When it comes to understanding the way skincare products and ingredients work on our skin, it’s important to understand the basic structure of how our skin works. You’ve probably heard about the epidermis (top layer) and dermis (middle layer), but did you know your epidermis is comprised of five layers and there’s a layer of skin under the dermis known as the hypodermis? Let’s get skin savvy.
The skin is the body’s largest organ and is responsible for tasks such as fighting germs, preventing water loss (dehydration), and regulating body temperature. The first layer of the skin is known as the epidermis. This is the layer that we see when we look in the mirror, that we apply our products onto, and where we tend to visibly notice any changes to our complexion. The main role of the epidermis is to prevent invading bacteria from entering the body. The epidermis is comprised of 5 layers that all play an important role in how our complexion looks. These layers include:
Stratum Corneum: Comprised of dead and dull skin cells, this is your skin’s first line of defence against the environmental elements. This layer is consistently replacing itself, it’s the layer we exfoliate when we want a fresh, glowing complexion. It’s also responsible for preventing moisture loss.
Stratum Lucidum: This layer is present to help the body endure movement and high impact activities in your day-to-day routine. Fun fact: This layer is only present in our palms and feet.
Stratum Granulosum: Comprised of nourishing fatty cells, this layer plays a large role in preventing water loss to reduce the risk of dehydration.
Stratum Spinosum: Think of this layer as a fighter! It contains cells that help your body fight bacteria and bugs in the environment.
Stratum Basale: This layer is the hard worker, there’s always activity happening here. First we have cell growth to help turn over the dull cells up on the Stratum Corneum. This layer also contains cells known as melanocytes; they produce melanin which gives our skin its pigment.
Before we jump into the glorious, skin plumping structures that give our skin youth, I need to give a special mention to the papillary layer, this layer is essentially a bridge between the epidermis and dermis. It helps regulate heat and is full of sensory receptors that sense heat, touch, and pain.
The dermis itself could be known as the “money maker” of the skin. If you love active skincare, you’ve probably heard a few terms referring to the dermis, things like “dermal delivery” and “dermal sculpting” come to mind. The main reason for this is that the dermis is home to our marvellous skin structure which gives our complexion its shape. These include:
• Collagen: Collagen is a protein which forms the main building blocks of our skin, serving us up a plump, youthful complexion.
• Elastin: Another protein that lives in the dermis, elastin gives the skin its flex and movement, allowing the skin to stretch and return to its original shape.
• Sebaceous glands: This gland lives within the dermis but is attached to a hair follicle and releases oil across the epidermis, helping to keep the skin nourished and soft.
• Sweat glands: Sweat glands help to regulate body temperature and are released across the epidermis. They also partner with the oil on our epidermis to form an acid mantle, further protecting our skin.
3. Subcutaneous Layer (A.K.A the Hypodermis)
The hypodermis is often missed when we talk about skincare, and that’s because skincare doesn’t play here. Comprised of fat, this layer is mainly responsible for skin structure and insulating the body for temperature regulation.