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About 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’s easy to skip that glass of water during the haste of your daily routines or to cleanse yourself. But over time, 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: After you cleanse with your bar soap or other cleanser, make sure you 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.

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, 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. This is also your fountain of youth, for it’s 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.

Healthy Skin is Beautiful Skin

Improve your skin care regimen by following the skin tips below:

  • Wash your face with lukewarm water using clean fingertips; avoid hot water. Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils and can cause small blood vessels to break. This, in turn, causes the skin to age more quickly.
  • When applying eye creams or gels, use a light tapping motion with your fourth finger (there is less pressure). Hint: Cover the area beneath the eye, brow bone and corners of the eye with outward motions.
  • When applying products to the face use an inward and upward motion.
  • Use an enzyme mask or scrub with micro beads that are round and gentle to exfoliate the skin weekly. This will help remove excess dead skin cells and allow the texture and clarity of the skin to be seen. Hint: Do not use buff puffs or scrubs with chunky particles to exfoliate your skin. They may cause small fissures on your skin where bacteria can enter.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure and wear a broad spectrum SPF daily.
  • Concealer is available in color-correcting formulas. For example, yellow concealer helps cancel out bluish/purplish tones, such as circles beneath your eyes. Green concealer helps cancel out redness that is found in acne, rosacea, blemishes and birthmarks.
  • Do not sleep in make up.

For a free skin care consultation, please call 216.444.6900 or 800.223.2273, ext. 46900.

Use Make-Up That's Good For Your Skin

  • If you have skin and/or eye sensitivities to cosmetics, or if your skin is prone to acne, redness or rosacea, you may benefit from specialty cosmetics.
  • Lycogel offers an assortment of full coverage concealers in several tinted shades. The concealers dry to a lightweight, silky powder finish.
  • Jane Iredale’s four-in-one product is a convenient combination of foundation, powder, concealer and sunscreen. Mineral-based, the makeup provides excellent, lightweight coverage with sun protection and minimum allergy risk.
  • Both cosmetic lines are made from pharmaceutical-grade ingredients—without fillers—making them effective and long-lasting. Also, because the products are fragrance- and preservative-free, they won’t aggravate sensitive skin.
  • Used by makeup professionals and physicians for years, both cosmetic lines are perfect for correcting redness and bruising following facial surgery or laser resurfacing. They are also effective in concealing birthmarks, port-wine stains and some scars.
  • For a free skin care/makeup consultation, call the Plastic Surgery Department appointment line at 216.444.6900 or 800.223.2273, ext. 46900. For skin care questions or product re-orders, call 216.444.2044 or 800.223.2273, ext. 42044.

What's Special About Specialty Cosmetics?

Using advanced technology, Lycogel and Jane Iredale have developed inspired lines of cosmetics.

Lycogel products are:

  • Perfect for sensitive skin because they are fragrance- and preservative-free!
  • Long-lasting and water-resistant!
  • Designed to enhance your skin, providing an exquisite matte finish that won’t clog pores!

The Jane Iredale line of cosmetics is:

  • Filler- and fragrance-free, so your makeup won’t fade, crease or smear!
  • Pharmaceutical-grade vitamins and antioxidants—especially effective for acne and rosacea-prone skins!
  • Not tested on animals!

Protect Your Skin from Winter Dryness

Winter weather means dryer air, more intense indoor heat and a desire for warmer baths or showers — all things that can lead to dry skin.

“Symptoms of dry skin include itching, redness, scaliness, chapping and cracking,” says Marnie Godfrey, manager of aesthetics in Cleveland Clinic's Department of Plastic Surgery. “And it can occur anywhere on your body, not just on your face or hands.”

To protect your skin from winter wear, here are two steps. “First, watch your environment,” says Godfrey:

  • Lower the heat in your home.
  • Use humidifiers or set pans of water around your house.
  • Take shorter baths or showers and use tepid or cool water.
  • For dry lips: Apply lip emollient after you eat and before bed, and avoid licking your lips — it only makes them dryer.
  • Avoid scratchy clothes, like wool sweaters; stick with softer fabrics, such as cotton.

Second, apply moisturizers, especially after bathing. “Moisturizers don’t add water to your skin, they prevent air from absorbing the water already in it. Most moisturizers last about 8 to 12 hours, so apply them twice a day. If you have allergies or skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, try fragrance-free products,” she says.

“These products tend to have fewer preservatives and fragrances than over-the-counter products. And their pH levels are closer to our skin’s pH, so they cause less irritation,” explains Godfrey.

La Roche-Posay products were developed for allergic and intolerant skin, severely dry skin and aging skin, and are available from Clinic skin care specialists at the Main Campus and the Beachwood, Strongsville and Lorain Family Health Centers. Free consultation appointments are available for new patients.

Cleveland Clinic recommends these La Roche-Posay products for skin care patients:

  • For full-body skin care: Lipikar cleanser, cleansing bars and moisturizers
  • For dryness on face: Hydraphase cleansers and moisturizers
  • For sensitive skin: Toleriane fragrance-free moisturizers and cleansing bars
  • For acne: Effaclar cleanser, moisturizer and skin peel

Schedule an Appointment Online

Call us for an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, contact the Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Institute at 216.444.5725 (or toll-free 1.800.223.2273, ext. 45725).

Same-day Appointments

To arrange a same-day visit, call 216.444.7000

This information is provided by 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.

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