The Structure and Functions of the Skin

SKINCARE

KNOWLEDGE IS BEAUTY

Skincare is all about knowing how to care for your skin.  The best way to know that is to understand how the skin functions, what type of skin you have as well as what your current skin condition is.  Once you know and understand these, you’re better able to choose a routine that suits your individual needs best.

Let’s start with The Structure and Functions of the Skin.

The skin is the largest organ of the body.  It is an elastic protective covering, which is thinnest on the lips and eyelids, and thickest on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Structure of the skin: three major divisions

Epidermis

The outermost layer of the skin

Dermis

The inner corneum made up of connective tissue

Subcutaneous

The deep layer of adipose (fatty) tissue

EPIDERMIS

This is the outermost layer of the skin, which forms the protective covering of the body.  Squamous cells, or keratinocytes, are produced in the basal layer of the skin.  These cells then migrate up through the epidermis until they complete their life cycle in the dead stratum corneum.  The epidermis contains the following layers:

Basal layer – consists of keratinocytes that undergo cell division and are responsible for growth of the epidermis.  This layer also contains melanocytes that protect the cells from the UV rays of the sun.

Spinous layer – consists of multiple layers of square-shaped cells.  The desmosomes that hold the cells together have a spiny or prickle-like appearance when viewed under a microscope.  As cells move upward during natural cell turnover, they become more flat.  This layer also contains Langerhans cells that assist in the skin’s immune function.

Granular layer – consists of dying cells that contain distinct granules.

Clear layer – is a barrier composed of transparent cells through which light can pass.  These cells are only present in thick skin, such as the palm of the hands and soles of the feet.

Cornified layer – is composed of tightly packed dead cells which are constantly being shed and replaced.  This layer contains the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF) and is responsible for maintaining hydration of the cornified layer.  NMF exists inside the corneocytes (dead keratinocytes).

DERMIS

The dermis is the layer underneath the epidermis, consisting of highly sensitive and vascular connective tissue, collagen, elastin and reticular fibers.  

SUBCUTANEOUS LAYER

This is the fatty layer lying directly below the dermis, which is composed of fat cells, blood, nerves and lymph supply.  It gives smoothness and contours to the body, contains fat that is utilized by the body for energy and acts as a protective cushion for the outer skin.

Now that you have an idea of how the skin functions, read on to learn more about your Skin Type.

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