The skin’s structure.
I talk a lot about why plant oils are so good for, and work so well with your skin. I’d like to talk a little bit about skin itself, and the skin’s structure. I think our skin is miraculous. It’s an absolutely brilliant multi-tasker. It’s our first line of defence against the world. It protects us from bacteria and viruses. It repairs wounds. It regulates our body temperature and helps to keep us warm or to cool off. It’s super-sensitive to sensation and is essential to our overall health and well being. It also plays a huge part in how we look and feel. Healthy, glowing, strong skin is a big part of our self-esteem. It’s one of the first things people notice about us.
Our skin’s structure is made up of three main layers – the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis, each of which has several sub-layers.
The Epidermis – This is composed of five layers, beginning with the basal layer. The epidermis works to destroy harmful bacteria, to make lipids, to help the skin shed dead cells and to repair itself when damaged. The top layer is called the stratum corneum. It contains sweat gland pores and also the openings of the sebaceous glands. The cells in this layer are bound together by lipids. The lipids create a protective barrier and bind in moisture. If these become compromised, skin can become dry, flaky, tight and rough. The epidermis has a protective layer made from an emulsion of water and lipids. This helps to keep the skin supple. The water part of this film is known as the skin’s acid mantle. The acid mantle is the ideal environment for the skin’s microbiome, which is the skin’s own eco-system of skin-friendly micro-organisms. Flourishing skin flora are crucial for happy, healthy skin.
The Dermis – This is the middle layer of the skin and is made up of two sub layers. These are made up of collagen and elastin, which are connective tissues. They give the skin strength and flexibility and are what makes skin young and healthy looking.The dermis contains naturally produced hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid helps to grab onto hydration when we apply moisturisers and it also helps to maintain the volume and fullness of our skin. The dermis works to protect the body from external irritants and influences and well as feeding the layers of the epidermis. Its thick, firm texture cushions us against damage, and when the skin is broken it contains connective tissues which help to heal wounds. It’s rich in blood vessels and helps to nourish the epidermis while removing waste. It contains the sebaceous glands – which deliver sebum to the surface of the skin – and the sweat glands which take water and lactic acid there. The dermis also contains lymph vessels, sensory receptors and hair roots.
The Hypodermis – The innermost layer of our skin stores energy. It is mostly composed of fat cells, blood vessels and special collagen fibres.
Healthy, resilient skin is smooth, supple, well-hydrated and even in colour.
When its protective function is compromised, it loses moisture and elasticity and can become dry and cracked or lose firmness. It can become increasingly sensitive to external influences such as temperature change and allergens. Compromised skin can become inflamed as immune cells move in to try and repair the skin’s barrier.
Lifestyle and external factors like the sun have an impact on the skin. As we age we produce less collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. Skin becomes less toned and wrinkles appear. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, it thickens to protect itself and hyperpigmentation can occur. Too much sun exposure accelerates skin ageing.
Taking care of our skin structure is more than just vanity. It is our interface with the world, and keeping it happy, healthy and supple is crucial. That’s why I’m so passionate about cleansing and nourishing with pure plant oils which work naturally with the skin’s complex eco-system to properly care for it. I’ve written in other blogs here and here about why plant oils work so beautifully with our skin. If you haven’t yet tried a plant oil based skincare routine, please do.
Treat your skin with respect and love. It’s got you covered.
Love, Arabella. x