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What is Skin? Do we understand our skin? All you need to know about your skin.

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Did you know our skin is the largest organ in the human body? Our skin’s thickness varies between 0.05mm to 4mm.

Skin is made of three layers, Epidermis, Dermis and Hypodermis. There are multiple sub-layers within each layer but I am going to focus on the 3 layers for simplicity.

Structure of the skin
Structure of the skin

The skin structure

Epidermis – The outer most waterproof layer and is our protection to the world. There is a vast amount of information on the epidermis you can read up on but there are 2 important things we need to know and why.

What do you need to know about your skin?

1. In the base layer of our epidermis contains a cell called melanocytes and It produces melanin which gives us the tan appearance. Exposure to the sun causes increased production of melanin. This is to protect our skin from damaging UV rays.

2. Our skin constantly pushes keratinocytes (skin cells) to our skin surface to form the Stratum Corneum layer. This is the layer of skin you can see and touch. As the most outermost cells wear off, it will be replaced by fresh layer of cells. Our cells turnover in about 28 days and 45 days for elderly.

Why do you need to know this about your skin?

1. Increased production of melanin may result in hyper pigmentation as you get older.

2. Our skin cell turnover slows as we age so we may need a little helping hand to ensure our skin maintains the fresh appearance as we age. There are more details within blog post of skin in different ages.

Dermis – Dermis is the layer underneath Epidermis and is the thickest of the 3 layers. It is the structure that supports the Epidermis and will impact how the Epidermis looks. The Dermis contains blood vessels, lymph vessels, hair follicles, sweat glands, Sebaceous glands, nerve endings, collagen and elastin.

What you need to know about your skin?

1. Our dermis layer is held together by collagen. Collagen gives the skin it’s strength, resilience and supports the epidermis. Elastin in the dermis provides the dermis. This allows the skin to bounce back when stretched.

2. Research shows that after the age of 20, we produce 1% less collagen each year.

Why do you need to know this about your skin?

1. Dermis (may not be visible) is very important to the look and feel and epidermis. We need to look after our dermis so our epidermis can looks it’s best.

2. There are products which can thicken the dermis over time such as retinol. Retinol has been very widely researched for the past decade. Most recently, there has been a plant based option, Bakuchiol. There has been limited research and studies at this moment.

Hypodermis – Under the Dermis, you will find the Hypodermis which primary function is to store fat and attach the upper layers to tissue, bones and cartilages.

Woman curious about skin and skincare. Skin and skincare should not be a mystery; we go into the details about skin and skincare.

Now you know about the skin. Do we have the same skin/ skin types? Does the same product/ ingredient works for all of us?

Yes and no.

Yes, all of us have the same basic skin structure.

No, we may not have the skin type due to genetics.

Yes, the same active ingredients still serves the same purposes (eg;retinol to thickens the dermis layer).

No, it may not be suitable for everyone (super sensitive skin or eczema).

What are the skin types out there and what is your skin type?

There are 5 major skin types in general.

Normal skin:

- Neither dry nor oily.

- None or few visible pores

- No major skin sensitivity

Dry skin:

- Dull appearance and can look flaky

- Fine lines around lips and eye area

- Pink or red patches

Oily skin:

- Enlarged and clogged pores

- Blemished skin

- Sheen on skin

Oil and hydration are 2 different things. You may be concerned about applying moisturiser to your oily skin. Oil/ sebum does not hydrate your skin. Oily skin still needs hydration; choose a light oil-free formulation instead.

Combination skin:

- Dry on cheeks and under cheeks areas.

- Oily on T-zone areas (forehead and nose)

- Congested pores in oily areas

- Fine lines in drier areas.

Sensitive skin:

- Itchy

- Redness

- Dryness

What should you do when choosing skincare products?

When choosing skincare products, first identify the skin types you have and the concerns you are trying to address. What works for others may not work for you.

What you need to know about your skin?

Your skin changes over time. It tends to be oilier as you hit puberty and gets drier as you age.

You need to:

1. Choose skincare product/ ingredients that suits your skin types.

2. Your skin type may not change overnight but your skin condition might due to internal (lack of sleep, stress, alcohol intake etc) and external (seasonal changes, travelling on planes, going to different climate) factors.

3. Observe and listen to you skin. If you react to a skincare product/ ingredients. Stop and consult a dermatologist.

4. Regardless of your skin type and condition, you skin needs hydration. Don’t confuse hydration with applying thick, greasy cream. There is a moisturiser out there that suits your skin type.

Very importantly, how we look after our skin in our teens, affects our skin in our 20’s and how we look after the skin in our 20’s affects it in your 30’s.

As aptly put by Coco Chanel: “Nature gives you the face you have at 20; it is up to you to merit the one you have at 50.

I will be posting weekly blogs on skin at every ages and how we should care for our skin. Stay tuned.

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