauma or physical injuries
  2. Sensation or feeling things - Pressure or touch, heat or cold, or pain
  3. Temperature Regulation
    • Body Temperature control with the release of sweat to cool or the raising of fine hairs as “goose bumps” to retain heat.
    • Regulation of blood flow to extremities (limbs) and skin to either cool or heat the body.
  4. Immunity – the destruction of micro-organisms and interaction of skin with the body’s immune system
  5. Movement and growthof skin permits the body and body tissues to move and grow and skin allow for the adaptation of areas of the body during movement
    • The elastic properties of skin and underlying tissues.
    • The recoil properties of skin and underlying tissues.
  6. Excretion of water, urea, ammonia and uric acid – waste products released from the body via the surface of the skin, regulated by the volume and composition of sweat
  7. Synthesis of Vitamin D – a vital vitamin required to keep bone tissue strong and robust to withstand daily movement

Together with the transmission of sweat to the skin surface, the oil (lipid) content of the skin provides a biological seal for the protection of the skin. Therefore, in normal circumstances, the skin is capable of protecting itself. The 1-4 mm layer protecting your body against external, daily impact is really not a lot considering the exposure to changing weather and temperature conditions, water, soap, work, clothes, activities and sun-light etc.

The skin is therefore the body’s first line of defense from all manner of attack, hence, the natural defense of the skin is gradually deteriorated with every instance of exposure to weather, wind, air pollution, heat, cold, sun light, washing, makeup, activities, impact and injuries, bacterial, fungal or viral attack.

When things go wrong

An imbalance is created when the skin is exposed to these damaging “attackers” and the skin tries to repair and restore itself. Any lack of balance may trigger skin issues, which will appear as dry, rough, red, swollen, injured skin – which can lead to serious skin damage and scarring.

Every person’s skin is different and its vulnerability to damage may vary according to many factors, thus the frequency of protective use of skincare products varies too.

Therefore, there are different skin ranges for different skin types and skin conditions.

Appropriate skin hygiene and correct daily use of skin care products help

  • prevent skin disease or skin conditions,
  • keep your skin healthy,
  • help establish optimum barriers against skin damage from drying out the surface,
  • keep the skin smooth
  • Re-establish natural skin protection properties.

Your skin’s primary protection barrier is the Acid Mantle – a layer of water and oil produced by the sebaceous glands and sweat glands that create an ACIDIC Natural Moisturising substance found covering your skin - SEBUM. When your skin is compromised by harmful activities or substances your Acid Mantle can also be compromised. You can help re-establish your acid mantle by using a basic skin care routine to rebuild oil and water content in and around skin cells that can then repel harmful bacteria, stop skin drying out or pores clogging up.

Most skin care is based on the natural sebum found on your skin. So moisturisers, cleansers, toners, creams, serums and lotions are all based on a mixture of oil, water and some form of slight acid and it is the formulation of these products that try to replicate sebum or your skins naturally produced skin care!

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