How your skin works from the inside out
The skin is the body’s largest organ. But how much do you know about it? Knowing about how your skin works and the nutrients it needs allows you to age with grace. Here's the inside scoop on how your skin works — from the inside out.
Your skin's three layers
The skin is made up of a number of layers, but the deeper layers are not visible. While wrinkles and acne are common visible skin problems, they actually result from problems that occur below your skin's top layer. A cross-section of your skin reveals that it is made of three main layers: the hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis.
The epidermis is the skin layer that is visible. It covers your entire body. The epidermis comprises three separate layers, which are all comprised of millions of connecting tissues of different thicknesses woven together. The epidermis under your eyes is very thin; it’s thicker on your heel.
The epidermis acts as a barrier and is constantly being shed. Peppered with pores and shafts that contain hairs, it also holds melanin, which is what gives your skin its color or pigmentation to protect from the sun's UV rays.
The dermis is the hub of all operations in the skin. The dermis is tucked away between the epidermis and hypodermis. It is the layer that holds all the blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, collagen, and sweat glands. Capillaries supply nutrients to the skin and the nerves give our sense of touch, while tiny muscle fibers control the raising and lowering of hairs and goose pimples. The dermis is also responsible for catching, trapping, and dealing with any stray bacteria that has been able to get through the epidermis.
Temperature control is the main job of the hypodermis, which is the deepest layer of skin. This is because fatty deposits and collagen are found here. They insulate our bodies and make sure we stay warm. The hypodermis is also where connective tissues are found.
How skin ages
Skin aging can happen in the matrix between cells, within the dermis, or on the surface. It most commonly happens when collagen is damaged and loses its tight weave. Your elastin then loses its zing.
Intrinsic skin aging is the natural aging process that takes place over the years regardless of outside influences. After the age of 20, a person produces about one percent less collagen in the skin each year. As a result, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile with age. There is also diminished functioning of the sweat and oil glands, less elastin production, and less GAG formation. Wrinkle formation from intrinsic aging is inevitable. But it will always be slight.
Extrinsic skin aging occurs in addition to intrinsic skin aging. It results from the sun and environmental damage, such as tobacco use, sun exposure, and exposure to pollution. Extrinsic aging shows up as precancerous lesions, skin cancer, freckles, and sunspots, as well as exaggerated loss of collagen, elastin, and GAGs. Alone or in concert, these processes give the skin appearance of roughness, uneven tone, brown patches, thin skin, and deep wrinkles.
The proper care and feeding of your skin
What’s the best way to care for your skin? Ensuring that it gets plenty of nutrients! Some important vitamins for your skin include:
• Vitamins C and E
These vitamins help by reducing the damage caused by free radicals, a harmful byproduct of sunlight, smoke, and pollution. Free radicals destroy collagen and elastin, the fibers that support skin structure, causing wrinkles and other signs of aging. Foods rich in vitamin C include cauliflower, citrus, broccoli, and bell peppers. Almonds and avocados are full of vitamin E.
• Vitamin A
This vitamin is necessary for the maintenance and repair of skin tissue. Topical vitamin A is the form that makes a real difference in your skin, which reduces lines and wrinkles, good acne control, and some psoriasis relief. Natural sources include liver, butter, and eggs.
Otherwise known as vitamin B7, biotin forms the basis of skin, nail, and hair cells. Biotin helps in the release of essential biochemical energy required during aerobic respiration and facilitates carbon dioxide transfer. Biotin is found in many foods, including bananas, eggs, oatmeal, and rice.
Together with vitamin C and zinc, manganese helps to develop elastin, the fibers that support skin structure from beneath. Manganese is a required co-factor for an enzyme called prolidase, which is in turn necessary to make collagen as a structural component of skin.
• Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
If you're not getting enough EFAs in your diet, your skin may be dry, inflamed, and prone to whiteheads and blackheads. They're crucial to the production of the skin’s natural oil barrier.
In addition to ensuring your skin is getting the nutrients it needs to maintain its health, you should also consider non-invasive skin treatments, like Clear + Brilliant, which rejuvenate your skin from the inside out. It can improve skin texture and tone, reverse early signs of aging, reverse sun damage, and more.
Your skin's got you covered
Skin takes up a lot of space! If you were to stretch out the skin of an average adult, it would cover 22 square feet. Besides keeping us nicely packaged, the skin performs a host of important functions that are crucial for overall bodily health.
The skin is essentially a protective covering that shields your body from germs. It’s filled with white blood cells that are rigged to attack any invading harmful bacteria. Signals sent from your skin sound the alarm for your body’s immune system to launch into action when germs have made entry. Skin also helps regulate your body temperature. Pretty amazing stuff, right?
Want more information on how to keep your skin in tip-top shape? Reach out to LaserAway, the nation's leading aesthetic dermatology provider.