The Skinny on Skin

Elite Aesthetics asks: “Did you know that the largest organ of the body is your skin?”

Yes, it’s true! On average, adult skin weighs 8 pounds and spans 22 square feet. It also serves a much larger purpose than just adding to our appearance.


Your Skin is Your Shield


Skin is the body’s natural protectant against extreme temperatures (both hot and cold) and also protects us from microbes and bacteria. It keeps us safe from damaging sun exposure and from chemicals that can harm us.


Layers of Protection


Our skin is composed of multiple layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the deeper subcutaneous tissue.


Skin Layer #1 – Epidermis


The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. Most of the cells within your epidermis work to create new skin cells. The epidermis is also where our skin color is created by special cells called melanocytes, which produce the pigment melanin. The darker your skin, the more melanin you have. Melanin is also activated with sun exposure to protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.


The epidermis also nurtures Langerhans cells, which are defensive cells that alert the body’s immune system to viruses and other infectious mediums. It’s important to protect the epidermis to prevent skin cancer as you age by wearing sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher.




Skin Layer #2 – Dermis


Located below the epidermis, the dermis contains tough connective tissue, sweat glands, and our hair follicles. It actually gives our skin its strength and flexibility from its fibers of collagen and elastin.


The dermis is also the layer which helps monitor our body temperature through constricting blood flow (keeping our body warm) or increasing blood flow which allows heat to escape (keeping our body cool). Moreover, this layer of skin is composed of several nerves which help us feel the greater world and keep our brain in sync with what we touch.


Skin Layer #3 – Subcutaneous


The subcutaneous layer is the undermost layer of our skin composition. It contains fat and connective tissue which help keep body temperature insulated and allow for shock absorption when bumping into things.


This layer is where hair follicles first begin with roots and continue through the dermis. These follicles are dependent upon your sebaceous glands to bring it shine from the oil found in sebum. This lightly coats the hair, giving it protection and even some waterproofing.


Keep Your Skin Healthy

As we age, our skin loses the ability to retain moisture making it less soft and supple over time resulting in wrinkles and fine lines. Environmental factors such as sun exposure, air pollution, toxins from smoking, and windy and cold weather can accelerate the aging of your skin. It’s important to keep these things in mind for maintaining healthy skin because, as explained above, healthy skin contributes to a healthy you.



American Academy of Dermatology

National Geographic Science: Skin

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