How Many Skin Layers are There?
At some point we all want to care for our skin, for a wide variety of reasons. Maybe we’re effected by the seasonal changes, or perhaps we are experiencing some life changes, hormonal changes, or health issues. Any and all of these things can directly effect the condition of our skin.
Knowing more about our skin and how it functions, is a great place to start when dealing with any of the things we’ve mentioned. We often forget that our skin is a complex organ, made up of layers, each which are designed to fulfill a certain function for our well being. Let’s learn more about the layers of our skin, what they do, and how we can best care for them.
Our Skin Has 3 Main Layers
We have 3 main layers of skin, and those are made up of a few different sub layers, which is why some people specify that we have 7 layers of skin. The 3 main layers are what we’ll go over here, and also add the information on the sub layers.
EPIDERMIS. The epidermis of the skin is the part that you see, the top layer, and is actually made up of 5 sub layers. It is not the thickest layer, and it can become thinner as we age. Our epidermis is designed to consistently shed layers, growing new layers during this process. Your epidermis includes your pores, which allows that top layer to breathe and absorb topical ingredients to help supplement the lower layers and overall health of the skin. Lifestyle choices and health conditions can affect the condition of the epidermis and can affect hair growth.
Our epidermis is susceptible to exterior factors, like allergens, sun, pollution, bacteria and irritations. Fortunately, the skin is wonderfully designed to handle most of these factors quite well, and with a little care and protection, we can maintain a healthy epidermis most of the time.
It’s our epidermis that can be one of the first things to show if our lifestyle choices or health conditions are something to reflect on. Lack of sleep, lack of hydration, smoking, drinking, medication use, lack of sufficient nutrients, or too much time in the sun can directly affect the way our epidermis looks.
Some of these factors cannot be helped or changed, especially if we are required to take certain medications that might affect the epidermis, but we can ward off some of these things with supplemental care – skin care treatments, products, plentiful hydration, sun protection, and exercise – which can help the circulation in your skin.
DERMIS. The dermis is the thickest layer, and is home to our hair follicles, oil glands, connective tissue, nerve endings, and lymph vessels. The dermis also contains elastin and collagen, and it can be affected by some skin conditions that you see on the surface, like cysts, cellulite, and wrinkles. This layer is quite fibrous, which adds to the flexibility of the skin. As we age, those fibers, elastin and collagen start to break down and diminish, so taking good care of your skin and replenishing it properly throughout the years is very important.
The dermis includes two sub layers: papillary dermis and the reticular dermis. Blood vessels in the dermis carry nutrients and discard waste.
SUBCUTIS. The subcutis layer is a layer of fat, sometimes called the subcutaneous fat layer, which offers insulation and helps the skin stay warm and offers cushion to the interior parts of our body. This is the kind of fat layer we are not trying to minimize, as we might try to do with the fat in our body that creates extra weight. This layer of fat is vital and important to proper skin function. There are blood vessels that run through the subcutis, which help distribute nutrients and oxygen.
Things That Affect They Layers of Our Skin
Below are some common situations that can affect the condition of our skin. Making good choices can not only help our skin look better, but it can also help prevent potential more serious issues internally. Often times, our skin is a barometer for what’s going on inside.
Smoking. This is relative to traditional cigarettes as well as vaping. Smoking constrictions our airways and lunges, infusing damaging chemicals into our body, and therefore restricting necessary oxygen and nutrients.
Stress. Stress can directly impact our hormonal function, which in turn impacts our skin. It can also impact the skin barrier function, reducing it’s ability to absorb nutrients and moisture properly.
Sleep. Lack of proper sleep can cause our skin look parched and tired. In time, if this is part of your consistent lifestyle, lack of sleep can cause the skin to look looser and broken down. Some of our bodily functions can only run when we sleep, and part of that is the rejuvenation and healing process that benefits our organs and skin. Getting enough sleep can greatly impact the appearance and condition of your skin.
Nutrition. Poor nutrition causes our skin to lack the right kinds of vitamins and minerals. Adding vegetables and fruit to your diet is a quick way to crowd out and eliminate some of the processed foods that lack the nutrition that your skin needs.
Medications or drugs. Some health issues require medications, and for that reason we do our best to balance those things with better skin care and certain nutrients that can counter the effects of medications. Drug use is extremely toxic and can age us significantly. Ask your doctor if the medications that you’re taking cause any side effects to the skin and if they do, go over any alternatives that might be a better choice for you if at all possible.
Sun exposure. When the sun penetrates your skin, it will weaken collagen cells and halt the production and natural processes our skin is designed for. Wearing a sunscreen every day, even if you work indoors, is very important. Just consider the minutes in the car, sun exposed, and the time it takes you to walk to and from your car and to and from your home – this all adds up to potential sun damage that can be prevented with a quality sunscreen.
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Our skin is a complex and important part of our bodies, and often an indicator of what's going on inside. When we take good care of our skin, eat nutritious food, sleep well, and exercise, we can not only have healthier skin but also enjoy healthier body function.