You might be very surprised to find that "Skin" is an organ in your body. It is the body's largest and the most visible organ which is made up of very specific cells and tissues.
Skin covers, protects and holds everything inside your body. Without skin, the muscles, the bones and the other organs of your body would be just hanging out all over. Your skin as an organ helps to keep your body at normal temperature. Skin allows us to have sense of touch or feel.
Skin is the most visible organ of your body. Therefore, it is a clear indicator of your overall health and well-being. The clean, clear, glowing and radiant skin makes one feel confident and beautiful. Hence, your skin deserves special attention. Skin surface is sensitive to heat, cold, light and touch. The inner layers of your skin are filled with nerve endings and blood vessels. Healthy skin is an essential part of your health. It aids to natural beauty as well. Good skin reflects your inner health.
Let us try to find out some important skin functions in the body:-
Functions of the Skin:-
- Skin acts as a barrier. It helps to defend the body from outside environmental influences such as extremes of temperature, exposure to disease causing organisms like harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and infections, ultra-violet radiations (Sun) and so on.
- Skin acts as a thermostat. It controls and regulates your body temperature by contracting or expanding the blood vessels in the skin. The dilated blood vessels release heat from the body whereas the contracted blood vessels restrict the heat loss. In simple words, When it is too hot, the blood flow in the capillaries increases and the sweat glands produces sweat or increased perspiration that helps to cool down the body and refreshes the skin's surface. Skin can also retain heat when it is cold. The blood vessels contract to prevent the blood from cooling down.
- Skin produces Vitamin D in the body when exposed to sunlight. This is one of the important and essential nutrient required by the body to keep bones strong and healthy.
- The nerve endings or receptors in the skin allow your brain to feel number of sensations such as touch, heat, cold, pain and pleasure.
- Skin releases sweat. This sweat which is released through the skin contains chemical substances called "Pheromones" that stimulate sexual attraction.
The Three Main Layers of the Skin:-
- Hypodermis or Subcutaneous Tissue
What is Epidermis?
The top most layer of the skin is called "Epidermis". The epidermis skin layer is the visible layer of the skin that acts as a barrier between you and the outside world. It covers your entire body from head to toe. The thickness of the epidermis varies according to different types of skin. It is the thinnest on they eyelids at .05 mm and the thickest on the palms and soles at 1.5 mm.
The Epidermis is made up of Three Types of Cells:-
- Keratinocytes - Produces Keratin
- Melanocytes - Produces Melanin or Pigment.
- Langerhans - Defence of the Immune System & Prevents Unwanted Foreign Substances from Penetrating the Skin
The condition of the epidermis determines how "fresh" your skin looks and also how well your skin absorbs and holds moisture.
The Epidermis Contains 5 Layers:-
- Stratum Corneum - The top outermost layer of the skin. The stratum corneum is also known as the "Horny Layer".
- Stratum Licidum - The clear translucent layer of the skin. It's a thin layer of dead keratinocytes which is present only in thick skin.
- Stratum Granulosum - The layer of epidermis between Stratum Lucidum and Stratum Spinosum that contains Keratohyalin and Lamellar Granules
- Stratum Spinosum - The main function of this layer is to protect against foreign materials, produce and retain layers that prevent moisture from the skin. Also, known as "Spiny Layer" due to the fact that the cells are held together with spiny projections.
- Stratum Basale - The deepest innermost layer of the epidermis. It contains melanocytes that produces pigment called melanin and also pick up sensory information in the stratum basale.
What is Dermis?
Dermis is the middle layer of the skin which is located between epidermis and Hypodermis or Subcutaneous Tissue. It contains capillaries (tiny blood vessels) and lymph nodes (depots of immune cells). It also contains number of small nerves, sweat glads, sebaceous or oil glands, hair follicles and Collagen and Elastin.
The Dermis is made up of:-
- Fibroblasts - Produce Collagen Fibres
- Macrophages - Involved in Immunity
- Mast Cells - Involved in the Histamine Response
- White Blood Cells - Involved in Immunity
The Dermis Layer is made up of Two Sub-Layers, namely:-
- Papillary Layer - Located directly under the epidermis and is attached to it via papillae. This papillae are projections that are finger-like in appearance. It helps to nourish the epidermis and provide touch sensation.
- Reticular Layer - This sub-layer is thicker than papillary layer which is composed of irregular dense connective tissues. It has more fibres and fewer cells than papillary layer. It gives the skin overall strength, extensibility and elasticity.
What is Subcutaneous or Hypodermis Layer?
The subcutaneous layer or hypodermis is a fatty layer of connective tissue underneath the dermis. It is also called as "Superficial Fascia". In females, the hypodermis is generally about 8% thicker than in males. The main functions of the hypodermis layer is insulation, storing of lipids, cushioning of the body and temperature regulation.
The Basic Skin Care Guide:-
Your skin is one of the largest organ of your body. Many often people neglect the importance of taking good care of their skin. The basic skin care only requires a few minutes of your time each day.
