If you could describe an ideal state for your skin – what would you say? Luminous, clear, radiant, healthy? Beauty doesn’t start and end with skin – but when our skin looks and feels refreshed, we feel refreshed. And when we’re confident in our skin, our inner confidence radiates through.
That may explain why the global skincare market is estimated to reach $189.3 billion by 2025. As an industry, the channels are muddied with overwhelming supplies of high-priced sunscreens, anti-aging creams, and a host of other products and regimes boasting the ability to protect and preserve the largest organ of the body.
But truly radiant and healthy skin is not transformed or artificially altered – it is supplemented and protected, ideally with gentle, skin-first formulas that enhance skin’s natural processes. So before jumping to invest in a shelf full of high-end cosmetics – acquiring a fundamental knowledge of skin’s anatomy can help you seek out the products that are best suited for your skin, its processes, and its needs.
To begin, we must know there are three layers to the skin: the Epidermis, Dermis, and Hypodermis.
The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin, responsible for showcasing your skin tone and complexion. Along with providing a waterproof barrier, this layer is the body’s first line of defense against viruses, bacteria, and other environmental factors constantly challenging our skin health.
The epidermis is subject to both genetics and external factors that can influence the aging of the skin - alcohol consumption, smoking, and excessive UV or sunlight exposure. These all result in the development of sunspots, wrinkles, and uneven thinning or thickening of skin’s texture.
The Primary Functions
- Epidermis makes new skin cells, beginning at the bottom of the layer. The skin cells gradually migrate to the top layer before flaking away, nearly a month after they form.
- This layer produces melanin, which gives the skin its color profile.
- Epidermis is your body’s fiercest protector. It holds specialized cells that are an integral part of the immune system and contribute to keeping you healthy.
The foundational building block of managing epidermis health is simply taking good care of it. Looking after this elemental layer of skin doesn’t call for it to be a challenge.
- Wash your skin regularly to remove excess oil, dead skin, and harmful bacteria that can block pores and cause skin to break down.
- Wash your skin after activities that cause you to sweat. Exercise is great for our health and wellbeing, just make sure it doesn’t have the adverse effect on skin.
- Opt for mild products to use on your skin. Harsher products full of unnecessary chemicals can negate skin health and result in roughness, damage and dryness.
The dermis... where the magic happens. This is the layer responsible for keeping your skin smooth, supple, feather-light, and firm.
Resting right below the epidermis, it contains tough connective tissue, sweat glands, and hair follicles. Elastin and collagen make up the majority of the dermis, along with fibroblasts, making it the sanctuary where your skin gains its plumpness, elasticity, and shine.
The Primary Functions
- Small pockets - sweat glands - help in producing sweat in order to help cool the body and eliminate toxins.
- The nerve endings in the dermis allow you to feel physical sensations on the skin.
- The Dermis is home to your hair root. Each of these roots attaches to a little muscle that can contract and constrict - the process that gives you the ‘goosebump’ sensation.
- Produces oil that keeps your skin smooth, soft, and waterproof.
The final layer, the hypodermis - or subcutaneous fat layer - is comprised mainly of fat and connective tissue. These fatty tissues insulate the body from shock and cold, while cells store essential nutrients and energy. As time goes on, the hypodermis starts to decrease, which can contribute to the thinning of skin as it ages.
Functions of Hypodermis
- This layer binds the dermis to your muscles and bones.
- The Hypodermis regulates your body temperature and prevents the body from becoming too warm or too cold.
- Provides a delicate fatty padding for your bones and muscles to protect them from physical traumas like falls, bumps, bruises and scrapes.
Understanding how your skin works is your best resource for determining how to best preserve, protect, and revitalize it. By giving care to your topical layer, you ensure your skin remains healthy and provides your body with long-lasting protection. Maintaining the health of skin’s innermost layers can be accomplished through careful product selection, reliance on plant-based formulas that support our skin’s natural processes, and essentials like hydration. Skin hydration is a key component to skin health and longevity, so prioritizing it ensures better skin, and a better you.
Cosmo Truth. Skin Anatomy 101. https://cosmotruth.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/skin-anatomy-101/
Healthline. The Epidermis: Get to Know Your Skin. https://www.healthline.com/health/epidermis-function#skin-care
Brannon, Heather L. Understanding the Epidermis. Very Well Health. 2020. https://www.verywellhealth.com/anatomy-of-epidermis-1068881
Pai, Deanna. Skin Care 101: The Layers and Functions of Skin. https://www.dermstore.com/blog/layers-and-functions-of-skin/
American Academy of Dermatology Association. What Kids Should Know About Their Layers of Skin.https://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/the-layers-of-your-skin