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The Anatomy of Skin
Besides fulfilling its most obvious task of keeping our insides in, our skin -- the largest organ of the body -- is also the first line of defense against our often unforgiving environment, keeping out dangerous pathogens as well as regulating our temperature and water balance. Comprised of three layers -- the epidermis (or outermost layer), the dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue -- each strata plays a critical role in the overall health and beauty of skin, connected as they are in a complex web of interactivity.
Epidermis: Less than a millimeter thick, the epidermis is composed of three types of cells, the most populous of which are the moisture-rich keratinocytes. As these keratinocyte cells migrate up towards the skin surface from the base of the epidermis where they are produced, they lose water, begin to harden, and eventually die. The dead keratinocytes are then integrated into our sebum or surface skin oil and help form the outermost protective layer of the epidermis (the stratum corneum) until they are eventually sloughed off and replaced.
In addition to keratinocytes, the epidermis also contains melanocytes, which produce the melanin pigment responsible for skin color; and langerhans cells, which are part of the immune system and act as a defense against pathogens encountered in the epidermis.
Dermis: Just beneath the epidermis is the dermis, the thickest of the skin's three layers. The primary cells at work here are called fibroblasts. They maintain the dermis's network of and proteins, which, in turn, form the structure of the skin and give it its elasticity and resiliance.
Besides the dermis's nourishing system of tiny capillaries and langerhans-producing lymph nodes, it is also home of the sebaceous glands. These glands generate the protective sebum that travels via tiny hair follicles from the dermis to the epidermis where it lubricates and protects the skin's surface. Although an over-production of sebum can result in skin that is excessively oily, too little sebum is equally problematic, leaving skin parched and vulnerable to wrinkling.
Subcutaneous Tissue: Composed primarily of adipocyte fat cells, the innermost layer of the skin is the subcutaneous tissue and is largely responsible for providing insulation and padding, as well as housing sweat glands and a system of tiny muscles connected to our hair follicles. As we age and the subcutaneous tissue thins, our skin begins to sag and the epidermis contracts, causing wrinkles to appear.
Take good care of your skin! Check out our line of Skin Care products or take our Skin Type Quiz to learn about what type of skin you have and how to best care for it.
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