Good skin care builds your defenses against infection and makes sure that new layer of skin that’s about to emerge is as healthy and protective as the one before it.
Your skin is your largest organ and your first line of defense against infections and toxins.
It often mirrors the state of your overall health, and putting a focus on keeping it in shape can inspire you to give the same loving attention to the rest of your body.
Your skin health has a huge effect on your overall appearance, and smooth, glowing skin can be a huge boost to your self-confidence. But as most know, there’s more to it than what you and everyone else can see.
There are two more layers below the surface, all packed into one layer that’s anywhere from 0.5 millimeters to 4 millimeters thick. Each of these serves important functions:
The outermost layer is (relatively) tough and protective of the rest of your body from invasive microorganisms and the sun’s UV rays, though you’re still going to need some sunscreen!
Its thickness ranges from 0.05 to 1.5 millimeters but has five distinct layers of its own. The deepest is the stratum basale, where cells are constantly dividing and pushing up toward the surface. It also contains melanocytes, which protect against UV rays and help determine skin tone.
These skin cells progress toward the surface through epidermic areas that provide strength, flexibility and proteins before reaching the top layer, the stratum corneum, and are shed into the environment.
This is the skin’s widest layer, and it has many important jobs. Its blood vessels bring important nutrients to the skin as well as immune cells to fight off infections. This is where you also find the nerve endings that send your brain signals about touch, pain, heat, cold, touch, itching and other sensations, as well as sebaceous glands that secrete oil to keep your skin moist and protect against foreign substances.
Collagen, the all-important protein that forms connective tissues throughout our bodies, is present here as well, making up most of this layer. Your hair follicles and sweat ducts are also rooted here, with hair usually more abundant in thinner areas of your skin.
Hypodermis (subcutaneous layer)
This is a layer consisting mostly of fat and blood vessels that helps regulate body temperature and protect internal organs, bones and muscles against traumatic injuries.
This is also the layer of stored fat the body turns to in times of deprivation for additional stores of energy for brain and other functions. These stores of fat are vital to human health but having excess amounts has been linked to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other illnesses.
Our skin is a complex organ that performs many functions. It’s also the one that’s most accessible to us, and we all know the value of preventive care in heading off problems down the road.