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An Overview of Your Skin

The basics

Skin is the largest organ on our body, made up of several different components, including water, protein, lipids and different minerals and chemicals. It takes a lot to protect you, too: just about six pounds (that’s roughly how much your skin would weigh by itself). Throughout your life your skin will change, for better or worse. In fact, your skin will regenerate itself approximately every 27 days. Proper care and treatment is essential to maintaining the health and vitality of this crucial protection.

What your skin demands daily

It is easy to skip that glass of water during the haste of your daily routines or to skip cleaning. Over time, though, those bad habits can take a toll on your skin. Each day you should make certain to provide your skin with:

  • Plenty of water.
  • Thorough cleansing - You should perform this twice daily. At night, make sure you remove all your make-up and cleanse properly before going to bed.
  • Balanced nutrition.
  • Toning –You may want to use a formulated toner or astringent to remove fine traces of oil, dirt, and make-up that you may have missed when cleansing.
  • Moisturizing -This is a necessary step even for those who have oily skin. There are plenty of moisturizers on the market that are oil-free.

Over the course of your life, you should pay attention to all parts of your skin. Familiarize yourself with it, so you’ll notice any changes that might occur, such as different moles or patches that might require further attention.

This information serves as an overview only, and should not replace a professional’s advice.

The skin’s structure

Epidermis: The outer layer

It’s the thinnest layer, but it’s responsible for protecting you from the harsh environment, with five layers of its own: stratum germinativum, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and stratum corneum. The epidermis also hosts different types of cells: keratinocytes, melanocytes and Langerhans cells. Keratinocytes produce the protein known as keratin, the main component of the epidermis. Melanocytes produce your skin pigment, known as melanin. Langerhans cells prevent things from getting into your skin!

Dermis: The middle layer

This is the layer responsible for wrinkles. The dermis is a complex combination of blood vessels, hair follicles, and sebaceous (oil) glands. Here, you’ll find collagen and elastin, two proteins necessary for skin health because they offer support and elasticity. Fibroblasts are the cells you’ll find in this layer, because they synthesize collagen and elastin. This layer also contains pain and touch receptors.

Hypodermis: The fatty layer

Reduction of tissue in this layer is what contributes to sagging skin. This layer is also known as the subcutis. It hosts sweat glands, and fat and collagen cells, and is responsible for conserving your body’s heat and protecting your vital inner organs.

The skin’s proteins

Collagen:

It’s the most abundant protein in the skin, making up 75 percent of your skin. Collagen and elastin are responsible for warding off wrinkles and fine lines. Over time, environmental factors and aging diminish your body’s ability to produce collagen.

Elastin:

Think elastic. This protein is found with collagen in the dermis.

It’s another protein, responsible for giving structure to your skin and organs. As with collagen, elastin is affected by time and the elements. Diminished levels of this protein cause your skin to wrinkle and sag.

Keratin:

This dominant protein in your skin makes up hair, nails and the surface layer of the skin. Keratin is what forms the rigidity of your skin.

References:

© Copyright 1995-2012 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 9/18/2012...#10978


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