What We Are Enclosed by

When we talk about “skin” with regard to the human body, we usually mean the so-called epidermis. This term, which is composed of the components “epi” (Greek for “on”) and “derma” for “skin”, refers to the epidermis, i.e. the uppermost layer of skin. The origin of the word is also reflected, for example, in the term “dermatologist”, which is known to describe skin specialists.

We are confronted with our skin (cutis) every day — visually, when we look in the mirror, but also in many other respects, which are likewise reflected in its various functions: being the outermost layer of the body, it does not only (besides the intestine and the alveoli in the lungs) serve as an important contact area of the human body with the world outside, but also as an important protective cover against the environment. It is larger than you might think, because although it is only up to 4 mm thick, it can weigh up to 20 kilos if you include the accumulated fat tissue. In the case of an average male adult, the skin surface covers astonishing 1.9 square metres. It is thus the largest sensory organ with which we feel touches or pain as well as heat or cold. An intact skin is therefore particularly important to protect us from external influences, regardless of whether it is pathogens or UV rays.

Structure and Function

Looking at the cutis from the outside to the inside, it has three layers: first the epidermis already mentioned above, then the dermis, and the subcutis. These layers are again subdivided, for example in the case of the epidermis, into the lower layers horny layer, translucent layer, granular cell layer, spinous layer, and basal layer. You can see that in the epidermis alone, various components form a complex structure that we are often not even aware of from the outside.

The dermis, for its part, consists largely of connective tissue, i.e. of collagen and elastin. It practically feeds the layer above it and is divided into the papillary layer (Stratum papillare) and the reticular layer (Stratum reticulare). It is also the home of hair roots, sweat and sebaceous glands, and cells that are reminiscent of the current German Chancellor, even though they are not named after her: the Merkel cells.

There are larger blood vessels, subcutaneous fat and loose connective tissue in the subcutis. Also located there are cells responsible for our sensory perception like the so-called Vater Pacini corpuscles. Other attached components are hair, sebaceous glands and sweat glands.

Our body’s protective shell covers three large functional areas: Sensory perception (touching etc.), protection (protection against friction, elasticity to compensate pressure on the body, UV protection, protective acid mantle and grease film protect against chemical influences; horny layer against injuries etc.), and regulation (e.g. body heat from the release of sweat, which causes cooling due to the liquid’s evaporation).

Skin Types

Skin types can be classified based on various characteristics. Two of the most well-known refer to the categorisation regarding the sun sensitivity and the texture. In the first case, the Fitzpatrick classification developed in 1975 is still in use. In this approach, skin types are assigned in relation to the amount of melanin individually produced by the body. The scale ranges from pale, light-haired and freckled Type I, which easily gets sunburn, to dark-skinned, black-haired Type VI, in which UV radiation rarely leads to sunburn. Next to sensitivity to the sun, healthy skin can also be divided into four types: normal skin (balanced complexion, not too dry, not too oily), dry and therefore often quite sensitive skin (limited sebum production, too little lipids and thus loss of fluids), oily (shiny due to excessive sebum production) and combination skin. Combination skin shows characteristics of all other types, especially on the face: in the so-called T-zone. In this case, chin, nose and forehead form a rather oily region on the face, shaped as a large letter T.

Both the skin type and the current condition can change significantly, because especially when it comes to the condition, factors such as skin care, weather, stress or nutrition have a direct but variable influence on the texture and look.

Skin Aging: Typical Changes in the Course of the Aging Process

Human skin also changes over the course of life. Someone who has suffered from a very oily skin texture and the associated blemishes and pimples as a teenager may be prone to dry skin as a senior. Even normal skin tends to become drier over time. If the skin’s density or volume change when we get older, first crinkles appear and can turn into deep wrinkles. This progressing aging process can be slowed down by smart nutrition and avoiding stress as well as by nourishing cosmetics. But which constituents of natural cosmetics have a special influence here?

Hyaluronic Acid as Constituent of Natural Cosmetics

One of the best-known substances for healthy, well-nourished skin and a real anti-aging classic, not only for dry skin, is hyaluronic acid. But what’s behind this term, which is a bit difficult to pronounce? Hyaluronic acid is a substance that naturally occurs in the body. It is capable of binding astonishing amounts of liquid. One gram hyaluronic acid can bind up to 6 litres of liquid. That’s also the reason why it is directly associated with skin aging and wrinkling: With advancing age, the body produces less and less hyaluronic acid. As a result, the skin increasingly loses moisture and volume. The connective tissue slacks, which leads to increasingly deep wrinkles.

To achieve smoothing effects, certified natural cosmetic products therefore often rely on a hyaluronic serum, which provides the skin with moisture, smoothens it and thus means, for example, a good start to the day. A hyaluronic serum is also recommended to prepare the skin for the sleeping phase.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) as Constituent of Natural Cosmetics

In addition to the classic hyaluronic acid, there is now a real hype about an actually well-tried substance: the powerful vitamin ascorbic acid, i.e. vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for healthy, radiant, and beautifully young-looking skin. Beautiful we find a firm skin surface, and this is caused by the most important structural protein of our body: collagen. Collagen gives elasticity because it uniquely combines flexibility and tensile strength. Healthy collagen formation therefore significantly contributes to beautiful skin. Good cosmetic products will thus definitely aim at improving the collagen content.

Aging processes and wrinkling are related to the depletion and abnormalities in the development of this structural protein. Without vitamin C, the collagen formation decreases rapidly and the remaining collagen loses elasticity and stability. Unfortunately, vitamin C levels decrease with age. That means, with vitamin C it is thus possible to improve the body's collagen formation and prevent increased wrinkling for longer. So, natural beauty has a lot to do with the bioavailability of micronutrients like vitamin C. It is not without a reason that it is advisable to use a vitamin C serum in the facial area. Vitamin C has strong antioxidant effects. Moreover, it strengthens the skin barrier, making the skin look smoother and firmer.

“That which reminds us of nature and thus stimulates a feeling for the infinite abundance of life is beautiful”.

Friedrich von Schlegel (1772 - 1829)

Share with friends