As the coating and overlay to our internal organs, skin performs the vital role of keeping out harmful elements, aiding in temperature regulation, providing sensation and protection against water loss.
Made up of three primary layers epidermis, dermis and hypodermis, each level contains integral components with specific relationships to one another which perform key functions for structural maintenance:
The epidermis, the outermost and visible layer of skin, performs a barrier function locking in moisture, locking out pathogens, and contains pigmentation such as melanocytes that are responsible for our skin tone and which absorb some uv radiation. The epidermis contains a structural network of keratin, making this outer layer of the skin virtually waterproof, and together with collagen and elastin, gives skin its strength.
The dermis, lies underneath the epidermis, and houses tough connective tissue, sweat glands and the sebaceous glands which secrete sebum (the body's natural oil) into the hair follicles to lubricate the skin and hair. Maintaining balance and the disruption-free performance of the sebaceous glands, are a key part of keeping skin healthy and avoiding conditions which can lead to build up, congestion and outbreaks such as dandruff and acne.
The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) contains 50% of body fat and is made up of loose connective tissue, adipose tissue and elastin.
Lying underneath the dermis it provides padding and insulation for the body and attaches the skin to underlying bone and muscle.
The hypodermis contains many elements including fibroblasts and hair follicles, as well as delivering the supply of blood vessels and nerves.
Keratin provides the rigidity of your skin. It is the strongest protein in our skin and a primary component of hair and nails.
Keratin plays a vital role in the life cycle of a cell. As cells in the epidermis move up the various layers inside the epidermis changing shape and composition they become filled with keratin. When they eventually reach the top layer called stratum corneum they are sloughed off as dead skin cells. The outermost layer of the epidermis consists of 25 to 30 layers of dead cells.
This process is called keratinization and takes place within weeks.
When the balance of this process is affected it can result in various disorders such as rashes, dandruff and support the development of conditions such as athlete's foot and ringworm whose fungi feed on keratin.
The gentle support to removing dead skin cells is therefore a desirable goal in a healthy skin care regime.
Collagen is the key protein that makes up 75% of skin and wards off wrinkles and fine lines. With age, time and environmental factors the body's ability to produce collagen diminishes.
In striving to maintain a smooth and youthful complexion, creating an environment that supports and boosts the production of collagen becomes a key factor.
Found with collagen in the dermis and providing skin elasticity , the presence of the elastin protein serves to plump out skin and provide structure to organs, similar to collagen, the diminished production by the body of elastin over time results in the appearance of sagging and wrinkles in the complexion.