Did you know that the skin is the body’s largest and fastest-growing organ? Keeping your skin healthy is important so it looks great, but also because your skin supports many of the major wellbeing & health functions of your body. To name a few basic functions: it protects you by keeping pathogens and other harmful agents out, it helps you to eliminate toxins, it regulates your body temperature, and it allows us to sense the world through nerve endings. Other extraordinary functions of healthy skin continue to emerge today…
To understand how to keep your skin healthy, it may help to learn a little bit more about the skin’s structure. The skin is composed of three basic layers that are home to a variety of components that are crucial for the skin’s structure and functions: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis.
The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin, with five layers of its own. It is a waterproof barrier that protects the body from the external environment. The epidermis hosts different types of cells, such as melanocytes and keratinocytes.
Because of the presence of melanocytes, which are cells that produce a pigment called “melanin”, the epidermis gives the skin its color. Melanocytes protect the skin from UV-rays. Keratinocytes, which are the most common type of cells within the epidermis, produce a protein called “keratin”. Keratin makes up hair, nails, and the surface layer of the skin. This protein forms the rigidity of your skin and helps with the barrier protection that your skin offers.
The middle layer is called the dermis and is the layer that gives your skin its fullness and plumpness. It contains connective tissue, hair follicles, oil glands and sweat glands. It houses blood vessels and lymphatic vessels and is home to several receptors that detect heat (thermoreceptors), pain (nociceptors) and pressure (mechanoreceptors). The main roles of this layer are to give the skin strength and elasticity, to grow hair, to make sweat and oil and to provide blood and sensation to the skin.
The cells you can find in the dermis are called fibroblasts. These cells synthesize collagen and elastin, which are two proteins that are crucial for the skin’s structure.
Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the skin and provides strength to the skin. Elastin is the elastic component of the skin and gives your skin (and other organs) the ability to go back to their original form after being stretched. Together, collagen and elastin are responsible for warding off wrinkles and fine lines.
The deepest layer of the skin, the hypodermis or the subcutis, is the subcutaneous tissue. It is made up of fat and connective tissue. This layer is responsible for conserving your body’s heat, helps attach the skin to the bones and muscles thereby protecting your vital inner organs.
We know from experience that many people only focus on the skin once there is a perceived problem or an abnormality but trust us when we say a basic regime is needed to help keep your skin healthy.
Explore the Nourished collection of natural skin care options to support healthy & glowy skin.
This article was written by guest contributor Dr Coco Dekkers. Coco lives in Amsterdam and is a PhD medicine - dermatology student.
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