Did you know?
- Rhinoceroses are protected by thick skin which can be between 1.5cm and 5cm deep.
- Although polar bears have both white and transparent (see-through) fur, their skin is actually black.
- Amphibians, such as frogs, have unique skin. Rather than drinking water, frogs actually soak it into their body through their skin. They also use their skin to absorb around half the air they need.
Many of us know that our skin is the largest organ in our body and the most visible but did you know it is also the heaviest. The average weight of our skin is almost one kilogram (0.907185 grams to be precise) so next time you weigh yourself don’t forget to make allowances for the weight of your skin!
Now, I am not suggesting to do this; however, if you were to scrape the skin off your body and lay it down on the ground in one piece it would cover approximately 2 square meters and would be approximately 2–3 mm thick. It’s hard to think that something so miniscule in depth can have some intricate functions such as controlling our temperature, detecting danger through touch and actually supporting our immune system!
What is skin?
These intricate functions happen within the three layers of our skin; the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous.
- The epidermis is the outer most layer of our skin and helps protect our body from losing water and other nutrients as well and keep other unwanted fluids and germs out. Over a four-week period, the outer layer —made up of keratinised cells (dried and dead cells)—is constantly being replaced.
- The dermis is what I like to call ‘the factory’ of the skin. This layer contains blood vessels, hair follicles, nerve endings, pores, collagen and elastin proteins, and sebaceous and sweat glands. The sebaceous, or oil glands prevent the skin from becoming too dry. The sweat glands, which are all over the surface of the body, regulate body heat.
- The subcutaneous is the isolator or fatty layer and attaches to underlying tissues and organs. It provides padding to smooth out the contours of the body and acts as a shock absorber.
So what happens to our skin over time?
If we have a look around us it’s not difficult to see evidence that our skin will change whether we like it or not. Eventually our skin will begin to sag, we will start to see lines and our skin just won’t snap back like it used to. It’s about the time that we reach the age of 40 that these noticeable changes really start to take effect and are irreversible. Here are some examples of what we expect once we reach 40:
- The number of small blood vessels in the dermis decreases by 40% making it harder to adapt to temperature changes, blood supply is decreased and affects healing.
- The dermis layer decreases by 80% and therefore decreases the lifespan and production of collagen.
- The skin is unable to hold the same amount of water than when we were younger, causing the skin to become dry, wrinkly and not as elastic.
- Elastin fibres decrease in number, contributing the loss of elasticity.
Body fat declines so energy stores are lower.
For many of us it happens far too quickly and we start thinking back on what we could’ve have done to keep our skin looking young…forever! Well, the truth is, we can’t look 20 forever but we can try and slow down the process.
What can we do to stay looking young?
This is likely to be a question you’ve heard many a time in the pharmacy. When I was recently reviewing articles on skin there was one clear message that stood out: protecting our skin against the sun will help preserve our skin. Particularly, the use of sunscreen SPF 15+ and avoiding long periods of time in the sun, particularly when the sun’s rays are at its strongest (10am – 3pm). These tactics should be followed all year round even on a cloudy day.
The advantage of working (and shopping) in a pharmacy is pharmacy assistants understand that beauty is not only skin deep. We believe in a holistic health solution for our customers – looking at solutions both internally and externally. I recently read an interesting article outlining the research of a scientist and dermatologists in relation to healthy skin and found this quote quite interesting: “it is safe to assume that anything being applied in a spa is unlikely to penetrate far enough to enter the circulation and hence reach the liver, because if they were applying things that entered the circulation, they would be considered to be drugs and that would have to be regulated by the TGA.”
The message I gathered from this article reflects my beliefs exactly, regarding a holistic solution in skin care. If customers are serious about improving the health of their skin, skin creams and facials can aid in nourishing, protecting and relaxing our skin, but to truly preserve healthy skin now and in the future we need to promote a healthy lifestyle supported by a healthy body. There are plenty of vitamins and minerals to assist in promoting a healthy body. Here are some examples that are commonly used to assist healthy skin:
- Vitamin A for the maintenance and repair of vital skin tissue.
- Vitamin B Complex can instantly hydrate cells and give a healthy glow to skin. Using some creams containing vitamin B has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Vitamin C helps reduce wrinkles, improve skin texture, and reduce photo damage.
- Vitamin E reduces the appearance of scars and rough, dry skin. To keep skin looking supple and soft.
- Vitamin K help with dark circles and bruises help fade discolorations on the skin. Lotions and creams are more affective in this instance.
By Linden Pirrone, Trainer and Assessor