how skin works & why it’s important
Did you know that skin accounts for a huge 16% of your total body weight and can have a surface area of 18,000 sq cm – it is in fact our largest human organ.
Purity London believes that keeping your skin healthy is vital, not for just beauty reasons but to help it to continue to function well – and it has some very important jobs to do.
Skin maintains the temperature of your body as it senses heat, cold, contact and pain. Skin expels waste matter through your sweat and it maintains your water balance in bodily fluids. It protects you from dirt, microbes and chemicals and the elements.
If we look at the structure of your skin in more detail we can show you how it functions and why it’s important to use natural and organic skincare products, such as Purity Organic Skincare to support and enhance these functions.
There are three layers of skin, the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis (fat layer). Each layer performs specific tasks and each layer contains cells, which are responsible for all the important tasks we mentioned earlier – maintaining temperature, sensing environmental changes, excreting and generally protecting you.
Now for the science bit – we will try to make it more interesting than your last Biology class!
The epidermis: the outer layer.
The epidermis protects the dermis, which is where most of the really important processes occur. The epidermis has 5 layers, the lower-most (closest to the dermis and living cells) is the basal layer. New basal cells called keratinocytes are continually reproducing. Once produced, they slowly migrate to the surface over a three week period until they stiffen-up and form the protective 5th layer. Then they are called the stratum corneum and are eventually shed. In certain areas which need more protection, like the hands and feet, the keratinocytes are very thick.
The epidermis is what we see and what we associate beauty with. Ironically these are the layer of dead keratinocytes that the body is ridding itself of. We spend our lives trying to make dead cells look healthy and youthful!
The lower basal layer is not only a hothouse of skin cell reproduction but is also protective in a different way as it protects against harmful UV rays. It is full of cells called melanocytes which produce melanin and this produces skin pigment which contributes to skin colour but functionally filters out UV rays. Throughout the whole epidermis there are Langerhans cells which play a roll in detecting and dislodging foreign substances, thereby protecting against infection and allergies. Purity London believes that keeping the epidermis balanced and beautiful is key to having a healthy, happy life. We believe that putting nasties on the epidermis just simply can’t be good for the epidermis and at the very least can disrupt its functionality and that’s why we don’t and we encourage you to do the same.
The dermis: the middle layer,
The dermis is full of living cells and this is where most of the activity occurs. Most cosmetics and skincare products do not penetrate through the epidermis to the dermis. Purity London believes that if the epidermis is functioning well, then it protects the dermis allowing it to function well. If your epidermis is full of chemical nasties then the dermis could become vulnerable and may not function well, opening you up to potential health problems. Taking a closer look at the dermis we can understand how this could happen. The dermis has various different cells – subcutaneous insulation cells, blood vessels/capillaries, sweat glands, collagen fibres, erector muscles, and hair follicles. These cells form a thick layer of fibrous and elastic tissue made mostly of collagen, elastin and fibrillin which gives skin its flexibility and strength.
These cells have specific functions:
- Nerve endings sense pain, touch, pressure and temperature.
- Sweat glands produce sweat in response to heat and stress, the sweat is composed of water, salt and waste, and as it evaporates off the skin, it helps cool the body and rids the body of toxins and waste matter.
- Sebaceous glands secrete sebum into hair follicles. Sebum is oil and keeps the skin moist and soft and is also a barrier to foreign particles.
- Hair follicles help temperature regulation by trapping air i.e. when your hair stands on end if you are cold it allows air to become trapped at the follicles which helps form a layer of insulation.
- Blood vessels provide nutrients to the skin and regulate your body temperature through their expansion and constriction either releasing or retaining heat.
The hypodermis / subcutis / fat layer: the lower layer.
The fat layer is a protective layer of insulation which cushions muscles, bones and inner organs against shocks, and at the same time acts as an insulator and source of heat. It contains “lipocytes,” which produce lipids for the subcutaneous tissue to actually make the fat layer. There are fat cells contained within every living cell held together by fibrous tissue, these are called mitochondria and are powerhouse cells. The fat cells are produced, used for insulation and then can be broken down by the mitochondria to provide heat. Who said all fat was bad!
Although Purity London doesn’t affect either the dermis or the hypodermis, it is important to understand that keeping your epidermis healthy is crucial for the dermis and hypodermis to function optimally and keep you in top form!