Skin physiology

January 6, 2009


Before we delve into the perfect products for your skin, we first must go over basic skin physiology.

Skin basics:

  • Layers of the skin and their components:


  1. Epidermis: The very top, protective layer of the skin. This is made up of several layers that help to protect the body.
  2. Dermis: The inner layer of skin that houses containing nerve endings, hair follicles, sweat glands,  sebum (oil), blood vessels, collagen and elastin, and the erector pili muscle, which helps to make hair stand up when you are cold or get goosebumps. Within this layer lies the sebaceous glands where oil is produced, the sweat glands, and most importantly our collagen and elastin (be sure to keep this section in the back of your brain when we discuss anti-aging products).
  3. Subcutaneous tissue: where fat tissue, arteries, and veins live.


  • How acne and clogged pores form:


In a healthy hair shaft, cells exfoliate at the ideal rate, sebum production is neither too much nor too little, and dirt and debris are easily cleansed away. In acne-prone skin, a few things can occur, resulting in breakouts. If cells are not naturally shed or sloughed off by exfoliation at an ideal rate, they can block the pore causing a “plug” (in skincare sometimes it’s referred to as a “waxy plug” because of the texture). Pair that with an oily skin, and oil gets trapped under the surface. These components of acne can not cause breakouts alone. The P. Acnes bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes),  which live on most of our skin, must be present. When are pore is blocked by dead skin cells, P. Acnes thrives by living on sebum and forms acne, causing inflammation. You can be dry and get acne, too, since drier skins tend to have dead skin cells blocking the pore as well.

  • Fine lines and wrinkles:


Collagen and elastin (see first diagram) are like little springs under our skin that help keep it cushy and bouncy. As we age, skin becomes thinner and less likely to bounce back because the amount of C & E can diminish over time. Diet, lifestyle, and health can attribute to the break down of both.

Aging and wrinkles are both genetic and environmental. If your family tends to age gracefully, chances are that if you live a healthy lifestyle, you will too! If your family ages gracefully and you smoke for, say, 50 years and throw back a few drinks each night while only getting 5 hours of sleep and tanning yourself to a golden brown in the sun or tanning bed, expect to need heavy duty wrinkle creams in the future. Some lucky people live extremely unhealthy and still age well. No fair, however, these people are often few and far between. Making sure you treat your body and skin with the respect it deserves will help ensure your odds of  looking gorgeous and glowing into the golden years.

Now that we have the basic over view of our skin physiology, and causes acne and aging, we can figure out our skin type! Stay tuned to determine what your type is!

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