Understanding the Layers of Skin and How to Care for Them
As we continue on our skincare journey, we must understand the multiple layers of our skin. Our skin is our largest organ and makes up 15 percent of our weight yet, most of us go through life without ever knowing what our skin really needs. We hear how important it is to drink water but not what really matters. Well, all of that is about to change today as we learn about the layers of your skins, the functions, and what our skin actually needs.
Table of Contents
- The epidermis is the top layer of the skin, which acts as a barrier
- The dermis is the second layer, home to your hair roots, sweat glands, nerves, blood vessels, collagen, elastin, and oil glands
- The innermost layer is the hypodermis, which insulates for your body, keeping you warm
What Does Our Skin Do?
Before we get into the layers of skin, we must learn the basics about our skin.
Your skin comprises a large portion of the integumentary system. This organ system also contains hair, nails, and glands that produce sweat and oil. The three main functions of the integumentary system are protection, regulation, and sensation. The main purpose of our skin is to act as a barrier. It provides a barrier between your body’s essential organs, muscles, tissues, and skeletal system, and the outside world.
Our skin is meant to protect us from a plethora of environmental factors. These factors include bacteria, chemicals, and the sun. Your skin is actually where the body uses sunlight to create vitamin D. The blood vessels in the skins also help manage and balance your body temperature. Your skin also feels sensation, communicating with your brain what is going on around you. Your skin could not perform the functions that keep you alive without the protection of your skin.
The epidermis is the top layer of your skin. It’s made up of millions of skin cells held together by lipids. This creates a resilient barrier and regulates the amount of water released from your body.
Your epidermis is constantly shedding dead skin cells from the top layer and replacing them with new healthy cells that grow in lower layers. It is also home to your pores, which allow oil and sweat to escape.
There are conditions that start in the epidermis layer of your skin. These conditions can be caused by allergies, irritations, genetics, bacteria, or autoimmune reactions. Some of them are:
As much as our skin is meant to protect us we also must do what is necessary to protect our skin. While some skin conditions can be genetic, we can also take the necessary precautions to protect the outermost layer with sunscreen. The cells found in this layer are constantly producing keratinocytes, which play an important role in the formation of Vitamin D with exposure to sunlight.
Keratinocytes also produce protein, keratin, and lipids; these act as a protective barrier. While our skin makes vitamin D, we must make sure we spend enough time in the sun to boost our vitamin D intake.
This is one of the best ways we can take care of our epidermis. Vitamin D helps skin cell growth, repair, and metabolism. It increases the skin's immune system to destroy free radicals that can cause premature aging. Research also shows that an adequate amount of vitamin D can decrease certain skin conditions like psoriasis.
While making sure we get enough sunlight for our skin, it is also important we must use SPF. SPF also known as sunscreen, stands for sun protection factor. It protects against harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) rays that can damage the skin. Many people believe that sunscreen does not really do anything, however, we underestimate the power of the sun. Ultraviolet rays can hurt your skin in as little as 15 minutes.
The next layer underneath the epidermis is the dermis. The epidermis is the visible layer of your skin while the dermis lies directly below and really helps to keep your body protected. Out of the 3 layers of your skin, your dermis contains your hair roots, sweat glands, nerves, and blood vessels that keep your body temperature regulated and helps your body remove waste. The dermis also contains collagen, elastin, and oil glands that keep your skin looking soft and smooth while supporting the structure of your skin.
Some conditions that can start in the dermis include:
- Skin infections
A great way to maintain the collagen in your skin as well as keep the oils in the skin balanced in making sure to develop a skincare routine that works for your skin type. If your skin is oily, washing your face at least twice a day and avoiding oil-based makeup will keep your skin from over-producing oil. Many people with oily skin think that just because their skin is oily they don’t have to moisturize and I am here to tell you that is not the case. Moisturizing daily with an oil-free moisturizer and not touching your face throughout the day will keep the oil in your skin balanced and keep bacteria and dirt that may be on your hands from transferring onto your face.
Where Do Breakouts vs Scarring Come From?
Breakouts oftentimes develop when oil glands become clogged and infected, leading to swollen, red lesions filled with pus. Breakouts range from blackheads to cysts, despite there not being enough evidence that certain foods cause acne; a healthy diet can reduce the risk. No matter how tempting, we must refrain from popping our own pimples, the safest way to get rid of pimples is through an esthetician.
When we pop our own pimples we can cause scarring, making our acne worse and leaving dark spots on our face. Forcing the bacteria out can allow the dirt on your finger to make the pimple more inflamed and the breakout can spread and cause more acne. If you are popping multiple pimples that can lead to multiple dark spots that can take up to years to fade away, even longer if you forgo sunscreen.
3. Hypodermis or Subcutaneous Tissue
The third innermost layer is the subcutaneous tissue also known as the hypodermis. This layer of skin beneath the dermis insulates for your body, keeping you warm. It also provides a cushion that surrounds your vital organs, it also contains blood vessels. This is the layer that attaches your skin to the muscles and tissue below it. This layer can be thicker in some parts of your body than others and this is mostly determined to based determined by genetics.
Although it looks like our skin and body do most of the hard work for us, there are always going to be things we can implement to improve it. Having a basic skincare routine, making sure we wash our hands before touching our skin, using a sunscreen every day, or even taking supplements. Taking supplements to boosts your collagen, elastin, and keratin all keep your skin healthy, strong, and glowy.
Written by Ananda York