Skin Structure 101

You may already know that the skin is the largest organ of the body. And as the most exposed organ, this means that the skin takes a lot of external damage. From UV radiation to pollution, from dryness to harmful chemicals, your skin protects you. Your skin has three separate layers to protect your muscles, tissues, and other organs from outside damage.

Epidermis

The elastic outside layer that is constantly regenerated via your skin cells. This is the thinnest layer of your skin, although it can vary in thickness (eyelids vs. the bottoms of your feet). The life cycle of an epidermis skin cells follows a set pattern and is made up of the following cells:
• Keratinocytes – These cells make up the bulk of the epidermis. They are continually being regenerated and moving towards the surface of the skin where they flatten and die off.
• Corneocytes – As the keratinocytes die off, they become corneocytes. They make up the outer layer of the epidermis. And even though they’re dead, they protect the rest of your skin. This layer is continually shed.
• Melanocytes – Like the name refers, these cells produce melanin that protects the skin against UV radiation. Also, they give skin color.

Dermis

Right underneath the epidermis is the dermis layer. There’s a lot going on in this layer of skin, so that’s also why it tends to be the thickest layer. As the busiest skin layer, it is responsible for:
• Making sweat – Your sweat glands are like little pockets within the dermis layer, which are released through your pores. They regulate temperature and release toxins.
• Making oil – Similar to the sweat glands, these oil glands are like little pockets in the dermis. Also known as sebum, the oil helps to protect your skin and hair from dust and bacteria.
• Growing hair – Also within the dermis are your hair follicles. The oil glands and hair follicles are closely linked. This area also provides goosebumps.
• Feeling things – If you know what it’s like to pull a hair from your skin, you know the pain. The dermis contains nerve endings that make you feel physical pain, as well as itchiness and pleasure.

Subcutaneous Fat

This layer mostly connects your dermis to muscles, bones, and ligaments. It is the fatty layer that provides insulation and protection for your body. The subcutaneous layer works to:
Guide blood vessels and nerve cells – The subcutaneous layer is the passageway between the dermis and the rest of your body for vessels and nerves.
Control body temperature – As a fatty layer, it provides protection from cold, but also works as a cooling mechanism for hot temperatures. And in turn, tells the dermis to produce sweat.
Store fat and connective tissue – The connective tissue known as fascia binds all of your other tissues together. Also there are fat pads within this layer that protect your body from falls, bumps, and bruises.

How Does The Skin Structure Age?

These layers form your skin structure, and they also determine the look and health of your skin. In fact, these layers are mostly comprised of water and protein. And as you age, the protein breaks down and protein production slows down. In turn, this leads to a process called transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Basically your skin is unable to retain moisture, so creases and cracks begin to form. Using an anti-aging skin care product can dramatically slow down the aging process, and maybe even reverse some aging signs. And it can provide much needed moisture and nutrients as well.

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