Did you ever wonder what protects us from being injured, regulates our body temperature and is able to “transport” emotions all alike? Our skin is one of the biggest miracles I know and the more I learn about it, the more it fascinates me. In order for you to understand your skin and it’s needs better, I’d like to take you on a quick journey to skin anatomy.
Our skin consists of two main layers. The top one is called “epidermis” and the one below is simply called “dermis”.
As the word, “epidermis” already indicates it describes the outer (epi) skin (dermis) layer. It is often referred to as “skin barrier” in the cosmetic environment.
The epidermis is a waterproof protector, that also shields us from infections. It is divided into five sublayers and consists mainly of keratinocytes, melanocytes, Langerhans cells and Merkel cells. The keratinocytes are essential cells for the skin barrier properties. They spend their complete life cycle within the epidermis. This means that they are formed there and that they die a programmed death after several weeks of working their way up through the five sublayers. This process is called cornification or keratinization. When the keratinocytes have died they take their order in the outermost layer: the stratum corneum. There they wait to be shed, which usually occurs naturally. But when we treat ourselves with a peeling, we remove the outermost layer of dead and sometimes dull skin cells. The fresher and younger cells appear from underneath, which gives our skin a new glow and helps to reduce clogged pores.
If our skin is dry, the natural skin barrier can’t do its work properly. This is because in dry skin the keratinocytes are not “glued” together as tightly as they are supposed to be. The “glue” consists of lipids, who also help to reduce water loss. Through these unwanted spaces between the cells, possible irritants or bad microorganisms can enter and we lose much too much moisture our skin would actually need to stay healthy and young.
The dermis is connected tightly to the base layer of the epidermis and consists of two main layers. It protects our body from physical impacts through the collagenous and elastic fibers. Within this layer of the skin, we find many nerve endings, hair follicles, sebaceous glands (produce sebum) and sweat glands. While the epidermis is responsible to retain the moisture, the dermis is the one “building” it in the first place through producing water-binding hyaluronic acids. You’ll find the biggest amount of hyaluronic acids we have in our body in the dermis. When elasticity decreases with age (skin aging), it is this skin layer we want to target.
Follow the “Magic Shield” posts on Schön Erklärt for more insights into skin anatomy!
If you want to learn more about our skin, also consider dropping by at this blog!