Simple, easy and effective skin care basics is a must for everyone. All you need is a proper guidance and understanding of the basic skin care tips. The first step towards the "Basic Skin Care Guide" is to identify your "Skin Type". You can go through various skin type details, Skin Test and identify your skin as Normal, Oily, Dry, Combination, Sensitive, etc or if you are confused, you can consult your Dermatologist or Skin Care Expert.
The Beauty Therapists, the Dermatologists and the Cosmetologists - recommend taking regular care of your skin to avoid skin problems like acne, pimple, etc and delay the aging process. Facial skin is very delicate. It needs your special attention and care than the rest of the body. Good skin care habit is essential. Do not take it as a burden but take it as a choice to look younger, feel good and get that beautiful glowing skin.
The Basic Skin Care Guide:-
1. The Cleanser:- Cleansing is essential to remove make-up, dust, dirt, sweat and grease or oiliness and other substances from the surface of the skin. Cleansing is suitable for all skin types. A cleanser can be a mild facial soap, rich cleansing cream or foaming cleanser. Find the best face cleanser that has a proper pH and works best for your skin type. Start using it twice in a day i.e. morning and before retiring to bed. This will help to remove all the impurities, oil and make-up from your face.
- Splash your face with water. Make sure your hands are clean.
- Squeeze a small amount of cleanser on your palm or you can use cotton too.
- Apply the cleanser to your face using circular motion with your fingers, avoid nails and spread it evenly over the forehead, chin, nose, cheeks and neck. Avoid the eyes, the lip and the nostril areas.
- Massage your face for about a minute. This will boost the supply of blood to the surface of your skin. Allow your cleanser to penetrate the skin well.
- Rinse the facial cleanser away with clear water properly.
- Pat your skin with a soft towel to absorb the remaining water from the skin.
It is always advisable to go for organic products which are free from harmful chemical ingredients. Look for the product that contains natural substances that will cleanse your skin without making it dry. The best face cleanser should leave your skin feeling clean and fresh without any irritation.
2. The Toner:- After cleansing the skin, you should apply "Toner" inorder to cleanse the skin further and help remove any remnants of particles from the skin. It cools, nourishes, hydrates and freshens up your skin as well. Toner is suitable for all skin types. Toner tightens up the skin and close up open pores. You can apply toner with a cotton all over your face and avoid eyes and lips. Wipe the toner in upward and outward direction.
3. The Moisturizer:- Your skin needs hydration and proper nutrients to keep it healthy besides a good diet. Hence, you need a good moisturizer that provides your skin with essential oil to prevent moisture loss. Choose a moisturizer that suits your skin type with natural ingredients. Moisturizer can be water-based or oil-based. While buying a moisturizer for your skin, you need to consider the climate in your area as well. If it's low humidity, you can look for moisturizer with mineral oil or glycerin, etc and if it's a humid area, you can just use the one with lotion. Apply moisturizer twice a day i.e. morning and before going to bed to repair and nourish your skin. Moisturizer with sun-protections protects your skin from harmful radiations during the daytime. It keeps your skin smooth and supple as well as prevent dryness and cracking. Also, apply moisturizer on your neck too in an upward stroke motion.
If you are using a moisturiser with sun protection or SPF protection, avoid using it at night.
The Other Basic Guide to Skin Care:-
1. Exfoliate:- Exfoliants helps to remove dead cells from the your skin. It rejuvenates the skin, improves your skin tone, glow and clarity. Exfoliants unclogs your pores and prevents acne, pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. Exfoliating your skin can reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It can speed up the process of skin flaking and shedding in some skin types. It gives you a beautiful natural clean and healthy skin. Exfoliating the skin should not be done on daily basis. Never over-exfoliate. Once in a week or twice at the maximum is enough to have a healthy glowing skin.
2. Facial Steam:- Facial steam is the best method or treatment to deep clean the pores, get rid of acne, pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. Facial steam causes the skin to perspire. It allows the pores to open and breathe. The steam penetrates the face. It softens and hydrates the outer layer of the skin. Steaming your face can revive the tired skin, removes toxins and improves circulation. It can also aid to clogged nasal and sinus passages. While steaming your face, do not get too close to the hot boiling water.
Facial steaming is recommended to be done on weekly basis. You can also try adding some herbs or essential oils in the steamer.
- Dry or Sensitive Skin - Oil of Chamomile & Lavender Oil
- Oily Skin - Oil of Fennel, Lemon & Rosemary
- Normal Skin - Lavender Oil, Lemon Oil
- Mature & Skin Damaged by the Sun - Lemon Oil & Oil of Patchouli
- Acne Prone or Inflammed Skin - Tea Tree Oil, Lavender Oil, Chamomile Oil & Eucalyptus
2. Facial Mask:- Facial mask has been used since ancient times. It helps to improve your skin complexion, making it more clearer and youthful. It can smoothen your skin, open up pores, remove impurities and stimulate skin. It can help slow down pre-mature aging, beat wrinkles and fine lines. Facial masks are relaxing, soothing and deep cleansing.
- Drink lots of water and juices.
- Do not smoke or limit your smoke intake. Smoking increases wrinkles as well as dehydrates your skin.
- Avoid ultra-violet rays. It can damage your skin.
- Add a spoonful of olive oil in a bucket of warm water or tub for your bath. This will provide glow to your skin.
- Eat lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.