illustration of skin layers


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The Skin Series Part I – Functions & Anatomy

When dealing with skincare ingredients, formulations, and products, it’s easy to forget about the one organ which is the epicenter of all of these efforts – The skin.

Understanding the skin, its anatomy and the processes happening inside it are important for us as skincare formulators. It gives us the understanding not only as how the skin reacts to certain products but more importantly, understand the needs of the skin and its weaknesses which is necessary data to design new products that solve skin problems.

In the next series of posts, we are going to deal with various aspects of the skin – It’s anatomy, structure and various interesting internal processes that also could be important from the skincare formulation viewpoint.

Some of the skin’s functions

In terms of size, the skin is the largest organ of our body, with a total area of about 25 square feet. The skin has many functions that without them, our life could be much more complicated…

  • Protection – The skin acts as a continuous layer and covers our whole body. It acts as a physical barrier that protects us from external shocks such as injuries and even infections. It also protects us from the sun’s light and radiation and prevents the moisture retained in our body to evaporate and dry us quickly.
  • Sensation – There are many nerve endings and receptors that reach almost to the top of our skin. This lets us feel everyday objects, feel pain from hot or cold objects and stay away from danger.
  • Regulating body temperature – Due to its structure, the skin also helps us a regulated body temperature. When we are hot, the blood vessels close to the external surface extract and widen. This allows the heat to dissipate through the skin to the environment. On the flip side, when we are cold, the opposite process happens. The blood vessels in our skin contract and makes it easier to retain the heat and prevent it from escaping.
  • Synthesis of vitamin D – When exposed to the sun, the skin helps to produce vitamin D which is crucial for the firmness and health of our bones.

The skin has three layers:

  • The epidermis – This is the outmost layer of the skin. It provides a physical barrier between our inner body organs and the outer world. It’s also waterproof. This topmost layer is the one responsible for giving each one of us its skin tone.
  • The dermis/derma – Situated below the epidermis, it contains connective tissue, hair follicle start from here, and sweat glands also reside here, sending the sweat they create up to the epidermis.
  • Subcutaneous tissue – Made of fat and connective tissue
illustration of skin layers

So, we talked about the important functions of the skin. We understood how important is the role of the skin in order to protect us and even keep us alive.

We briefly talked about the anatomy, the three main layers. There’s much more to say about the anatomy but for a starting post just knowing the primary 3 layers and their basic functionality is a good start. Stay tuned for the next post, where we will get into more detail about the different layers

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